Marco Island is located about 30 minutes south of Naples by car. It is the southernmost island on the southwest coast of Florida that has beaches accessible by car. Marco Island is very overdeveloped. It was once covered with mangroves and Indian middens, but most of the mangroves were bulldozed, finger canals were carved into the coast so everyone could have a boat dock, and the land was filled in so homes and condos could be built. So here it is, out in the middle of nowhere, a retirement/vacation paradise with all the comforts of any small city.
Much of the development on Marco is relatively recent, so everything is new. There are no "bad neighborhoods" on Marco. The landscaping is beautiful, with coconut palms and tropical foliage and flowers everywhere. The beaches are beautiful.
On Marco Island there are a lot of condominiums and luxury resorts on the beach. Marco is upscale all the way and caters to the well-to-do. But you can still get a good rate on a beachfront hotel, especially in the off season. Don't look for a Motel 6.
Why Choose Marco Island?
- There are quite a few reasons why you might pick Marco Island as a vacation destination. Here are a few:
- You are visiting during the winter months and you want the warmest weather possible without going to the Keys or to Miami.
- You want to be near the Everglades nature attractions.
- You want calm shallow warm water to swim in, a great beach, and a great selection of upscale resorts and condominiums.
- You want something different. Something upscale but not overrun with shopping centers and bars.
- You don't really want nightlife.
- You want to see this part of Florida before it is completely overrun by development.
Did you find a reason that fits you in that list?
Marco Island Beaches
Marco has great beaches. But most of them are regularly raked and tilled by tractors and beach equipment. This is done to keep the seaweed from piling up (some people don't like seaweed) and to keep the sand and shell from forming a hard crust. Marco's beaches are renourished, which means that sand and shell is pumped in from offshore to make the beach wider. This kind of beach will get too hard-packed if not properly maintained. The raking also helps keep the insect (no-see-um) populations down.
Marco's beaches are relatively flat, creating a gentle slope into the shallow water that is great for kids and the mobility challenged. And, being so far south, the water stays fairly warm all year, though January through March can seem a bit nippy to us Florida residents.
If you're not staying on the beach and your accommodations don't provide an easement to the beach, you'll need to use one of the two public access points. South Marco Beach is the easiest to get to, but Tigertail Beach on the northern part of Marco is more of a true park. Both have a fee for parking.
The attraction to Tigertail Beach is Sand Dollar Island, which is a somewhat remote beach that is excellent for long walks and for shelling. It is quite a hike to get to it from the parking area though. The only other good option at Tigertail is to swim in the shallow, muddy lagoon, which some people do. You can also walk straight across the lagoon to take somewhat of a short-cut to Sand Dollar Island. Tigertail Park has excellent shelling.
Tigertail is a full-service beach with a small restaurant, restrooms and beach equipment rentals.