Life’s a beach on Marco Island getaways. There’s silken white sands here, studded with sea shells, and the clear turquoise waters that lap the shores of this idyllic little barrier island on Florida’s Paradise Coast are nothing short of irresistible. But Marco Island getaways are also about nature, and there’s jaw-dropping bird and marine life to enjoy, a bagful of State Parks and nature reserves to explore, plus the Everglades National Park right on the doorstep.
A string of sugar-white sands unfold along the island’s coastline, making for the ideal place to soak up the Florida sun and unwind. Beaches with names like Hideaway and Tigertail are as enticing as they sound, and you can split your time between kicking-back on a lounger and slipping into the ocean to cool off. There’s also great shelling to be found and collectors comb the sands for treasures like sand dollars, rose petal tellins and zigzag scallops.
With ocean all around, and the land sliced and diced by countless rivers and canals, it’s a watery world here – and that makes for ideal watersports and fishing territory. You can float away on all manner of boat trips, from a deep-sea fishing charter to a dolphin and manatee-spotting cruise; or you can rent a kayak to paddle round the ‘Thousand Islands’ that pepper the Gulf waters. Plus there’s parasailing, jet skiing and paddle boarding to choose from.
Once the sun has set, the nightlife on Marco Island getaways is sophisticated rather than storming, and if fresh seafood pulled straight from the dock is your thing, then you’ll be in food heaven. Many restaurants have waterside locations where you can drink in the view, plus there are some cool bars to discover – and always the promise of another exquisitely sunny day in paradise to follow.
This National Estuarine Reserve is one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. It’s a place of pristine beauty, and you can walk the trails, paddle a canoe, or take a guided boat tour to spot bottle-nosed dolphins, manatees, raccoons, bald eagles, and a whole host of native plants and wildflowers.
Sleek Naples with its beautiful beaches and waterfront mansions is just 15 miles away. Walk the iconic pier for superb views and dolphin spotting; hit the shops of Olde Naples to drool over upscale clothes shops, boutiques and galleries; or play a round of top golf at one of the local courses – there’s a hatful to choose from.
Gulf sunsets are some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the world. Find a spot on the sand or sip a cocktail on an outdoor terrace as the sun sinks into the sea in a riot of colour after another flaming Florida day. Listen for the claps from the beach as the sun disappears and watch for the green flash on the horizon that follows.
With the Everglades so close, the birdlife on Marco Island is nothing short of astonishing. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach or paddling a canoe, keep your eyes peeled for pelicans, bald eagles, osprey, frigatebirds, peregrine falcons, black-crowned night herons, roseate spoonbills, spotted sandpipers and American oystercatchers.
In prehistoric times, the Calusa Indian tribe, who lived mainly on shellfish and built their homes atop great piles of discarded shells (the higher the pile, the better your status), made Marco Island into an important religious centre. Find out all about the life and times of these fascinating people at the Marco Island Historical Museum.
Naples Trolley Tours
Sit back in an authentic, all-weather trolley and gain an insight into Naples’ colourful history on an entertaining tour, taking you past over a hundred local points of interest. From £20 per person.
Encounter manatees, alligators, a profusion of birds and other wildlife on a thrilling airboat ride into these world-famous tropical wetlands. Half day tours from £75 per person / Full day tours from £105 per person.
A great place for families and beach lovers in general, the lagoon is the perfect spot for sun-bathing. You can also hire a kayak and access many of the small mangrove inlets. Beach the kayak on Sand Dollar Spit for fantastic shelling and the opportunity to spot herons, kingfishers and ibis feeding in the shallows