Captiva is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Lee County, Florida, United States. It is located on Captiva Island. As of the 2010 census the population was 583, up from 379 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Located just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, the island is just north of Sanibel Island. Captiva is accessed by a small bridge that crosses Blind Pass from Sanibel Island. There is a toll to use the causeway that goes from the mainland to Sanibel Island.
Captiva’s many large estates, condominiums, and businesses have recovered from the serious damage due to 2004’s Hurricane Charley.
Captiva is located in western Lee County at 26°31′5″N 82°11′28″W (26.518028, -82.191057). The CDP comprises the entire island, bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico and to the east by Pine Island Sound. Captiva Drive is the main road on the island, running from the town center south to the Blind Pass bridge to Sanibel. It is a 13-mile (21 km) drive from Captiva to the Sanibel Causeway and a total of 31 miles (50 km) by road from Captiva to the center of Fort Myers.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Captiva CDP has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.3 km2), of which 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) are land and 0.46 square miles (1.2 km2), or 28.15%, are water.
Originally part of neighboring Sanibel Island to the southeast, it was severed in 1926 when a hurricane’s storm surge created a new channel, Blind Pass. The channel filled in over subsequent years, but was reopened by dredging in the summer of 2009. Like Sanibel, Captiva is a barrier island to Pine Island (to the east of Captiva and north of Sanibel), however it is much narrower. The only automobile access to Captiva is via the Sanibel Causeway and Sanibel-Captiva Road, which ends in the CDP of Captiva, the island’s only CDP. Captiva was homesteaded in 1888 and a tiny cemetery next to The Chapel by the Sea has the grave of the original resident, William Herbert Binder (1850–1932), an Austrian. Half the island is in private ownership, with “Millionaire’s Row”, luxury homes on the gulf and bay sides of Captiva Drive. The South Seas Island Resort entry gate is at the end of this road. Roosevelt Channel on the east side of the island, is named for Theodore Roosevelt who fished there.
North Captiva Island or Upper Captiva is another island, in turn severed from Captiva in a 1921 hurricane, creating Redfish Pass. North Captiva has power from lines that originate on the north end of Captiva, and is privately owned. The island can only be accessed via boat or small plane.
Captiva was seriously damaged in August 2004 when the eastern eyewall of Hurricane Charley struck North Captiva, immediately before hitting Charlotte Harbor to the north-northeast. Initial reports indicated that 160 buildings were destroyed and another 160 seriously damaged. Reports indicate that the storm surge cut a path 491 yards (449 m) wide across the narrowest part of North Captiva, separating the island. The separation of the two halves of the island began three years earlier during a series of tornadoes caused by Tropical Storm Gabrielle that passed through the area in September 2001. The new pass filled in within a few years and is now back to its pre-Charley state. Most of the invasive Australian pines on the island blew over in the hurricane, making room for native mangroves and sabal palms..