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Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Newark, Delaware
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Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

We are going to Sanibel at the end of August and would like to spend some time on Cayo Costa... the private, secluded nature of the island really appeals to us. There are 4 in our family, 2 adults and 2 children, ages 4 and 8. So far we have identified two very different options to get there: taking Captiva Cruises or a private charter with Sanibel Island Cruise, both of which have excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.

Captiva Cruises would run us around $70 with a coupon we have, and would include a 1/2 day on Cayo Costa. Basically transportation to the island with other folks (up to 120, though it sounds like the number of people actually on board can vary quite dramatically).

Sanibel Island Cruise would cost around $430 and is a private charter to Cayo Costa, a 3 hour tour. :) They provide a bunch of water gear, including snorkles, paddle boards, kayaks, etc.

So the question is: is the private tour really worth the extra cost? If there are other tours and such visiting the island, is the 'private' part only in reference to the boat trip? I would be thrilled to hear from someone who has done both the private and group trip to Cayo Costa and can give some guidance. Money is a concern, but if it is worth it, we can cut back on other portions of our vacation to make room for the added expense... I just don't want to do that for minimal gains...

Thank you for your help!

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Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Captiva Cruises
Captiva Cruises
830 Reviews
Captiva Island, FL
Captiva Island...
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1. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

The Captiva Cruise boat to Cayo holds maybe 30 people at most, it's a pontoon boat.

www.captivacruises.com/sched_cruises.html

The Captiva Cruise allows you to bring whatever you may need on the Island along with you on the boat.

No matter who you go with, there will be others on the Island, different cruises and private boats make the trek daily. Though a private cruise can take you to a more secluded area, it's already a pretty desolate

place and easy to set up away from others.

There are a ton of private charters that you can choose from that will plan a trip for you according to your wants. I'm not sure if the one you are talking about above literally takes you to Cayo and drops you off with beach equipment and then picks you up later. If so, obviously not worth the extra expense.

If you are talking about a private charter with only your family and a Captain, for $430 I would hope to have more than a ride to Cayo. You can charter boats to Island hop, shell, fish, explore the wildlife, etc...

The other thing to think about, Captiva Cruises leaves from Captiva Island and will take approximately 30 minutes to get to Cayo, so take into consideration that the half day cruise will give you two hours on the Island.

Sanibel Cruises leaves from the Southern most part of Sanibel, I would guess that adds about 25 to 30 minutes to the trip in getting to Cayo, I'm not sure how much time you would have once you got there to use all of the water equipment. 3 hour total tour doesn't leave much time to explore.

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Captiva Island
Captiva Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Captiva Cruises
Captiva Cruises
830 Reviews
Captiva Island, FL
Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

I think you would be much better off taking the Cayo costa cruise as per the link Bean posted. We went in February which is high seasonish and there were maybe 20 folks on our tour. There is a lot of beach to share. The really good thing is that the Captiva Cruise pontoon boat actually stays for the hours you are there. And you are able to use the bathroom if you need it !!!! Might be handy with little ones :)

I would certainly do the cheaper tour to Cayo Costa so you can have some money to spend on some other adventures such as the Thriller boat ride to see the dolphins.

Enjoy!

Edited: 11 August 2014, 01:25
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Captiva Island
Captiva Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Sanibel Thriller
Sanibel Thriller
621 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Newark, Delaware
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3. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Thank you bean and Jane. I think your advice makes a decision easy; Captiva cruises it is! =)

So Jane mentioned the Sanibel Thriller. Is that worth the time/effort/cost? To provide a little more context, we are on Sanibel for 7 days, plan to do the Cayo Costa trip and a day trip to Cabbage Key. We are also planning a day in fort Meyer, maybe do mini golf. Is the thriller a must do? Is it too much, given the time span of our vacation and the other activities planned?

Thanks again!

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Captiva Island
Captiva Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Sanibel Thriller
Sanibel Thriller
621 Reviews
Sanibel Island, FL
Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Chicago
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4. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Your kids might enjoy the Thriller a lot more than the trip to Cabbage Key. Mine were 8 & 6 when they went on the Thriller and were amazed by the dolphins playing in the boat's wake. They also liked seeing the lighthouse and our condo from the water.

And I definitely wouldn't plan too much. My first trip, I underestimated how much time my kids would play in the pool and on the beach, including shelling. We've been 4 years in a row and haven't found the need to go off island yet for any entertainment.

Edited: 11 August 2014, 11:49
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Sanibel Thriller
Sanibel Thriller
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Sanibel Island, FL
Ithaca, New York
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5. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Grandchildren are now 12, 9 & 4. We've gone out with Capt Brian on several trips now and I would say it is preferable to CC for a few reasons: personalized service, you're not with a large group, you can change location or even depart (big plus with the younger child) when you wish.

We have been coming down to Sanibel for 10 years, sometimes twice a year. The kids never tire of beach & pool. In the cooler weather we ride bikes. When it's time to come in and clean up there are crafts, games, shell ID books. We did the Thriller once but we are not looking for ways to fill our time. Been to the shell museum and ding darling with the kids only a couple of times. Still trying to get them to the Sanibel museum. They are happy as clams adding to their shell collections, making sand castles and swimming.

My advice is to book one activity and see how it goes.

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Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Newark, Delaware
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6. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Thank you kchickie and upstate. I think I'm going to take the advice of pick one activity, see how it goes and take it from there. As much as I'd love the private cruise, we will put that on the backburner for now.

Thanks again to all!

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7. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

I'm going on Saturday and wondering the same thing. I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old. I was thinking to rent a boat ourselves too. I'm still not sure what to do. We are going to plan for the thriller also.

Newark, Delaware
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8. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

@ Glimcel, we are toying with the idea of renting our own boat, but I'm waiting on that decision until after we see how the kids do on the trip to cabbage key first... I'm not sure my 4 yo will appreciate sitting in a boat for an extended period of time. The other factor is neither my husband or I have boating experience, not sure if we'd be floating around aimlessly for fear of 'parking' the boat. ;)

I suggest following upstatecoco's advice, book one trip (I think my kids will like cayo more than cabbage keys, but...) and see how it goes. I think regardless what any of us decide, we'll still be in paradise and will have a fabulous trip. =)

Hope you have a wonderful trip. And if you have time, I'd love to hear what you decided and how the kids did.

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9. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Yes, I'm afraid too of parking! I'm very excited to go- we will be there Saturday morning!

Newark, Delaware
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10. Re: Cayo Costa - private cruise or group...

Glimcel, not sure if you've been to Sanibel before, but be sure to go to the Lazy Flamingo. They serve kids meals in frisbees which the kids get to keep. We went when my daughter was just 1 1/2 and she still remembers that, seven years later. We thought it was so very cool and really embodies the fun carefree spirit of the island.

Hope you have a fantastic time!!! Our trip is quickly approaching, can't wait! =)

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Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island
Southwest Gulf Coast, FL
Lazy Flamingo
Lazy Flamingo
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Sanibel Island, FL
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