Life isn’t always easy and all of us get bogged down with work, taking care of our families, to-do lists around the house, and dealing with our own personal struggles. Adulting is not easy and sometimes you just need a break. My friends and I were feeling that way and needed to get away and decided upon a trip to Marco Island.
Marco Island is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off southwest Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected to the mainland by bridges south of Naples. It is about an hour away from Fort Myers Airport, which is where we landed. Before I share about my thoughts, experience, and advice, you should know we went mid July. The reason this is important is because Marco Island’s rainy season is June, July, and August. So if you go during those months, be sure to bring an umbrella or raincoat. Ok, so according to the locals, it very rarely rains all day. While we were there, it stormed around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and skies were clear by 5ish.
The two main hotels that most tourists stayed at were the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa or JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. My friends, who are teachers, decided to go the AirBnb route. There are numerous options for you, but we chose this waterfront retreat. It included a pool and had private balcony views of the Gulf of Mexico, all with the comforts of home. She provided everything we needed, including beach chairs and towels.
Our rental was located by Caxambas Pass Park, less than a minute walk from our unit. That is probably your best location for sunrise. If you get up early, you may even see dolphins and manatees! My favorite!!! I never saw manatees during our stay, but one morning my friends and I sat on the pier, with our feet dangling and we did see dolphins up close and personal. It was awesome! We tried scheduling a dolphin tour but there weren’t any available times so it was great that we were able to see them right where we were staying.
Most people come to Marco Island to rest and relax. There’s plenty of ways to do just that. Do any of the many water-related activities, like jet skiing and fishing or head to the beach. Because our balcony faced Caxambas Pass Park’s parking lot, we saw many boats and jet skis leave from the public water access point. Although we didn’t charter any boat for fishing, there are lots of options. Most of the charters, tours, and jet ski tours go out of Caxambas Pass Park and Marina.
If that’s not what you’re interested in, then head to the beach. We had gone to South Marco Beach and Tigertail Beach. The Airbnb that we stayed at is probably a 15 minute walk to South Marco Beach and although that’s not really far, if it’s hot, it can be quite a slog. Luckily, we had rented a Jeep so we just drove 2 minutes and parked at the parking lot.
If you are going to South Marco Beach, there are two parking lots. The best parking lot is on Swallow Ave. It is a short walk across S. Collier Blvd. to the beach. The lot fills up very quickly, especially on Friday and the weekends so be sure to get there early. Otherwise, you can go to Turtle Lot for parking. From there, it is a walk, but doable, to the beach through the public access at Crystal Shores. If you aren’t carrying much, then it’s not bad. Unlike us, we had a cart with 3 beach chairs and carried our beach bags, cooler, and a canopy. So the lot on Swallow Ave was more favorable. This beach is the beach that you’d have access to if you were staying at the Hilton or the JW Marriott. I think South Marco Beach has beautiful white sand and the water is warm and clear. After going in the water, walk the coastline for shells. South Marco Beach is also by far the best spot for viewing the sunset.
The running joke amongst my friends is that I’m not allowed to pick beaches because during our stay, I had decided upon Tigertail Beach. This beach is less crowded than South Marco Beach if that’s what you prefer. However, just be warned, that it is quite a hike to the actual beach area. There are two ways to get to the beach. After parking and walking through the access part, you walk out to what you think is the beach. It is smelly and the sand is somewhat muddy. That is not the beach!! Yes, you can stay there if you want. It is more shallow. Some people stayed to go shelling and fishing there. We were told if you go to the right, you can get to the beach area by hiking across the lagoon and following the path around to the actual beach. When the lagoon is at high tide, trekking across with beach chairs, canopy, bags, and a cooler is out the question. The other option is to take a left and just follow that roundabout path to the beach. No need to exercise while on vacation!! The walk to the beach with all we brought was the workout.
I think Tigertail Beach is nice, but I feel the water is a bit cloudier and more shells and pieces than sand even as you go out into the Gulf. Also, the day that we went, the water was not as calm as when we were at South Marco Beach. In my opinion, the public access by the Marriott to South Marco Beach is just as good and far less difficult and tiring to get to.
By the way, parking costs $8. When we there I was told that if I purchased the ticket at Tigertail Beach, I had could park using that parking ticket at the Swallow Ave lot to view the sunset later on the same day. I’m not sure if this is accurate or not so just find out before you go, but my car wasn’t towed or ticketed.
So typically in my posts, I have a list of places for you to go to eat. Since we stayed at the Airbnb, we went to Publix Supermarket and bought a bunch of food and drinks to make breakfast and lunch.
The only recommendation I can give you is that you must try Doreen’s Cup of Joe, especially for your breakfast meal. It is a very cute restaurant with a Southern feel. The service and food is impeccable. I had the Mexican skillet with mimosas. It was well portioned and originally I was going to order grits with my it. Thank goodness I didn’t. I was so full!
Whatever you choose to do…be sure to be in the moment and enjoy your time in Marco Island. Wishing you all happy and safe travels!!
After landing at Fort Myers Airport, we were starving! Nearby is Miromar Outlets in Estero, Florida. We stopped there because I wanted to try The Llama’s House Bar and Grill. It recently opened and is a Peruvian, Columbian, and South American fusion restaurant. Unfortunately, they had an emergency and couldn’t serve guests till later that evening. So we decided upon Ford’s Garage. It had a nice concept with decor of actual model A Fords and car-themed. Even the servers were dressed like mechanics. I had the salsa verde and crispy pork tater tots. It was savory and delish after flying.
My friends live in Tampa and we drove the nearly three hour drive to see them. We stopped at American Social for brunch, based on my friends’ recommendation. If you are in Tampa on a Saturday, stop here. They offer bottomless mimosas from 11-2 with purchase of an entree. I had the brunch chicken BLAT. It was delish and perfect to soak up all the bottomless mimosas that kept coming.