Marco Island is located in south Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a great vacation destination, with a warm sub-tropical climate, beautiful natural scenery, and friendly locals. The surrounding area supports an abundance of wildlife. Visitors will find all kinds of things to do and see on and near the island. Of course, you may never want to leave the beach once you feel the soft sand beneath your feet and the clear turquoise water caressing your skin. While you’re at the beach, you can swim, jet ski, snorkel, or fish in the surf. Wait till low tide, and you’ll experience some wonderful shelling - some of the best anywhere. Or you might want to just “chill out” in the warm Florida sunshine.
If you’re into wildlife, visit the Babcock Wilderness Adventure in nearby Naples. This is a 90,000-acre ranch that’s home to Florida panthers, deer, alligators, wild turkeys, and many bird species, along with domestic cattle and horses. Hop on a swamp buggy for a tour through forests, marshes, and cypress swamps, viewing the native animals along the way. Pack a picnic to enjoy while you’re visiting the ranch, or hit the snack bar for some hot dogs, hamburgers, or gator bites.
The area is also rich in history, and the history buffs will not be disappointed. The nearby Cushing Archaeological Site is one of the most important and fascinating excavations in all of North America. Artifacts discovered at the site are over 3,000 years old. One of the oldest items found is the Marco Cat statue, an impressive example of ancient artwork.
Kids and adults will love the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. It’s a nationally accredited zoo and historic garden and was voted the “Best Place to Take Kids” by Gulfshore Life magazine. Visitors will tour the group of little islands on a catamaran, and they’ll see lemurs, monkeys, apes, and gibbons in natural surroundings very similar to the ones in their native lands. There are also play areas for kids, along with the Madagascar Pavilion, Leopard Rock, and Alligator Bay. Navigating the zoo’s paths is easy – they’re paved.
While you’re in the vicinity, you gotta see the Everglades! Take a thrilling tour through the sawgrass prairies on an air boat, where you’ll be up close to gators, manatees, snakes, deer, colorful birds, turtles, and all kinds of other critters. Some of the boats carry 30 passengers, so you can take the whole family. This is an amazing adventure, and one that the kids will never forget.
How ‘bout a short cruise of the area? A number of options are available and include a sightseeing tour, a shelling excursion, and a relaxing sunset cruise. If you want to dine right on the water, try a dinner and dancing cruise, or for something more exciting, try one of the party cruises.
What about the food? Over 80 restaurants in the area offer a wide variety of dishes, but the favorite is the fresh seafood. Feast on huge gulf shrimp, stone crab claws, scallops, and many types of local fish – all fresh from the surrounding waters. If your epicurean wishes seek something a little different, order the gator tail or frog legs.
If you’re a confirmed shopaholic, you can get your fix at Marco Island. Visit the Esplanade Shoppes - 50,000 square feet of boutiques, upscale shops, and specialty stores. The Town Center Mall is another great shopping spot. You’ll also find all kinds of charming boutiques and quaint little nooks scattered throughout the area. Ask a local for the “secret” shopping places.
Sports lovers can enjoy a game of tennis or racquet ball at the Collier County Racquet Center, or a game of basketball at one of the island’s parks. If you’re looking for a round of beach volleyball or Frisbee, head to Tigertail Beach. The area also has several gorgeous championship golf courses, ranging from easy to difficult and catering to all skill levels.
Did someone say fishing? If you love angling, you'll think you're in fish heaven! Fish are everywhere, and so are fishing opportunities. Your surest bet is to hire a fishing guide and head into the backwater for some tarpon, reds, and snook. If you're after the really big brutes, book passage on a charter fishing boat and tangle with a huge grouper, barracuda, or moster tarpon.
You’ll never be bored at Marco. There’s way too much to do – this is just a sample of the sights and activities. Your major problem will be tearing yourself away from the star attraction – the magnificent beaches!
Naples & Marco Island, South Florida, USA