Marco Island is the largest island in the beautiful chain of south Florida islands called the Ten Thousand Islands. Even though it is relatively close to Naples and connected to the mainland by two different bridges, the island maintains its remote, isolated feel. The island features a variety of delightful out-door activities, restaurants, wedding venues and day trips. Beach-going opportunities abound and include two public beaches as well as several offshore island beaches.
1.South Marco Beach
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South Marco Island Beach is one of only two public beaches on Marco Island. It is the quieter of the two beaches and therefore is perfect for families who want to relax, go shelling, or watch dolphins playing in the sea. The beach has few amenities, including parking for a fee as well as restrooms and a paved walkway to the beach.
Several businesses offer tours and adventure experiences on the beach or nearby, such as Off the Hook Adventures Sailing-Shelling-Sightseeing and Florida Adventures and Rentals. The 1-acre, palm-lined beachfront is located nearby several luxury hotels.
930 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-252-4000
2.Briggs Nature Center
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Briggs Nature Center is located between Marco Island and Naples at the Rookery Bay National Estua-rine Research Reserve. The nature center features a total of 3 miles of easy trails, including a ½-mile boardwalk that allows guests to explore the area's various habitats. The estuary is a natural nursery for fish, shellfish, and crustaceans and is home to many nesting birds.
In addition to the boardwalk, there are two other short trails that offer views of Rookery Bay. Wildlife such as bald eagles, snakes, bob-cats, river otters, hawks, and woodpeckers are quite commonly seen by visitors to the nature center.
401 Shell Island Road, Naples, FL 34113, Phone: 239-337-3332
3.Cape Romano, Marco Island
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Cape Romano is a cape at the southern tip of Marco Island. The main attraction is a collection of bi-zarre, outer-space looking buildings at the edge of the sea. The buildings were built as a vacation home in 1980 by a retired oil producer. The home has been hit by several storms over the years, including Hurricane Wilma, which washed away some of the coastline.
They are now abandoned and only acces-sible by boat. Some locals and visitors fish from the curiously formed domes. It is likely that the home will eventually recede into the rising sea, however they are an interesting sight to behold while they last.
4.Isles of Capri Marina
© Isles of Capri Marina
The Isles of Capri Marina is a full-service marina offering boat rentals in the Naples and Marco Island area. The marina is conveniently located near the Marco River, which provides easy access to the ocean and nearby waterways. The marina offers pontoons and kayaks.
Kayak rentals are best for trav-eling along the Marco River and paddling to islands that are only accessible by paddle. Powered pon-toons offer the opportunity for larger groups to enjoy a boat together and to travel a bit farther away. The marina staff are knowledgeable about the local area and can provide orientation information, di-rections, and tips for exploring the local waterways.
292 Capri Blvd., Naples, FL 34113, Phone: 239-389-4626
5.Isles of Capri Paddle Craft Park
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Isles of Capri Paddle Craft Park is a unique paddling park specifically for kayaks and paddleboards. Mo-torized boats are not allowed on the waters. The park features amenities such as parking, picnic areas, restrooms, and a kayak washing station. Guests can access the water by paying a small fee to launch their boat.
Individual and tandem rental kayaks can be delivered and picked up at the park with prior reservation. Kayak tours are also a great way to explore the park and surrounding area with a guide. The tours visit mangrove tunnels and many visitors spot dolphins and manatees during the trips.
Collier Boulevard & Capri Boulevard, Naples, FL 34113, Phone: 239-530-5940
6.Things to Do in Marco Island: Keewaydin Island
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Keewaydin Island is a barrier island located off the coast of Naples and is home to a variety of wildlife such as wild boar, white-tailed deer, bobcat, iguanas, and the gopher tortoise. The island is also a common nesting site for loggerhead turtles. The island is primitive with no cars, roads, or bridges and only has dirt pathways winding from private docks to homes. Because the natural beauty has been largely preserved, visitors can experience a pristine, natural ecosystem.
The public beach is a great place to have a picnic consisting of a burger from the local burger barge, which serves sandwiches and cold drinks on the sand. To get to the island, visitors must rent a boat, come as part of a tour, or travel with a private person who has a boat.
7.Mangrove Maniacs, Marco Island
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The Marco Island area is famous for fishing. There are quality fishing opportunities all year round in the Gulf waters, freshwater lakes, and nearby rivers. Marco Island Boat Tours offers unique guided fishing trips and customizable tours of the surrounding areas. The tours are never the same from day to day because the guides schedule the route based on the day's weather and tide conditions to give guests the best opportunity to see wildlife.
Most of their trips are private and can include up to six people on a boat, creating a fairly intimate tour experience. Guests can completely customize every aspect of their tour to make it exactly what they would like it to be.
1104 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-777-5707
8.Marco Island Boat Tours
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Marco Island Boat Tours specializes in educational tours in the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Everglades National Park, and other protected areas. The company is unique in that all of their guides are environmental educators and Florida Master Naturalists.
The com-pany offers several tour options, one of their most popular being the Family Beach Half Day Tour, which takes guests on a 4-hour trip to explore the many facets of the Ten Thousand Islands. The tour includes a naturalist-led boat tour that teaches guests about the area's native wildlife as well as time on a beach for shelling and swimming and a family-friendly fishing opportunity.
1083 N. Collier Blvd. #322, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-695-0000
9.Marco Island Historical Museum
© Marco Island Historical Museum
The Marco Island Historical Museum is a historical museum that is dedicated to the history and devel-opment of Marco Island, including exhibits related to the Calusa Indians. The museum includes an en-tire room that features a replica of a Calusa village and gives visitors a glimpse into the daily lives of this vanished civilization.
The museum exhibits feature many artifacts that have been discovered in ar-cheological digs on Marco Island. The exhibits trace the history of the island from its early days as an Indian village, through its years as a pioneer fishing village, and on to its explosive development as a world-class tourist destination.
180 S. Heathwood Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-642-1440
10.Marco Island Princess
© Marco Island Princess
The Marco Island Princess is a beautiful, 90-foot-long yacht that provides daily sightseeing cruises. Tours aboard the Marco Princess depart from Rose Marina and are the perfect way to explore the Marco Island area in style. Guests can choose from a buffet-style lunch cruise, complete with nature and history narration by the captain, and two options of sunset dinner cruises.
The food served aboard the Marco Island Princess consists of spectacular offerings, including prime rib, turkey breast, salad, freshly baked cookies, and more. The yacht is also available for private charter and is especially popular for weddings, anniversary parties, and business functions.
951 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-642-5415
Next read: The Marco Island Historical Society
11.Marco Island Water Sports
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Marco Island Water Sports is a company that rents water sports equipment from four convenient loca-tions on Marco Island. Visitors can find the company at the Marriot Beach Resort, Hilton Marco Island, Marriot's Crystal Shores, and the Goodland Backbay Marina.
Guests can choose to rent wave runners to explore the local waterways on their own or participate in one of the company's fantastic adventure tours. The tours and activities offered include wave runner tours, parasailing, marine life eco-cruises, and more. Activities depart daily from the beachfront or several area hotels. Reservations are recom-mended for guests to guarantee a spot on the popular tours.
560 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-642-3377
12.Marco Murder and Mayhem, Marco Island, Florida
© Marco Murder and Mayhem
Marco Murder and Mayhem offers a unique experience for tourists on their one-of-a-kind “Frightsee-ing Tour.” The tour is a 2-hour ghost tour through haunted sites around Marco Island. The tour host is Martha Horror, who is locally known as an expert on ghosts.
The tour kicks off with a complimentary cocktail beverage at Bistro Soleil, which is located inside an old, reportedly haunted, hotel called Olde Marco Inn. The tour visits five different locations, including a cemetery and an Indian burial site that is more than 300 years old. The tour guide will share frightening tales as the group visits the various sites.
100 Palm Street, Marco Island, FL, Phone: 239-537-8353
13.Otter Mound Preserve, Marco Island, Florida
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Otter Mound Preserve is a park and nature preserve located in the Indian Hills area of Marco Island. The preserve comprises approximately 2.5 acres consisting of mostly tropical hardwood forest. There is a small parking lot and bike rack at Addison Court, which also has handicapped parking. A mulched trail travels from the parking lot in a loop through the preserve and is shaded for most of its distance.
Benches dot the trail, providing a place to stop and rest or simply to sit and enjoy the natural surround-ings. Informative signs have been placed along the trail to provide interpretive information about the natural surroundings as well as the history of the site.
1831 Addison Court, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-252-2961
14.Sand Dollar Shelling
© Sand Dollar Shelling
Sand Dollar Shelling is a sightseeing company that offers a variety of boat tours. The tours include trips to secluded islands that are covered in beautiful and unique shells. As a part of the shelling tours, guests can often dolphin watch from the boat ride.
In fact, dolphin sightings are guaranteed on every tour conducted by the company. Sand Dollar also offers sunset cruises that take guests to a perfect spot on the water to see the sunset. In addition to sightseeing tours, the company offers chartered fishing trips where they supply all of the equipment and take customers to locations perfect for catch-ing fish or sharks.
740 Palm Point Drive, Marco Island, FL 34134, Phone: 239-301-8913
15.Things to Do in Marco Island: Scuba Marco
© Scuba Marco
Scuba Marco is a full-service dive shop that offers a selection of diving trips as well as certification clas-ses. The shop offers both PADI and SSI scuba certifications. They additionally offer “Dive-N-A-Day” ex-periences for non-divers.
These introductory sessions range from a 90-minute class playing in the pool with scuba gear to a trip out on a dive boat to experience real-life diving. The shop is stocked with eve-rything needed for diving, such as mask and fins and more, both for rent and for purchase. They also have a certified technician on staff who can make repairs to scuba equipment.
1141 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-389-7889
© Breakwater Adventures
Breakwater Adventures is a boat tour company offering a selection of interesting tours and adventure activities. Some of the company's most popular trips are dolphin tours, which give guests the oppor-tunity to see dolphins, manatees, wild birds, rays, and more in their natural habitat.
Additionally, guests can take a private cruise to a remote white-sand beach for a fantastic shelling experience. For those who are looking for a bit more of an adrenaline rush, the company offers tubing, waterskiing, and wake-boarding as well. The tours are always private charters and can be combined into a custom boat tour and beach day package.
909 Collier Court, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 305-902-4772
17.Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
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The Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge is located on Florida's southwest coast. This 35,000-acre refuge is mostly made up of mangrove habitats that are home to many wildlife species, some of which are endangered. Wildlife watching and birding are some of the most popular activities in the refuge and manatees are commonly seen, as are many beautiful birds, sea turtles, and a large variety of other animals.
Wildlife can be spotted by boat or by following the 1-mile Tamiami Trail. The trail is basic, and unimproved and has limited parking. Boats are also permitted in the refuge, offering anoth-er way to see the wildlife and experience the surroundings. Fishing and hunting are both permitted in the park.
12085 State Road 29 South, Immokalee, FL 34142, Phone: 239-657-8001
18.The Dolphin Explorer
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The Dolphin Explorer is a dolphin survey company offering dolphin eco-tours. The Dolphin Explorer is also the name of their boat, a 30-foot catamaran that can carry up to 28 passengers and has both a covered and a sunny section. The company provides free beverages, shelling bags, and more. The crew includes a Master Naturalist and a professional wildlife photographer and is piloted by a USCG Master Captain.
The company offers two trips each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During the tours, guests will have the opportunity to see a variety of dolphins while participating in the Dolphin Survey. The survey is a long-term study of the abundance, movement, and behavior of the area's bottlenose dolphins.
951 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145,Phone: 239-642-6899
19.Tigertail Beach, Marco Island, Florida
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Tigertail Beach is a public beach and park that is well developed and features a wide range of amenities as well as preserved natural habitats for shorebirds. The park is managed by park rangers and attend-ants. There is a large pay parking lot, six boardwalks, restrooms, and a picnic area with grills while for families with small children, there are a playground and a butterfly garden.
A variety of beach rentals are available, including stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, electric boats, and beach cabanas. The Tigertail Beach Park includes a tidal lagoon that separates it from the Sand Dollar Spit. The lagoon is home to a wide range of wildlife such as crabs, fish, and conches.
490 Hernando Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-389-8414
20.Verdi's An American Bistro
© Verdi's An American Bistro
Verdi's American Bistro is a romantic restaurant that serves traditional American cuisine in a sophisti-cated atmosphere. From its outside setting in a strip mall, the restaurant is unassuming. However, the menu completely overcomes any hesitation the outer appearance might cause. Some of the menu items include a pan-seared Chilean sea bass topped with a glaze made from hoisin sauce and paired with fingerling potatoes and sautéed spinach.
Other favorites include crispy duck, rack of lamb, pork prime rib, and a home-made apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream. The restaurant is one of the top fine dining restaurants in the area and is ideal for a date night or special occasion.
241 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-394-5533
21.Fin Bistro, Marco Island, FL
© Fin Bistro
Fin Bistro is a relaxed dinner restaurant serving a menu of fresh fish and seafood dishes. The restau-rant serves mostly simple dishes but also carries and prepares fresh fish, as its name would suggest. The seafood dishes are typically prepared simply and served with seasonal vegetables and innovative side dishes like bacon-wrapped arugula potato cake.
Meat lovers won't be disappointed either, and meaty favorites include a cider-brined pork tenderloin that comes with a smoked tomato butter, pota-to puree, and a farm bean salad. Many of the ingredients used at Fin Bistro are sourced locally from fishermen and farmers on Marco Island.
317 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-970-6064
22.Malenda Trick Art Gallery, Marco Island, Florida
© Malenda Trick Art Gallery
Malenda Trick Gallery and Studio is an art gallery in the city of Marco Island. Malenda is a self-taught artist who climbed her way to prominence in the home decor and gift industry. She works with many interior designers and home decor specialists to paint custom works for homes around the country.
Her work is reminiscent of 19th-century Impressionism as well as the work of Old World masters. Visi-tors to Marco Island can visit Malenda's gallery to view or purchase some of her beautiful paintings. The gallery frequently hosts art shows, special events, and art classes, especially around the holidays.
160 Royal Palm Drive #274, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-394-2787
© TropicBird Ecotours
TropicBird Ecotours is a sightseeing and boat tour company serving the Naples and Marco Island area. The tours occur aboard a 34-foot catamaran called the TropicBird, which can operate in incredibly shal-low waters, meaning it is able to access areas that larger vessels cannot. The company only offers one slow-paced tour each day.
The tours are full-day, private, chartered trips tailored specifically to each group's interests and preferred activities. Tours visit mangrove forests, the Everglades, and beautiful pristine islands and include lunch, snacks, and beverages. The vessel features large deck areas with lounge chairs, a hammock, and covered areas to escape the sun.
385 Angler Drive, Goodland, FL 34140, Phone: 239-595-4828
© Vantastic Tours
Vantastic Tours is tour company that offers daily eco-tours of the Marco Island area. They offer two 5-hour tours that leave in the morning and afternoon, respectively. It's also possible to arrange Marco Island Historical Tours through the company. The tours are perfect for families and are a great educa-tional opportunity to teach children about the delicate ecosystem of southern Florida.
The trip consists of a ride in an air-conditioned luxury van through the Everglades that includes narration from a tour guide on the history, natural habitat, and wildlife of the region. Additionally, the tour includes a 1-hour long ride through the sawgrass marshes on an airboat. Boat riders usually encounter wildlife such as alligators and snakes.
531 E Coconut Avenue, Goodland, FL 34140, Phone: 239-394-7699
25.Marco Island Brewery
© Marco Island Brewery
Marco Island Brewery is a laid-back brewhouse that offers a wide range of beers on tap as well as crea-tive pub food. The small-scale brew operation produces three house brews – The Rock IPA, Pelican Pilsner, and Tigertail Red Ale.
In addition, they serve more than 40 varieties of beer from all over the world. The food menu is a step up from traditional bar fare and includes everything from pizza and sandwiches to an elegant eggplant caprese. The restaurant is the largest sports bar on the island and shows a large variety of sporting events on their 40 HD TVs, making Marco Island Brewery a great place to cheer on your favorite team.
1089 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-970-0461
25 Best Things to Do on Marco Island, Florida
- South Marco Beach, Photo: Courtesy of tyler - Fotolia.com
- Briggs Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of madajar - Fotolia.com
- Cape Romano, Marco Island, Photo: Courtesy of lsclayton - Fotolia.com
- Isles of Capri Marina, Photo: Isles of Capri Marina
- Isles of Capri Paddle Craft Park, Photo: Courtesy of Neil Colgate - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Marco Island: Keewaydin Island, Photo: Courtesy of tyler - Fotolia.com
- Mangrove Maniacs, Marco Island, Photo: Courtesy of trek6500 - Fotolia.com
- Marco Island Boat Tours, Photo: Courtesy of csfotoimages - Fotolia.com
- Marco Island Historical Museum, Photo: Marco Island Historical Museum
- Marco Island Princess, Photo: Marco Island Princess
- Marco Island Water Sports, Photo: Courtesy of yanlev - Fotolia.com
- Marco Murder and Mayhem, Marco Island, Florida, Photo: Marco Murder and Mayhem
- Otter Mound Preserve, Marco Island, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of Pakhnyushchyy - Fotolia.com
- Sand Dollar Shelling, Photo: Sand Dollar Shelling
- Things to Do in Marco Island: Scuba Marco, Photo: Scuba Marco
- Breakwater Adventures, Photo: Breakwater Adventures
- Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Courtesy of arinahabich - Fotolia.com
- The Dolphin Explorer, Photo: Courtesy of JanThomas - Fotolia.com
- Tigertail Beach, Marco Island, Florida, Photo: Courtesy of Felix Mizioznikov - Fotolia.com
- Verdi's An American Bistro, Photo: Verdi's An American Bistro
- Fin Bistro, Marco Island, FL, Photo: Fin Bistro
- Malenda Trick Art Gallery, Marco Island, Florida, Photo: Malenda Trick Art Gallery
- TropicBird Ecotours, Photo: TropicBird Ecotours
- Vantastic Tours, Photo: Vantastic Tours
- Marco Island Brewery, Photo: Marco Island Brewery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Felix Mizioznikov - Fotolia.com