Marco Island is a little slice of paradise nestled on the SW Florida coastline, just off of Naples. We visited for the first time a few years ago, and fell in love with the slow island pace of life, the gorgeous white beaches, and the shelling! We’ve shared few travel guides for how to get to Marco Island and where to stay once you get there. Today, I am excited to share 10 Things To Do on Marco Island!
10 Things To Do on Marco Island
You can watch this Reels video from Instagram, for a peek at each of the 10 things to do on Marco Island. And keep reading for more details and info!
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Walk Tigertail Beach
First up, Tigertail is a MUST. This was the reason Dave and I went to Marco Island in the first place. Imagine the whitest sand you’ve ever seen, on just the most vast stretch of beach ever – it will take our breath away!
You can wade across the lagoon here, but I do not recommend it. Dave and I have kayaked across it, but we have also made the walk around the lagoon several times. On this most recent trip to Marco Island, Dave and I walked from our hotel to the tip of Tigertail! We got an early start (around 8:45am) to beat the heat, and the walk was 6.5 miles, but the views are amazing. We found so many amazing shells, saw lots of sea turtle nests, and so many cool seabirds!
Pro tip: You will want to pack sunscreen, water, and a towel. Everything you take, you carry. Think of it as a beach hike. For the first half mile, you’ll see lots of people with umbrellas all set up. Keep walking. You’ll have to go up in the mangrove forest to hike around a little point, and you’ll have to “off road” in some knee-deep water, but once you get around that, the beach is almost always empty. This is where the good shells and all the cool animals are!
Spend an afternoon on Keewaydin Island
Keewaydin is a barrier island in the intracoastal (the waterway that isn’t the Gulf, but it’s between the coastline of FL and Marco and the rest of the 10,000 Islands. This island is only accessible by the water, so you’ll need a boat or jet-ski to get there. You literally beach your boat on the sand, drop anchor and hang out. It’s like a sand bar party if you’re from the Midwest.. but on an island. You want to get an early start, as it fills up quickly. There’s also a booze pontoon, and a few other Food Boats (that accept cash or credit), so you can get drinks and snacks.
Dave and I spent a few hours just walking around the island. It is small, but you can easily spend all day there! When the tide gets low, you can walk out SO far into the Gulf – it is a very cool experience.
HOWEVER!!!!! Keep an eye on the tide! Your boat can get stuck there if the tide goes out. Pro tip: head back to your boat every hour or so to give it a wiggle and make sure it’s not stuck in the sand.
Look for sand dollars on the sand bars
We also come back from Marco Island with handfuls of sand dollars. It’s funny, the first time we went, I told Dave it was my mission to find a sand dollar 😉 Mission accomplished!
We do typically find the most sand dollars at the very tip of Tigertail Beach, on a stretch known to locals as Sand Dollar Spit. Because of the unique location and shape of Tigertail, it kind of gently collects fragile sand dollars, and safely pushes them to shore.
Sure, you absolutely CAN find them just walking the beach, and we often do. Walking back from Tigertail in July, Dave and I saw 2 or 3 small sand dollars just washing up in the waves. But a sure-fire way to find them is to wait for low tide, and head to the second sand bar. At low tide, the first sand bar will be more of a lagoon, so you’ll want to go a little further. There, it’s just a matter of walking slowly, and looking down. You’ll see them poking out of the sand. Just make sure you know the difference between a living sand dollar and the test left behind when the sand dollar is dead (that is what is safe to collect!)
Grab beach drinks from The Gulf Cart
If you’re staying in the strip with all the hotels, then you’ll likely see The Gulf Cart driving around. This is a golf cart that serves an assortment of snacks and drinks (alcoholic and non) as well as snacks (depending on what hotel you’re at!).
The Gulf Cart also has ice!! Which is good info to have when it’s in the upper 90s by 11am 😉
Have dinner at Snook Inn
You can’t make a list of 10 Things To Do on Marco Island and not include a trip to Snook Inn! Dave and I actually went twice on our last trip to Marco. We also took day trips to Marco and ate at Snook when we stayed in Bonita Springs – it’s THAT good.
My favorites are their margaritas and coconut shrimp. Their Luau Salmon was AMAZING, though.
Snook Inn is great for the atmosphere. You can sit inside or out, and also boat right up to it! I love sitting and watching the boats coming into the bay as the sun is setting. You can read more about why eating at Snook Inn is on of our top 10 Things To Do on Marco Island in this blog post.
Snook is either SUPER busy or completely empty. So keep that in mind. If we go there for lunch, we almost always walk right in and are seated. There was a bit of a wait both times we had dinner there, though!
It does have a cute gift shop and a few games and benches, so the waiting isn’t awful. But it gets HOT in Marco, and there is minimal shade for guests waiting for seats. Personally, if we had the girls with us, we would do early dinners or lunch at Snook Inn, and not even attempt dinner with the sunset!
Watch the sunset (won’t disappoint!)
Speaking of sunsets 😉 Sunsets are just way prettier over the water, aren’t they? Marco is so far south, I feel like the sunsets are just bolder, bigger, and more impactful!
I don’t think there is a bad place to watch the sunset, but I highly recommend watching it from Tigertail. You will literally feel like you’re alone at the end of the Earth. Very cool!
Grab drinks at The Deck at 560
The Deck at 560 making my 10 things to do on Marco Island list may garner a few eye rolls from locals – but hear me out! The Deck at 560 is located in the Hilton. It has beach views, and a super inviting atmosphere. You can walk in dressed up or in a swimsuit and cover-up.
The drinks are great – and probably the strongest on the island. But what Dave and I loved most was the bartenders!
There is something about Hilton hotel staff! They are always above and beyond friendly, and the bartenders at The Deck at 560 were no exception. We knew most by name by the end of our 4 days there, and had great chats about local sites, current events, and more!
I also highly recommend their frozen Miami Vice and their chips and salsa for a light lunch option!
Walk for miles on the white, sandy beaches
I kind of touched on this with the Tigertail Beach hike, but if the 6.5 hike on a desolate bird-filled stretch of beach was a turn off for you, you can always just walk for miles in the other direction! I get it, Tigertail is a commitment!!
There is a strip of hotels on the “beachy” side of the island. And, while Dave and I prefer to avoid the crowds and enjoy the peace of Tigertail, you can walk for miles on the stretch of each that is hotels, and be within a short walk of a bathroom, cold water, and air conditioning 😉
Rent a boat and cruise around the intracoastal (watch for manatee and dolphins!)
We’ve rented a boat twice on Marco Island, and it’s always a fun day! You can just cruise around the intracoastal. It’s gorgeous – so many mangrove-covered islands, sand bars, and the water is clear, deep blue!
There are so many cool birds to watch, and you can also see huge fish, dolphins, manatees, and more! This last trip, Dave and I each saw a manta ray jump out of the water! It was one of the coolest things ever — and of course, I was too slow with the camera!
The boat we rent is a hurricane boat from Dolphin Cove Marina (which is actually right by Snook Inn!) You can also rent jet-skis at a few different locations on the island. We did find that the reservations for jet-skis filled up WAY faster in advance than the boats do. Keep that in mind, when making reservations.
Of course, you could always do the 1 hour jet-ski rentals from the people in front of the hotels… but again, it’s one hour, and they have certain areas you are allowed to go, and areas you aren’t allowed to go, and you’re in a big group. Dave and I much prefer the freedom to do it on our own.
And of course, shelling!
Shelling is at the top of my 10 things to do on Marco Island list!!
It is UNREAL the amount of shells that wash up near Tigertail. I did find a few good shells near the hotels, but it was slim-picking with all the people in and out of the water, and the jet-ski and boat tour vehicles are coming up to shore throughout the day.
Walking toward Tigertail, once we got to where the hotels ended and the condos started, the beach opened up. I started finding a ton of shells, and by the time we were walking back from Tigertail, my shell bag was full, and I had a handful of sand dollars.
There you have it – 10 Things To Do on Marco Island. Have you been to Marco? Have you done any of the things on my list?