Marco Island is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, just off of Naples in Southwest Florida. Miles of sandy beach covers most of the west coast, with resort hotels in the south. We first visited last summer, and instantly fell in love. Today, I am sharing our top 4 things you have to do on Marco Island!
Basically, it’s all about long walks on the beach, finding some beach treasures, and finding a good marg ????
Tigertail Lagoon + Sand Dollar Spit
Tigertail was part of the reason I was drawn to Marco Island in the first place. I had seen photos, and it just looked unreal. Guys, photos do NOT do the beauty of this spot justice.
You will park at Tigertail Beach Park – there are bathrooms, foot showers, a playground, picnic tables, and an observation deck. There used to be an amazing paddleboard and kayak rental here, but they are no longer in business. You have the option to wade across the lagoon (or bring your own kayak/paddleboard), or make the walk around the lagoon.
Prepare yourself for a walk. I believe it is a bit over 6 miles to the tip of Sand Dollar Spit and back, but it is worth it!
This is one of Florida’s top bird watching location, as well as home to one of Florida’s top sea turtle nesting spots! There are also SO many shells! We always find dozens and dozens of sand dollars when we make this walk. Plan on a few hours here, but you could also plan and spend the whole day here (you will need an umbrella/some kind of shade and LOTS of water!)
Again, when we first told friends we were visiting Marco last year, Snook Inn was on the top of everyone’s list! And again, it did NOT disappoint!
My favorite here are the oysters (soooo fresh and soooo good), but you really can’t go wrong with the menu! The coconut shrimp also makes an awesome appetizer to share – yum!
The location is AMAZING. It’s right on the Marco River, at the mouth of all the intercoastal waterways. You can sit on the huge patio, and watch boats, pelicans, and even dolphins! I love the laid-back, casual vibe of Snook Inn, and they have an an amazing live band each time we have visited.
Before you leave, you’ll want to stop in their little shop and pick up a bottle of their Barnacle Blaster Hot Sauce – you’re welcome!!
Ok, so there isn’t really an island called “Shell Island”, but there are A LOT of islands in Florida’s 10K Islands who boast that nickname. Everyone’s favorite, however, is Keewaydin. Keewaydin is ONLY accessible by boat, but it is worth it!
We rented our little speed boat for the day from Dolphin Cove Marina (again, this was recommended to us). Dolphin Cove was super helpful, set us up the same day for a boat rental, and set us up with a map to Keewaydin.
We navigated through the intercoastal waterways, and saw dolphins throughout the mangrove forests. Such a cool experience.
Upon arriving at Keewaydin, we just beached the boat and dropped anchor in the sand. There were about 20 other boats, and it did not feel crowded at all. I will add, we were there during the off-season, and on a Tuesday. We arrived right around low tide, and it was so cool to walk our super far into the water… but only in ankle deep water. We found SO many treasures here, like an alphabet cone, a few lightening whelks, and some sand dollars (although if you’re hunting for sand dollars, head to Sand Dollar Spit for an almost-guaranteed find!)
It felt like a good mix of local residents and tourists in rented boats (easy to spot with the big RENTAL signs on the sides ????), and we were excited to see a Tikki Bar Boat and In The Pink, an ice cream pontoon boat!
The JW Marriott
The first time we stayed on Marco Island, we stayed at the Hilton, and loved it. We had heard so many great things about the JW Marriott, so we decided to give it a go. We stayed in the Sirene Tower (the property’s 21+ space, with a private beach and pool!). The property was gorgeous, and we were delighted to see the fun arcade!
First off: the golden margarita is a must. This gem is available at every bar on the property!
Korrals is the property’s sushi restaurant and bar, located just off the lobby. We found the menu to be a little limited, but VERY good. Ario is another amazing dinner spot – I would consider this for a more formal dinner.
Quinn’s is the outdoor restaurant/bar. This was our go-to lunch spot. Quinn’s is nestled between the pool and beach. In the evening, you can enjoy the Fire Dancer Show with the best view here!
(Worth noting: the fire shows are not currently happening, the spa has very limited hours, and restaurant hours may vary, due to COVID19)
The JW Marriott sits on a long stretch, which makes for a prime sunset spot!
Have you visited Marco Island? I would LOVE to hear if you’ve hit any of the attractions on our top 4 list. And be sure to check out this post from our first trip to Marco Island, when we stayed at the Hilton.