There are so many places and things to see and do when on vacation in Marco Island. We have made a list of 10 of our favorite things to see and do for both adults and children, while enjoying your vacation.
1. Crescent Beach
Crescent Beach is 3 1/2 miles of pristine white sand beach along the western coast of Marco Island perfect for walking, relaxation, or water sports. Our condo overlooks Crescent Beach from the north end of the island.
2. Tigertail Beach/Lagoon
Tigertail Beach is located in close walking distance from our condo. This beach area surrounds a lagoon, which can also be seen from our condo. To walk to Tigertail Beach Park, cross the bridge from the pool area onto the beach and turn right. It is a clean, well kept park where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and beach trikes to explore the lagoon area which is beautiful with heron and ibis nesting along its banks. There is also a great cafe there serving breakfast and lunch. By either crossing the lagoon or by walking around it, you can get to Tigertail Beach, with its blinding white sand and blue-green water – and be sure to find the shell tree and leave your imprint on the island.
Above, Gloria has just taken her first stand-up paddle board lesson with much success – she didn’t fall off once. I took the picture while kayaking in Tigertail Lagoon on a girl’s fun morning out adventure. The folks at Tigertail Beach Rentals are great at giving lessons in paddle boarding and kayaking (included in the rental price).
Tigertail Beach Rentals (239) 389-8414 , http://www.tigertailbeach.net (Ask about their morning specials)
What is prettier than a Marco Island sunset? Whether sitting on the beach or dining at one of the island’s beachfront restaurants, it is the perfect end to the day. One of our favorite places on the island to see the sunset is the Sunset Grill (239) 389-0509 located on the south end of Crescent Beach at the Apollo, 900 S Collier Blvd. Be sure to take your camera.
Shelling is a fun experience, but plan for it and allow time for gathering your treasures. If you plan to walk across a sand bar, start 2 hours before low tide to give yourself plenty of time before high tides pose a problem for returning home. Have comfortable water shoes and sunscreen and bring a mesh bag or shelling bucket to carry your shells in. DO NOT take live shells – it is illegal on Marco Island. Shelling is best in the Tigertail Beach area, but Crescent Beach has many shells as well. There is a coffee table book in the condo that you can use to identify your shells.
Tide Chart can be found at http://www.marcoweather.com
5. Marco Island Princess
The beautiful 90′ Marco Island Princess is an excellent way to see parts of the island from the water, sailing daily from Rose Marina, 951 Bald Eagle Drive. The Marco Island Princess offers sightseeing, nature and history, dinner and sunset cruises. While cruising enjoy playful dolphins and beautiful views of the island and waterfront homes. Sunshine Tours & Charters (239) 642-5415
Check their website http://marcoislandprincess.com for schedules and coupons.
6. Key West Express
There’s nothing better than boating though the Gulf waters on a fast ferry heading south to the beautiful and entertaining island of Key West. The ferry boards from 7:00 am to 8:00 am and departs at 8:30 am from Rose Marian, 951 Bald Eagle Drive. It takes approximately 3 hours to get to Key West where you can eat lunch and sight see for 6 hours before either returning home later in the evening or staying overnight to return the next day.
7. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is a must see for visitors to the Marco Island area. Whether by jet ski through the 10,000 islands, a short drive to Everglades City to take an airboat ride through the mangroves and grasslands, or a swamp buggy tour above the marshes of the cypress forest it is a fun day’s adventure. You will learn about the Everglades plants and animals and it is not unusual to spot alligators, raccoons, and rare birds. For the children, there is also an animal sanctuary, which is home to tigers, panthers, a lion, turtles, otters, snakes, crocodiles and over 100 alligators.
Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours. 200 Collier Ave, Everglades City, FL 34139. 1-(877)-663-2031 http://www.captainjacksairboattours.com
Captain Ron’s Everglades Adventures (jet ski tour). Leaves from Caxambas Park Marina, 909 Collier Court. http://www.evergladesjetskitours.com (239) 777-9975
Fifth Avenue south in nearby Naples is a Main Street of fashion boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, coffee and ice cream shops (Kilwin’s), art galleries, and gift stores. It has become a popular place for visitors to stroll along the nicely landscaped promenades and enjoy sidewalk dining. On Marco Island, The Esplanade Shoppes, located on North Collier Blvd is a coastal Italian-style village consisting of upscale retailers and small specialty stores. The Marco Walk Plaza, located at the intersection of South Collier Blvd and Winterberry Drive combines a collection of specialty shops, salons and spas, and a variety of dining options. There is also a Walmart located a few miles off the island at 6650 Collier Blvd, Naples and very close by that location is Lowes, Home Depot and Marshalls.
9. Bird Watching, Sea Life, and Fishing
Tigertail Beach is home to soft white sand, a variety of shells, dolphins swimming off shore, ospreys squealing overhead and so many shore birds that it’s a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail. Adjacent to Tigertail Beach Park is Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife area, managed by the state and a resting site for a variety of migratory shorebirds. Three species – black skimmers, snowy plovers and least terns – nest and raise their young in the protected area of Tigertail. Around Marco Island and the Everglades, the mangroves fill with white and brown pelicans, roseate spoonbills, white ibises, great blue herons, green herons, snowy egrets, red-shouldered hawks, bald eagles and ospreys.
The waters off Marco Island are alive with the full cast of the Gulf of Mexico’s tropical sea life. Species include sea turtles, dolphin, manatee, and spadefish. Manatees inhabit the waters around Marco Island and it is not unusual to see these beautiful sea cows in the inlets around the inland. It is very common to see dolphins playing in the waters off Crescent Beach.
Loggerhead sea Turtles begin nesting on the island between May and August and 60 days after a nest is laid, baby turtles emerge from the nest in the dark and crawl to the water (between July and October). When walking the beach, be sure to look for the yellow taped nests that mark the turtle nesting areas. Did you know that research managers check each nest daily to record nest activity?
Dolphin Explorer – This is a great adventure for kids! (239) 642-6899 http://www.dolphin-study.com
Hemingway Water Shuttle (239) 315-1136 http://www.hemingwatershuttle.com
Avi’s Watersports (239) 777-9873 http://www.aviwatersports.com
Back Water Adventure Marco Island (239) 877-4531 http://www.backwateradventure.com
Fishing on Marco Island
Marco Island Florida – lies in the midst of some of the world’s best game fishing waters. Angling in the vicinity of two of the artificial reefs – each a mile by a half mile in size – built in 20 feet of water a mile offshore and in 30 feet of water about 5 miles out, has met with great success. Tarpon, Snook, grouper, Kingfish, Mackeral, Redfish, Sheepshead, Pompano and shark are among the many different species of fish caught in these waters.
Before you go fishing, Florida regulations require that you have a saltwater or fresh water fishing license, unless you are angling from a charter boat or vessel which already has the appropriate licenses. Florida and Marco Island residents need a fishing license only if fishing from a boat other than a licensed charter boat. Exceptions: any resident over 65 or under 16. Licenses good for one year, are required for both salt and fresh water fishing. Non-Florida residents 16 and over must obtain either a three-day, seven-day or one-year licenses. For more up to date information about licenses, contact the Collier County Tax Collector’s offices, 1040 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, Florida or call (239)-394-6986.
To see a Fishing Species Chart for Marco Island, click on this link:
10. Dining on Marco Island
Magical and mystical, Marco Island is a tropical paradise. Color splashed sunsets on sparkling Gulf waters and a white sand beach. What could be more relaxing than dining in this setting in a casual atmosphere with live beach music?
Restaurants on the island offer diversified cuisine and many serve Florida’s freshest seafood (“today’s catch”) – jumbo shrimp, sweet scallops, succulent crabs and grouper. If you enjoy fishing, some restaurants will even prepare your catch of the day for dinner. Many of Marco Island’s restaurants offer on the water or on the beach dining. Our condo provides a coffee table book listing many island restaurants and copies of menus to help with your dining selections.
Some of our favorites…..Note: ($$$) is more pricey, but great for special occasions.
The World Famous Snook Inn (pictured), 1215 Bald Eagle Dr. (239) 394-3313 http://www.snookinn.com
Sunset Grille at the Apollo (great for sunsets), 900 S Collier Blvd. (239) 393-8433 http://www.sunsetgrilleonmarcoisland.com
Sand Bar (sports bar w/great seafood and burgers), 826 E Elkcam Circle (239) 642-3625 http://sandbarmarco.com
CJ’s on the Bay (at the Esplanade), 740 N Collier Blvd (239) 389-4511 http://cjsonthebay.com
Marco Island Princess (dinner cruise) Rose Marina, 951 Bald Eagle Dr. (239) 642-5415 http://themarcoislandprincess.com
Nacho Mama’s (Mexican) 599 S Collier Blvd (239) 389-2222 http://thenachomamas.com
Tigertail Beach Cafe (breakfast/lunch) close walk on beach from condo (239) 394-8828 http://www.tigertailbeach.net
Doreen’s Cup of Joe (great breakfast/lunch), 267 N. Collier Blvd (239) 394-2600 http://doreenscupofjoe.com
Red Rooster (breakfast/lunch), 1821 San Marco Rd, (239) 394-3100 http://redroostermarco.com
Sweet Annie’s of Marco (ice cream), 692 Bald Eagle Dr. (239) 642-7180
Mango’s, 760 N Collier Blvd #109 (at the Esplanade) (239) 393-2433 http://mangosdocksidebistro.com
Dolphin Tiki Bar & grill, 1021 Anglers Cove (239) 394-4048 http://dolphintikibar.com
Marco Island Brewery, 1089 N Collier Blvd (239) 970-0461 http://marcoislandbrewery.com
The Oyster Society ($$$), 599 S Collier Blvd (239) 394-3474 http://theoystersociety.com
Fin Bistro ($$$), 657 S Collier Blvd (239) 970-6064 http://finbistro.com
Marco Prime Steak & Seafood ($$$) 599 S Collier Blvd (239) 389-2333 http://marcoprime.com
Sale e Pepe ($$$), 480 S Collier Blvd (239)393-1600 http://sale-e-pepe.com
Da Vinci’s ($$$) (Italian), 599 S Collier Blvd (239) 389-1888 http://ristorantedayinci.com