Marco Island/Naples Shopping: Fifth Avenue South – Naples

Marco Island/Naples Shopping: Fifth Avenue South – Naples

Naples and Fifth Avenue South – Naples

5th Avenue SouthWhile much of Naples has a sprawling, suburban feel, its historic downtown is a whole different animal.  Fifth Avenue South is a beautiful, European-flavored and highly walkable district.  It is jam-packed with high-end luxury shops (Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in America) and a thriving bar and restaurant scene. This area is where most of the action takes place.  Third Street South is another lively sector buzzing with nightlife on the weekends.

Naples Pier at Sunset

After drinks and dinner in downtown, stroll a couple blocks over to the Naples Pier and listen to the waves crash along the shore.  This is also the perfect place to capture that perfect sunset picture even if you are an amateur photographer.  (I captured this pic with my cell phone).  The pier area can be a little crowded for the sunset hour,  so get there early, especially if you need a parking spot.

There’s Always Kilwin’s Ice Cream!

Kilwin's Ice Cream NaplesI have to admit that my favorite place on Fifth Avenue is the Kilwin’s ice cream shop.  After walking around shopping and sightseeing it is a real treat to visit Kilwin’s.  My other favorite shops in this area are Fresh Produce and all the specialty shops that have so many unique items.

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com

2019 Everglades Seafood Festival

2019 Everglades Seafood Festival

Everglades Seafood Festival

Everglades Seafood Festival
Fun for all at the Everglades Seafood Festival

The 2019 Everglades Seafood Festival begins Friday, February 8th and continues through the 9th and 10th.  Enjoy the 49th annual Seafood Festival held in Everglades City, featuring three days of live country music, carnival rides, arts, crafts and incredible food. Feast on fresh gulf shrimp, fish and stone crab claws, fried gator and lots more seafood. More than 100 vendors offer a variety of great seafood, refreshments, and handmade arts and crafts. The kids will love the rides! And the best part….IT IS FREE to attend (although there are fees for the food, drink, and rides)!

ADDRESS and DIRECTIONS

The Festival takes place in front of City Hall on the Circle, 102 Copeland Avenue, Everglades City, FL, 34139.The GPS coordinates are 25.85°N 81.38°W.

DIRECTIONS
From I-75 (Alligator Alley), take Exit 80 south onto SR-29. Drive about 18 miles to the intersection of US-41 (Tamiami Trail). Continue south on Route-29 about 4 miles to the center of Everglades City.

AIRPORT: You can fly in to Everglades Airpark.
link for official information to http://www.airnav.com/airport/X01
link to Everglades Outpost blog http://www.flyeverglades.blogspot.com/

ENJOY TO SEAFOOD AND LEARN ABOUT EVERGLADES CITY

This area was settled in the 1870s as a farming and fishing community. The Storter family bought a homestead on the river in 1889 and lodged visiting sports fishermen at what is now the Rod & Gun Club. In 1923 Barron Collier made the village of Everglades the headquarters for the building of the Tamiami Trail (US-41) from Tampa to Miami and the seat of his new Collier County.

The historic City Hall building (behind the stage) was once the County Courthouse. The County moved to East Naples in 1962 after the population had shifted. You will notice many Olde Florida houses that have been lovingly restored in our neighborhood.

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Sea Mar Condo is located an easy drive to Everglades City

Visit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island and the surrounding areas.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com

Marco Island Farmer’s Market: A Fresh Slice of Paradise

Marco Island Farmer’s Market: A Fresh Slice of Paradise

A Fresh Slice of Paradise

The Marco Island Farmer’s Market is a great way to spend a few hours on a Wednesday.  All of the fruits and vegetables look really fresh and snacks like kettle corn and chocolates are delicious.  It’s also a pretty place with all the fresh cut flowers and beautiful arrangements of fruits and vegetables.  The farmer’s market is also the perfect place to pick up a take home souvenir or a gift.

Marco Island Farmers Market
Marco Island Farmer’s Market

Larry and I made our first trip to the Farmer’s market on the island when we were there this past December over Christmas. We enjoyed talking to many of the vendors and learning about their products or crafts.   I couldn’t believe the selection of goods and the beautiful layouts of each vendor.  I purchased a beautiful aerial photograph of Marco Island for Sea Mar Condo.  I know our guests will love it!

Market Hours

The Farmer’s Market is open every Wednesday through April 24, 2019 from 7:30am – 1:00pm at Veterans’ Community Park.  It is located at 901 Park Avenue, Marco Island.  The market is operated by the City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation.

Visit vendors who will be selling items such as: fresh fruits, garden vegetables, herbs, fresh flowers, seafood, baked goods, honey, sauces, kettle popcorn, chocolates, fresh flowers, soaps, exotic jewelry and works from local artists.

One great thing about the Marco Island Farmer’s Market is admission is free.

Sea Mar Condo LogoVisit our website at www.seamarcondo to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides lots of information about things to see and do in Marco Island.
Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!
www.seamarcondo.com

The Dolphin Explorer is A Great Way to See Marco’s Most Famous Residents!

The Dolphin Explorer is A Great Way to See Marco’s Most Famous Residents!

The Dolphin Explorer

The Dolphin Explorer is a great way to see Marco Island’s most famous residents! The National Geographic book “100 Places that Can Change Your Child’s Life”, lists the Dolphin Explorer as the only activity in Florida selected by the award-winning writer Keith Bellows, who traveled around the world looking for experiences which would be life-altering for children. However, The Dolphin Explorer is not only fun for children – it is perfect for adults as well!!!!

This is what you’ll see when you take a tour with The Dolphin Explorer!

Dolphin ExplorerYou not only get to take a great boat ride wander on a totally pristine deserted beach and collect beautiful seashells, you get the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most amazing creatures on the planet…the bottlenose dolphin! You also get to be part of a unique scientific project – in fact you become a citizen scientist.

Underwritten and managed by Sea Excursions, the Dolphin Explorer is engaged in the only on-going daily dolphin study in the area. With the help of their passengers, they chronicle every dolphin sighting and by comparing them to their chart of dolphin photos the crew are able to recognize each dolphin by the shape of the dorsal fin. This allows the naturalists to build a bank of knowledge about them….who they associate with, where they spend their time, when babies are born and how long they stay with their mothers.

And, if you are under the age of 12, you can also participate in “The Dolphin Challenge” where you can receive a Dolphin Patch and become a member of the exclusive Dolphin Explorer Club.

What’s Uniques About the Dolphin Explorer?

The Dolphin Explorer is a 30 foot catamaran with two 225 HP outboards capable of carrying up to 28 passengers. Because of its design, it is perfect for both navigating the water of the Gulf and the backwater estuaries of the area. An excellent platform for survey work, it’s unique in “getting up close and personal” to observe marine life and photography.

Dolphin2
Get great photos aboard The Dolphin Explorer

The Dolphin Explorer’s design and power attracts dolphin to its wake for fabulous photographs. The vessel provides a choice of sun or shade for those with children, complimentary beverages and shelling bags. Be sure to bring sunglasses, your camera, sunscreen and any snacks you and the family might enjoy. Dolphin Explorer is professionally crewed by a USCG Master Captain and Mate who is a Master Naturalist and Wildlife Photographer.

My Tour Was Fantastic!

I took a recent tour on The Dolphin Explorer and it was one of the most fun adventures I’ve done on Marco Island. We saw 17 different dolphins, moms with babies and several jumping behind the boat. We also saw lots of great shells and baby least terns on the beautiful island we stopped off on for a while and even saw a manatee at the most southern end of Tigertail Beach.

Scheduling a Tour with The Dolphin Explorer

Two survey trips daily: one in the morning departing at 9:00am
the second departs in the afternoon at 1:00pm.

To make your reservation by phone
Call: (877) 523-7266
or visit their website at http://dolphin-study.com/the-dolphin-explore

The Dolphin Explorer
(877) 523-7266
Rose Marina
951 Bald Eagle Drive
Marco Island, FL 34145
9-12 noon and 1-4 pm daily

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondon.com. Our “Top 10 List” provides information on many things to see and do in Marco Island. We also recommend several tour companies and restaurants to make your vacation on Marco Island the best vacation ever.

Mini Reefs on Marco Island Helping to Clean Ocean Water

Mini Reefs on Marco Island Helping to Clean Ocean Water

Mini Reefs on Marco Island Helping to Clean Ocean Water

The Marco Island Yacht Club was the first yacht club in Southwest Florida to install a “Mini Reef” artificial marine habitat system under its dock. Installing a Mini Reef supports an environmental initiative to restore cleanliness and aquatic diversity of the region’s canals and waterways.

Residents of Marco Island Are Important to Mini Reef Installation

Marco Island residents soon became involved with the initiative by installing mini reefs below homeowner’s docks. Marco Island is proud to participate in this important environmental program to create a cleaner and sustainable marine environment. This is especially important in a year marked by Red Tide in much of southwest Florida waters.

Mini Reef
A new Mini Reef before Installation

Each mini reef installed produces thriving and diverse ecosystems full of fish and other marine life. They are capable of cleaning thousands of gallons of seawater a day. In addition to cleaning the polluted water, large numbers of Mini Reefs can produce millions of fish and crabs each year. An article in the MICAWave by David Wolff, President and Executive Director of Ocean Habitats, Inc. states that Marco Island already has enough Mini Reefs installed to clean 15.6 million gallons of water per day. Mr. Wolff also states that if each dock on the island had 4 Mini Reefs installed, they would clean 1 billion gallons every day.  This would produce approximately 8.4 million fish and 5.6 million crabs every year!

Each Mini Reef is Unique

When a Mini Reef is installed, it develops its own marine ecosystem of life. First, small shrimp and baby fish will use the structure as a safe place to avoid predators, but soon other residents move in. Over 150 different filter feeders like sea squirts and oysters will grow on the mini reef and spend their days eating the green plankton out of the water passing through. On average, a fully developed mini reef can clean all the plankton out of 35,000 gallons of seawater per day.

Installed Mini Reef
Installed Mini Reef

The mini reef mimics the environment that one finds in the eco root system of mangrove trees. This natural environment was removed from Marco Island’s waters when the canal system was developed on the island. Installing mini reefs under docks along the canals is an opportunity to restore the water cleaning properties once provided by the mangrove root system. Just one habitat covered with invertebrates such as oysters, sea squirts, mussels and more, can turn that water from green and polluted into cleaner seawater. This in turn will help to restore the canals to function as sustainable marine habitats teaming with a diverse array of fish, shellfish and other aquatic life.

Ocean Habitat is encouraging dock owners on Marco Island to install as many of the Mini Reefs as possible. Discounts are available for orders of multiple units. There are docks on the island with as many as 27 Mini Reefs.

Reference Article: What Can Mini Reefs Do to Help Water Pollution Problems in South Florida? by David Wolff.

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondon.com. Our “Top 10 List” provides information on many things to see and do in Marco Island. We also recommend several tour companies and restaurants to make your vacation on Marco Island the best vacation ever.

A Day Trip to Naples Zoo

A Day Trip to Naples Zoo

A Day Trip to Naples Zoo

A Day Trip to Naples Zoo is a wonderful adventure! Just a short 30 minute drive from Marco Island and Sea Mar Condo, the zoo is fun for kids and adults alike. Naples Zoo is a nationally accredited zoo and charitable institution that features a full day of fun activities. Plan your trip to the zoo, today!

Naples Zoo
1590 Goodlette Road
Naples, Fl 34102
Zooline: (239) 262-5409

Hours: Open 7 days a week
Monday through Sunday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
(Last Ticket Sold at 4:00pm)

Zoo Exhibits

The Naples Zoo is a 1 mile long path that winds through botanical gardens past the main exhibits. The main exhibits are:

Alligator Bay – provides a home to the zoo’s American alligators. This lake is also home to many native species including herons.

African Oasis – This area houses many African animals including crested porcupines, Naples ZooDorcas gazelles, greater kudus, miniature zebu, impala, African gray parrots, and leopard tortoises.  You can even hand feed a giraffe in The Giraffe Preview Exhibit.

Leopard Rock – home to both spotted and black leopards.

Lake Victoria – contains several islands that are home to the zoo’s primates. Visitors can view the primates up close by taking a short Primate Expedition Cruise around the lake on one of the zoo’s catamarans. The majority of the species on these islands are endangered in the wild.

Naples Zoo LionLion’s Lair – is a mesh fenced area that is home to the zoo’s lions.

Fosas of Madagascar – is home to fossas. Naples Zoo is the only zoo in the Southeast that houses fossas. The fossa is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal endemic to Madagascar.

Black Bear Hammock – is home to black bears, and consists of two separate habitats: one a natural environment and one a back yard. Viewing for both areas is from behind glass. It is the largest black bear exhibit east of the Mississippi River.

Tiger Forest – a bamboo forest habitat for the zoo’s Malayan tigers. The Naples Zoo is a participating member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this species.

Backyard Habitat – a section of the gardens set aside and certified by the National Wildlife Federation in their Backyard Wildlife Habitat (BWH) program. It includes a pool where visitors can feed the fish.

Naples Zoo Florida PantherPanther exhibit – home to Uno a Florida Panther. The big cat was found after having been shot between the eyes at close range and left for dead. After being nursed back to health he was brought to the zoo and put on exhibit in a environment similar to what would be his wild habitat of mostly wetlands.

There are other exhibits throughout the zoo for hyenas, Parma wallaby, blackbuck, muntjac, yellow-backed duikers, honey badgers, cheetahs, coyotes and macaws.

      Admission

Naples Zoo BuildingAdmission Prices: Your admission supports wildlife at the Naples Zoo and in the wild.
As a nonprofit institution, no tax is charged on admission.

Adults ages (13*- 64) $22.95
Seniors (ages 65 and up) $21.95
Children (ages 3 – 12) $14.95
Children ages 2 and under Free
Parking is Free at the Naples Zoo

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondon.com. Our “Top 10 List” provides information on many things to see and do in Marco Island. We recommend several tour companies to make your vacation on Marco Island the best vacation ever!

Parasailing Over Marco Island’s Gulf Waters

Parasailing Over Marco Island’s Gulf Waters

Parasailing Over Marco Island’s Gulf Waters

Nothing beats soaring over the open ocean with the sense that you are flying! Parasailing over Marco Island’s Gulf waters and beach is awesome. Parasailing offers amazing views of the island as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoy seeing wildlife such as manatees, dolphins, pelicans, and stingrays from high in the sky. Adventurous? Consider a Parasail Ride.

Although I highly recommend this adventure for our guests at Sea Mar Condo, I must admit I have not worked up the courage to parasail myself.  However, several of our guests and friends have parasailed and loved it!  I love the idea that you can soar like a bird over the ocean and see all the beauty of the island…and not even get wet!

Parasailing with Marco Island Water Sports
Parasailing with Marco Island Water Sports

Parasailing begins on a powerboat. You enter the boat from the shoreline, alone or with a friend. After climbing onboard you harness up and take a seat at the back of the boat. The sail is let out, as the boat takes off and before you know it you are floating 300 feet above the water. All you have to do is sit comfortably in your harness, dangle your feet and relax while enjoying the breathtaking view.  You fly like a bird for approximately 10 minutes and then you are reeled back into the boat standing up.

Remember to Bring Your Camera!

Remember to bring along a camera. From several hundred feet up in the air you can hear only the wind gently blowing in your ears. The sights are breath taking, the skyline of Marco Island on one side, the Gulf of Mexico never ending on the other.

Note:  It is best to parasail on a calm day with little wind, and no chance of storms in the area.

Marco Island Water Sports
560 S Collier Blvd
Marco Island, FL 34145
(239)-642-3337
www.marcoislandwatersports.com

Sky’s The Limit Parasailing (featured picture)
500 S Collier Blvd
Marco Island, FL 34145
(239) 825-4866
www.floridaparasail.com

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondon.com. Our “Top 10 List” provides information on many things to see and do in Marco Island. We recommend several tour companies to make your vacation on Marco Island the best vacation ever!

 

A Recommended Day Trip to Everglades National Park

A Recommended Day Trip to Everglades National Park

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK

The Park

The Everglades is a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of Florida.  It gained national park status on December 6, 1947, when President Harry S. Truman dedicated the area as Everglades National Park to ensure the protection of its wildlife and plant habitats.  Although the park is primarily a fresh-water ecosystem, it also encompasses approximately 485,000 acres of the Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico salt water areas.  This ecosystem reaches from the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee.  From there the waters from the lake slowly move south toward the Florida Bay.  The Florida Bay is a shallow bay with an average depth of 4-5 feet, with the deepest point being 9 feet.  The bay is separated from the ocean by dense mangrove islands, sandbars, and the Florida Keys; thus providing limited water circulation.

A River of Grass

Everglades National Park has often been called the “River of Grass” (or a swamp by others).  It is really a long, shallow river nearly 50 miles wide and more than 100 miles long. The dominant life form in the “river” is periphyton, a mossy golden-brown substance found floating in the waterPeriphyton is a complex mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, heterotrophic microbes, and detritus that attaches to submerged surfaces in an ecosystem. It serves as an important food source for invertebrates, tadpoles, and some fish.

Sawgrass marsh makes up about 70 percent of the Everglades. In the northern Everglades it is tall and dense – in some areas the water is barely visible. In the south it tends to be short and less dense.  Sawgrass has serrated, razor sharp blades that can cut through clothing.

Everglades National Park is much smaller today than in years past.  Around 50% of the wetlands has been destroyed by construction and drainage projects.  The restoration of the Everglades has been an issue for many political debates in Florida.  Both the state and federal governments are committed to restoring and protecting the Everglades.

The Past

Calusa (kah LOOS ah) Indians lived on and controlled most of the southwest coast of Florida.  The Everglades were central to life in the Calusa Indian villages.  Many were located on the mouths of rivers above the Everglades. The natives traveled by canoes through the Everglades to hunt alligators, turtles, shellfish and small mammals that were essential to their food supply.  The teeth and bones of wildlife and reeds from the plants in the Everglades were used for making tools. The Native Americans called the area “Pahayokee (pay-HIGH-oh-geh), meaning “grassy waters”.  The Calusa declined with European expansion to the area.  Some were killed, but most died of diseases brought in by the European settlers.

Everglades National Park Weather

There are two seasons in the Everglades:  wet and dry.  The area alternates with seasons of flood and drought.

The wet (summer) season accounts for around 80% of the average annual rainfall in the area (50+ inches) and lasts from May through November.  The humidity and temperatures (90+F) during this time are high.  Most afternoons have thunderstorms (and occasional hurricanes) that bring rain to renew the fresh-water supply.  Hurricanes can be good for the ecosystem because they make new areas for plant growth, seeds are scattered, and waters are moved in the normally shallow, slow moving river. Recent hurricanes have impacted the Everglades (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, Irma).

Rainfall is the primary method water enters the Everglades and evapotranspiration (the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants) accounts for 70-90% of the rainfall leaving the area.

The dry (winter) season begins in December and goes through the month of April.  It brings cooler temperatures (55F-77F) and little rain.  The dry season is especially important for the reproduction of the birds and wildlife in the area.

Fire

As mentioned above, the Everglades has a dry season where drought like conditions are perfect for fires.  The Florida Everglades have recently experienced fires around the Big Cypress National Preserve (March 2017 and 2018).  Although fire may seem to be a destructive element to nature, most often it is not.  Fire is essential for maintenance and new growth of the land.

Environmental factors are always changing the ecological system.  The climate and frequency of rain, storms, and fire all change the Everglades on a continual basis.

Everglades Water Supply    

Approximately one third of people living in Florida (around 8 million) relay on water from the Everglades for their fresh water supply.  This makes protecting the Everglades extremely important.

Plant Life in Everglades National Park

As mentioned above, wet sawgrass prairies and periphyton are plentiful in the Everglades.  The river holds mangrove and cypress swamps, pinelands and hardwood hammocks. Hammocks are dry land that rise out of the grassy river. Tropical and subtropical trees such as the southern live oak grow on them.

The oldest and tallest trees in the Everglades are cypresses, the roots specially adapted to grow underwater.  Big Cypress Swamp is well known for its 500 year old cypresses.

Link to Big Cypress Swamp Website:        https://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm

Wildlife in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is home to at least 350 species of birds, 50 reptile species, 300 species of saltwater and freshwater fish, and 40 species of mammals.  The ecosystem provides protection for 14 endangered and nine threatened species, including the Florida panther, the Atlantic Ridley turtle, the leatherback turtle, the West Indian manatee, the snail kite, the Cape Sable seaside sparrow, and the American crocodile.  There are at least 36 species that live in Everglades National Park that are protected, threatened, or endangered.

The Everglades are a refuge for large wading birds, such as the wood stork, great blue heron, egrets, and the roseate spoonbill and it is the most important tropical wading bird breeding ground in North America.

This area is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist together in the wild.  Crocodiles are mostly found in small numbers in the coastal areas of the Everglades.  Alligators stay more inland, near the freshwater.

Even mosquitoes play an important role to the Everglades.  The larvae of grown mosquitoes are food for fish, which in turn become an important food source to the diets of the wading birds.

Pythons have become an invasive species to the area.  In the last few years, professional trained python bounty hunters are now being paid to help remove these large snakes from the area as they pose a threat to the ecosystem food source.

Wading Birds in Everglades National Park

 

Visitors to Everglades National Park

The Florida Everglades is visited by more than one million people from all over the world every year.  It is the third biggest national park in America. Only Yellowstone and Death Valley are greater in land mass.  Everglades National Park provides a fantastic learning experience to those of all ages and is also a great family adventure.  Photographers find the landscape and the wildlife the perfect setting for great photos.

The busy visitor season is from December through March.  This is the driest time of the year, the temperatures are cooler, and there are fewer mosquitoes.

If you are considering a trip to the Everglades, be sure to bring along water and an insect repellant.  Protective clothing may also be necessary depending on what you are doing or where you are going.

Everglades National Park Visitor Centers

The park has 4 visitor centers:

Shark Valley Visitor Center

Address: Everglades National Park, 36000 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33194

Hours of Operation     
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Mid-December – Mid-April
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Mid-April – Mid-December
Hours are subject to change. Phone 305-221-8776.

Visitors wanting to explore alone can walk the short trails and portions of the tram road, or bike. An observation tower located halfway around the tram road provides a spectacular view into the sawgrass marsh.

Guided tram tours, bicycle rentals, snacks and soft drinks are available from Shark Valley Tram Tours, Inc.

http://www.sharkvalleytramtours.com/

Shark Valley Trails:

Bobcat Boardwalk: sawgrass slough and tropical hardwood forests

Otter Cave Hammock Trail: tropical hardwood forest with small footbridges over a small       stream.

Tram Road: flat, paved road used for tram rides, bicycling, and walking.  You may see alligators, herons, egrets, turtles, and snail kites.  An observation tower provides panoramic views of the tropical hardwood hammock.

Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center (Park Main Entrance)

Address: Everglades National Park, 40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL 33034

Hours of Operation
Mid-December through Mid-April 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mid-April through Mid-December 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Hours subject to change.  Phone (305) 242-7700

The Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is open 365 days a year. It offers educational displays, orientation films, and informational brochures. Special collections by local artists are often displayed. Books, film, postcards, and insect repellent may be purchased in the adjoining bookstore. A series of popular walking trails begin only a short drive from the visitor center.

The main park road runs 38 miles from the Ernest Coe Main Entrance through the park to the Flamingo Visitor Centre.  A series of walking trails along this road begin a short drive from the visitor center.

Trails from Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center:

Anhinga Trail: Four miles from the main entrance, this is a 0.5 mile round trip trail that is self-guided.  The trail winds through a sawgrass marsh, where you may see alligators, turtles, herons, egrets, and other birds, especially during the winter. Because of the wildlife, this is one the most popular trails in the park.

Gumbo Limbo Trail: This self-guided, 0.5 mile round trip tail is 4 miles from the main entrance. The paved trail meanders through a shaded hammock of gumbo limbo trees, royal palms, ferns, and air plants.

Pahayokee Overlook: Located 13 miles from the main entrance the trail is 0.25 miles.
An observation deck on this loop provides views of the Everglades.

Mahogany Hammock Trail: Located 20 miles from the main entrance this trail is 0.5 miles round trip.  It is a self-guided boardwalk that meanders through a dense hardwood hammock with gumbo-limbo trees, air plants, and the largest living mahogany tree in the United States.

Alligator in Everglades National Park

Flamingo Visitor Center

AddressEverglades National Park, 1 Flamingo Lodge Hwy, Homestead, FL 33034

Hours of Operation
8am – 4:30pm mid-November through mid-April
No regular hours off season – intermittent staffing (Mid-April through mid-November).

Hours are subject to changePhone (239) 695-2945

The Flamingo Visitor Center lies roughly 38 miles south of the park main entrance at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. Visitors should expect to drive about an hour before arriving at Flamingo.

The Flamingo Visitor Center offers educational displays, informational brochures, and backcountry permits. Campground facilities, a public boat ramp, a marina store, and hiking and canoeing trails are located near the visitor center.

Flamingo Marina Rentals and Boat Tours (239) 695-3101
Houseboat, canoe, kayak, bicycle rentals and boat tours are available through the marina store. The marina is open year round.

Flamingo Trails:

West Lake Trail: Located 7 miles north of the Flamingo Visitor Center on the park road, this is a 0.5 mile round trip trail. It is a self-guided boardwalk trail that wanders through a forest of white mangrove, black mangrove, red mangrove, and buttonwood trees to West Lake.

Eco Pond Trail – Near the Flamingo Visitor Center this 0.5 mile round trail allows visitors to walk around a freshwater pond while watching wading birds, song birds, ducks, alligators and softshell turtles.

Gulf Coast Visitors Center Everglades National Park

Gulf Coast Visitor Center

Address: 815 Oyster Bar Ln, Everglades City, FL 34139

Hours of Operation
9:00 am to 4:30 pm Mid-April- Mid-November
8:00 am to 4:30 pm Mid-November – Mid-April
Hours subject to change. Contact by Phone: 239-695-3311

The Gulf Coast Visitor Center serves as the gateway for exploring the Ten Thousand Islands, a maze of mangrove islands and waterways extending to Flamingo and Florida Bay accessible only by boat.

The visitor center offers educational displays, orientation films, informational brochures, and backcountry permits.

Boat tours and canoe rentals are available.

Restaurants and stores are located nearby.

Activities:

Ten Thousand Islands Boat Tour: (1 ½ hours, fee charged). Discover the Ten Thousand Islands of the Gulf Coast. Concession operated boat tours are narrated by naturalists year round.

Everglades Highlights: (30 Minutes- held on the grounds in front of the Gulf Coast Visitor Center). Join park staff for a short talk about important features of the Everglades; ecological, historical and environmental issues are discussed.

Paddle the Wilderness: With a ranger as your guide, paddle through the Ten Thousand Islands to look at wildlife and mangroves while you learn about the park’s natural and cultural history.

*Reservations are required 7 days in advance. For reservations and further trip details, call the Gulf Coast Visitor Center at 239-695-3311.

 Everglades Airboat Tour

Airboat Tours

Three authorized airboat businesses offer professional airboat tours inside Everglades National Park.  All three (Coopertown, Everglades Safari Park, and Gator Park) are located along US Hwy 41/Tamiami Trail between Miami and Shark Valley.

Coopertown
http://coopertownairboats.com/

Everglades Safari Park
http://www.evergladessafaripark.com/

Gator Park 
https://www.gatorpark.com/

Everglades National Park Prohibited Activities

Personal Jet Skis and Airboats

Swimming is not recommended due to low visibility and the presence of alligators and crocodiles in fresh water areas and sharks, barracuda and sharp coral in the salt water areas.

Visiting Marco Island and the Everglades

Visiting the Everglades from Marco Island requires a car.  There is no public transportation available to Everglades National Park from Marco Island.

Everglades City is a 45 minute drive from Marco Island and is the closest entrance to the Everglades from the island.  Loop Road, which is a 16 mile drive (gravel road) offers visitors a chance to see the beauty of the Everglades and wildlife of the area.  There are several airboat and swamp buggy rides and boat tours from Everglades City.

Everglades City Airboat Tours

http://www.evergladescity-airboattours.com/

Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours

http://www.captainjacksairboattours.com/

Jungle Erv Airboat Rides

http://www.jungleervairboatworld.com/

Captain Doug’s Airboat Tours

http://captaindougs.com/

Wootens Everglades Airboat and Swamp Buggy Tours

http://www.wootenseverglades.com/

The Shark Valley Visitor’s Center is a 40 miles past Everglades City where a tram ride is available.

Another fun adventure is a jet ski adventure from Marco Island around the Ten Thousand Islands of mangroves off Marco Island.

Avi’s Watersports

http://aviwatersports.com/

Captain Ron’s Awesome Everglades Adventures

https://www.evergladesjetskitours.com/

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We highly recommend a day trip to Everglades National Park to our guests at Sea Mar Condo (www.seamarcondo.com).  On one of our recent trips there we saw almost 30 alligators, many wading birds (including a roseate spoonbill), and a python.

Looking for Manatee on Marco Island

Looking for Manatee on Marco Island

Looking for Manatee on Marco Island

As frequent visitors and part-time residents, we often find ourselves looking for manatee on Marco Island. Although there are several of these gentle giants on the island, if is often hard to spot them.

Eco boat tours touring through the 10,000 island Gulf waters offer guests a good opportunity to see a manatee up close and personal. Manatee viewing is a pastime enjoyed by many visitors and residents in any season on Marco Island.

Manatee

Manatee Behavior

The Florida Manatee (commonly known as a sea cow) is a gentle, slow moving giant of the sea.  They can weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds, but are not “fat”.  Like other mammals, their organs and bone structure take up most of their body weight.  In fact, they have very little body fat and, depending on water temperature, can easily be the victims of hypothermia.  They rarely venture into waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The manatee is a large aquatic relative of the elephant.  They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin. Their front flippers help them steer, or sometimes crawl, through shallow water.  Manatees have powerful, flat tails that help propel them through the water.  Although they rest and feed often,  manatees also body surf or barrel roll when playing.  Despite their small eyes and lack of outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear well.  They communicate by squealing under water to demonstrate fear, stress or excitement.

The Florida manatee play an important role in influencing plant growth in the shallow rivers, bays, estuaries, canals and the coastal waters they live in.  Their diets consist mostly of sea grasses and freshwater vegetation.

Manatee calves are born weighing between 60 and 70 pounds and measure about 3-4 feet long.  They nurse underwater.

They are mammals and must surface to breath air on an average of every three to five minutes. Because of having to surface for air frequently, manatee stay close to the surface of the water. Unfortunately, this makes them easy targets for boat propellers. From April 1 through November 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to protect these beautiful sea creatures.

How to Spot Manatee on Marco

The best way to see manatee in the water is by wearing polarized sunglasses to help see through the glare on the water. Manatee also make large circles on the water called “manatee footprints”. Also, look for a manatee’s snout sticking up out of the water or a large dark spot in the water.

Manatee prefer waters that are aoub 3-7 feet deep like the Marco Island canals and the surrounding 10,0000 island area. Often times, it is best to drive by some of the island’s canals and make a stop to look for the manatee.

Of course, if you fail to see a manatee on either your eco boat tour or on your canal tour of the island, you can always spot the many manatee shaped mailboxes on the island.

Manatee Mailbox on Marco

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Visit our website at www.seamarcondon.com.  Our “Top 10 List” provides information on bird watching, sea life, and fishing on Marco Island. We recommend several tour companies to make looking for manatee on Marco Island more enjoyable.

A Fantastic Sightseeing Cruise in Marco Island

A Fantastic Sightseeing Cruise in Marco Island

A Fantastic Sightseeing Cruise in Marco Island

If you are looking for a fantastic sightseeing cruise in Marco Island, we recommend the Marco Island Princess!  There’s nothing like stepping aboard this beautiful boat!  Getting to see Marco Island from the water is a must for visitors to the island.

This is one of my favorite things to do on Marco Island. The food and the sightseeing are spectacular! The sunsets are beautiful.

The Marco Island Princess sails daily from her dock at Rose Marina cruising the pristine waterways of Marco Island.  Locals and visitors alike enjoy the outstanding cuisine, professional & friendly crew, and comfortable ambiance of a cruise aboard the beautiful 90’ Marco Island Princess!

Meals are prepared fresh on board for your enjoyment. The crew will attend to your every need. Two full service cash bars are set up to serve your favorite drinks!

Marco Island Cruises

The Marco Island Princess offers Sightseeing, Nature & History Lunch Cruise, Captain’s Sunset Dinner Cruise, Admiral’s Sunset Dinner Cruise, Sunset Cocktail Cruises and much more! While cruising, enjoy playful dolphins, warm sunshine, and Gulf breezes.  The beautiful view changes every moment.

Aboard the Marco Island Princess

Marco Island Princess cruises can accommodate individuals, families, small and large groups and any special event!

Marco Island Special Events

In addition, the Marco Island Princess specializes in wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, bridal luncheons, bachelorette/bachelor parties and gift brunches.   They can arrange everything from start to finish.  The staff will completely accommodate your needs including table settings, custom menu, flowers, entertainment, photography, transportation, special decorations and all the extras.   Luxurious appointments and first class service are provided aboard a beautiful yacht accommodating parties of up to 149.   Enjoy the pristine waters of Marco Island and the Gulf of Mexico!

Wedding Cake

The Princess departs from the convenient Rose Marina, 951 Bald Eagle Dr., Marco Island, FL.  It is located just minutes from anywhere on Marco Island.  Call (239) 394-4364 today to learn more about your many options, to reserve a date, or to speak with their event planning professionals.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see beautiful Marco Island with this fantastic sightseeing cruise.Sea Mar Condo Logo

Visit our website at www.seamarcondo.com to see our rates and availability. Our website also provides more information on Sea Mar Condo and Marco Island.  Let us help you make the most of your Marco Island vacation!

www.seamarcondo.com