Question: Wondering if you can help with our decision. We are looking at vacationing in Florida once again this year. Previous visits have been to Siesta Key, and Clearwater beach. This year we are looking at Captiva or Clearwater again in an area called Sand key beach. Could you tell us which of the two has a nicer beach. White sand, clear water. Any information on these beaches would be appreciated. Thank you for your help with this decision.
Answer: The differences between Clearwater Beach and Siesta Key are fewer than those between Sand Key and Captiva. Sand Key is just over the bridge from Clearwater Beach. Although Sand Key Park has a very wide and very white sand beach and a fairly large undeveloped park, it also has quite a few super mega gargantuan hotels and condominiums right next to the park. In fact, if you’ve been to Clearwater Beach and are now considering Sand Key, it sounds like you want to go back to Clearwater Beach without staying in the thick of the action. Sand Key is literally a 5 minute drive from Clearwater Beach. The water at Sand Key is exactly the same as the water on Clearwater Beach. The sand on Clearwater Beach is slightly nicer than the sand on Sand Key, but it is pretty close.
Captiva, on the other hand, isn’t close to anything. It has no high-rises, just lots of greenery surrounding a quaint little island town so small you don’t really even need a car most of the time. The South Seas Resort occupies most of Captiva. The beach is white quartz and has more shells than Clearwater Beach, Siesta Key, and Sand Key put together. Nice shells. Captiva beach does tend to suffer more from erosion, so it most likely will be narrower than Sand Key beach. And although it is a white quartz beach, it is not as brilliant white as Sand Key or Clearwater because it has some darker minerals mixed in with the white quartz.
Me? I’ll take Captiva any day of the week, any time of year. But it might be too quiet and seem too isolated for some folks.
You might prefer Sand Key if:
- You need some nightlife close by.
- You need to have a fully stocked grocery store within a 20 minute drive.
- You want to be able to find a restaurant or bar open after 9 pm.
- You need beach supply stores, boutique shopping, t-shirt shops, and an endless supply of restaurants nearby.
- You prefer a beach with more people than shells.
- You need pure white sand.
You might prefer Captiva if:
- You want to feel like you’re getting away from it all.
- You like a dark, quiet beach at night.
- You like a tiny island town that shuts down by 9 pm.
- You want to take some excursion trips by boat to some really cool out-islands like Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key.
- You love lots of coconut palms and rambling tropical foliage.
- You like a beach with more shells than people.
Here are some photos of Sand Key Beach:
Here are some photos of Captiva Island beach: