20 Best Things To Do On Marco Island [Florida]
The Sunshine State, Florida, has a lot to boast about: Disneyland, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center, and—of course—the sand, beaches, and almost year-long sun that earned Florida its moniker.
The abundance isn’t the only thing that separates Florida from the rest of the states in USA. The Sunshine State also has a chain of equally beautiful islands off its southwestern coast.
Ten Thousand Islands, the chain of barrier islands off the southwest coast of Florida, is an ideal place for you to visit if you want to soak up on the Floridian sun, but without the crowds, traffic jam, or your boss asking you where the heck you are.
In spite of the name Ten Thousand Islands, there are only more or less a hundred islets in actuality. Most of those are uninhabited, but there are also a handful that’s worth a visit: Pavilion Key, St. Vincent Island, Anna Maria Island, Boca Grande, and Marco Island are some of those islands that still hold a significant level of tourism in them. Marco Island, however, is the largest and the most, if not the only, developed island in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands.
Marco Island, although linked to mainland Florida by bridges in Naples, still maintains its remote and isolated vibe. The island provides a number of things to see and do, and there is definitely something for everyone:
Here's a quick intro for those that don't know the island
Where Is Marco Island?
Marco Island is a city in Collier County, Florida, United States, which is situated on an island in the Gulf of Mexico off the south western coast of Florida.
Marco Island is the biggest among the barrier island inside Southwest Florida's Ten Thousand Islands area stretching southerly to Cape Sable. Parts of the island have some picturesque, high elevations relative to the usually flat south Florida landscape.
Marco Island Weather
Here are 20 experiences you should not miss when visiting Marco Island!
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 1
Lounging on South Marco Island
There are only two beaches on Marco Island that are open to the public, and South Marco is the quieter beach and thus is ideal for families who want to just lounge on the sand or watch dolphins in the sea. The beach offers only a few basic amenities like restrooms and parking spaces for a fee. There are a handful of businesses nearby, though, that offer tours and beach and sightseeing adventures.
There are also several rentals here for water activity gear. Other activities to do on the island include bird-watching and unmatched shelling.
The palm-lined waterfront is close by a number of luxury hotels in the island.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 2
Exploring Briggs Nature Center
Briggs Nature Center, located between Naples, Florida and Marco Island at the Rookery Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserve, offers 3 miles of easy hiking trails, plus a half-mile footpath that lets guests walk around the several habitats in the area. The nature center is a natural nursery for various shellfish, fish, crustaceans, among many nesting fowls. Aside from the footpath, there are a couple more shorter trails that offer panoramic vistas of the Rookery Bay.
Guests could see and encounter wildlife like snakes, bald eagles, bobcats, hawks, otters, and woodpeckers there.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 3
Visiting Cape Romano
Cape Romano, found at the southernmost part of Marco Island, features a collection of weird, bizarre, outer-space looking structures at the edge of the waters. These structures were built for a vacation home way back in the 1980s by a retired oil producer. The said home has been relentlessly hit by a lot of storms through the years, as well as Hurricane Wilma, which washed away some of the coastlines.
The structures are now abandoned and uninhabited and only accessible by boat. Several locals and guests fish from the interestingly formed domes. It is probable that the home will sooner or later disappear into the rising sea. Nevertheless, they are a fascinating sight to marvel at while they last.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 4
Kayaking on Capri Marina
The isles of Capri Marina is a fully functional port that offers boat rentals within the Marco Island and Naples area. The marina is aptly situated near the Marco River, which allows easy access to the nearby waterways and the ocean. Moreover, it also offers kayaks and pontoons.
Kayaks are ideal for taking a trip along the Marco River and travelling to islands that are only accessible by paddle. Motorized pontoons provide the opportunity for bigger groups to be in a boat together and to travel farther away. The staff in the marina are well-informed about the local sights can offer briefing, pertinent information, and tips for exploring the waterways.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 5
Paddling on Capri Paddle Craft Park
The isles of Capri Paddle is a quaint paddling park, particularly for paddleboards and kayaks. Motor boats are strictly prohibited on the waters. There are individual and tandem kayaks available, and they can be delivered and picked up at the park, as long as there has been a prior reservation. These kayak tours are an ideal way to explore the isles of Capri Paddle Craft Park and its surrounding areas with a guide. This tour visits mangrove tunnels, and if you are lucky, you just might be able to spot some manatees and dolphins playing around.
The Isles of Capri Paddle Craft Park offers certain amenities like parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and a kayak washing station. The guests can access the water with a small fee to launch their kayaks.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 6
Wildlife Seeing at Keewaydin Island
Keewaydin Island is also a barrier island situated off the coast of Naples. It is home to various wildlife species like white-tailed deer, wild boar, iguanas, bobcat, and the gopher tortoise. Keewaydin Island is likewise a common nesting spot for loggerhead turtles. This particular island is primitive with no roads, bridges, cars, and only meandering dirt roads from private docks to homes.
The natural beauty of Keewaydin Island is well-preserved, so visitors can enjoy its untouched and pristine ecosystem. It has a local burger barge, though, at the public beach where visitors could enjoy cold drinks and sandwiches on the sand.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 7
Fishing at Mangrove Maniacs
One of the best things to do in Marco Island is fishing. All year long, there are plenty of fishing opportunities in the freshwater lakes, nearby rivers, and Gulf waters. The island offers unique guided fishing tours and customizable trips to the surrounding islands. The trips vary from day to day because these tours are heavily based on the day’s weather and water conditions. Majority of those trips are private and can have up to six people on a boat to ensure an intimate tour experience. However, guests still have the option to customize their tour as they prefer.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 8
Join in on Marco Island Boat Tours
Marco Island also offers boat tours that specialize in educational tours in the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Everglades National Park, and other areas. One of the companies that provide these tours is Marco Island Boat Tours that have Florida Master Naturalists for tour guides. They also offer various tour options like the Family Beach Half Day Tour that takes to explore Ten Thousand Islands for 4 hours. This tour includes a guided boat tour about the archipelago’s local wildlife as well as beach time for swimming and fishing.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 9
Learn History at Marco Island Historical Museum
Photo credit: Must Do Visitor Guides
The Marco Island Historical Museum is dedicated to the development as well as the rich history of Marco Island. Its exhibits include artworks related to the Calusa Indians. They also feature a life-size replica of a Calusa village and gives guests a peek at the lives of this extinct civilization.
Aside from that, Marco Island Historical Museum also presents several relics that were discovered in archeological digs in the island. It also shows a historical timeline of the island starting from the years Marco Island became the pioneer fishing village to its quick development as a world-class tourist destination.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 10
Enjoy A Cruise On The Marco Island Princess
Is anybody up for a posh cruise? The Marco Island Princess is a stunning, 90-foot long cruise yacht that offers daily sightseeing tours to guests. The tours on the Marco Island Princess start from Rose Marina. This is the ideal way to explore the island and its surrounding islets in style. The cruises on this yacht also provide buffet-style lunch that guests can choose from, along with complete history and nature narration by the captain himself, and a couple of sunset dinner cruises choices.
The food served at the Marco Island Princess tours is just as stellar as their service, too. They serve spectacular dishes like prime rib, salad, turkey breast, freshly baked cookies, and a lot more. They also do private charters and are popular for parties, weddings, and business functions.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 11
Play Water Sports
Marco Island Water Sports rents water sports gear and equipment from the company’s four convenient spots on Marco Island. The company has rentals on Marriot Beach Resort, Hilton Marco Island, Marriot’s Crystal Shores, and the Goodland Backbay Marina.
Among the equipment that guests can rent are wave runners to discover the local canals on their own or join in one of the company’s terrific adventure tours: parasailing, wave runner tours, marine life eco-cruises, and a lot more. Guests are advised to book early, since the most popular tours are easily booked out especially during the holiday seasons.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 12
Solve the Mystery at Marco Murder and Mayhem
Now, this tour isn’t for the faint-hearted. The Marco Murder and Mayhem offers a one-of-a-kind two-hour ghost tour through haunted spots around Marco Island. Martha Horror, the tour host and guide, is locally known as an expert on ghosts.
The Murder and Mayhem tour starts with a complimentary cocktail drink at Bistro Soleil, which is situated in an old and supposedly haunted hotel called Olde Marco Inn. This tour visits five locations, including an Indian burial ground that is over 300 years old, and a cemetery. While touring, Martha Horror will even share frightening tales to add creeps to the tour.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 13
Take a Hike at Otter Mound Preserve
Situated in the Indian Hills area of Marco Island is Otter Mound Preserve, a park and nature preserve that comprises an estimated 2.5 acres of mainly tropical hardwood forest. There are benches dotting the trail to provide a place to stop and rest, or simply to sit and appreciate the beautiful surroundings. Informative signs and posts are also placed along the trail to give information about the history of the site as well as the natural surroundings.
The preserve has a small parking lot, a handicapped parking, and a bike rack at Addison Court. A mulched path traverses from the parking lot in a loop through the preserve and is mostly shaded by the verdant greens in the Otter Mound Preserve.
1831 Addison Court, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-252-2961
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 14
Sand Dollar Shelling
One of the many kinds of tours offered on Marco Island is shelling. Sand Dollar Shelling is a company that offers a variety of sightseeing boat tours. Their tours include exploring isolated and secluded islands adorned with unique and delightful shells. Part of the shelling tours include guests watching dolphins from the boat ride.
As a matter of fact, dolphin sightings are guaranteed on each and every boat tour organized by the Sand Dollar Shelling company. They also offer sunset tours that take guests to an ideal spot on the water to watch the sunset. Furthermore, the company also offers guided fishing trips, all supplies and equipment provided, that take guests to perfect locations for catching fish or sharks.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 15
Scuba Marco is an all-inclusive dive shop that provides options for diving tips as well as certification classes. It also offers both SSI and PADI scuba certifications. Plus, they add in the “Dive-N-A-Day” experience for non-divers who want to experience the beauty of the great depths.
Introductory sessions reach up to 90 minutes playing in the pool with scuba equipment to a trip out on a dive boat for a real-life diving experience. Their shop has a healthy supply of everything essential for diving, like masks, fins, and more, both for rent and purchase. They also have an onsite certified technician to fix defective scuba equipment.
1141 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-389-7889
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 16
See the Dolphins
Your vacation to Marco Island wouldn’t be complete without seeing the dolphins, the most intelligent mammals under the sea. Breakwater Adventures, a boat tour company that offers a variety of water adventure tours, give guests a chance to see manatees, dolphins, stingrays, wild birds, and a lot more animals in their natural habitat.
Moreover, guests could also book a private chartered tour to a secluded white-sand beach island for a wonderful shelling experience. For those who are on the adventurous side and those who want an adrenaline rush, the company also offers waterskiing, tubing, and wakeboarding too. Their tours are all private and guests can customise their tours and packages according to their budget and preferences.
909 Collier Court, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 305-902-4772
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 17
Take a Hike on Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
The Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge is situated off the coast of southwestern Florida. This 35,000 acres of mangrove habitats is home to a variety of wildlife species, some of which are already endangered. Wildlife watching and birding are a couple of the most coveted activities in the sanctuary. A number of manatees are usually seen, along with many vibrantly colored birds, turtles, and other animals.
A lot of those animals can be seen by boat or by land by following the mile-long Tamiami Trail. This trail is basic, bordering on primitive, with limited parking. Boats are allowed in the refuge, thus letting guests see the wildlife and experience nature first-hand. Both fishing and hunting are allowed in the park.
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 18
Participate in Dolphin Eco-tours
The Dolphin Explorer is a company that offers unique dolphin eco-tours. The Dolphin Explorer is also the name of the company’s boat, a 30-foot catamaran that can carry up to 28 guests in it. The Dolphin Explorer provides free drinks, shelling bags, and a lot more items. Their crew includes a professional wildlife photographer, a Master Naturalist and a USCG Master Captain to pilot the boat.
There are two trips available daily; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. While on the tours, guests will have the chance to see various dolphins joining in on the Dolphin Survey. This survey is a study that focuses on the movement, abundance, and behaviour of the bottlenose dolphins in the area.
951 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145,Phone: 239-642-6899
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 19
Relaxing on Tigertail Beach
Tigertail Beach is one of the two public beaches on Marco Island. Of the two, though, this one is more well-developed and offers a wider range of amenities, as well as preserved natural habitats for shorebirds. This beach is managed by park rangers and several attendants. The park has a large paid parking lot, restrooms, six boardwalks, and a picnic area built with grills for the safety of families with small children. Within the park there is also a playground and a mesmerizing butterfly garden.
There are also a handful of beach rentals in the area, including kayaks, electric boats, stand-up paddleboards, and cabanas. The Tigertail Beach Park also includes a tidal lagoon that splits it from the Sand Dollar Spit. This lagoon also houses crabs, conches, and fish among many others.
490 Hernando Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-389-8414
Things To Do On Marco Island - No 20
Eat at Verdi’s An American Bistro
Marco Island is also a place for gastronomic delights. Verdi’s American Bistro is an intimate restaurant that offers traditional American dishes in a posh atmosphere. Its outside setting is a strip mall, but their menu conquers any hesitation their outside setting may cause. Some of their bestsellers include pan-seared Chilean sea bass glazed with hoisin sauce and partnered with fingerling potatoes and sautéed spinach. Other favourites include pork prime rib, rack of lamb, crispy duck, and apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream. Verdi’s American Bistro is one of the high-end dining places in the island and is perfect for a date night.
241 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145, Phone: 239-394-5533
You may access their menu here:
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