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!