If you’re constantly on the lookout for the perfect Florida beach getaway (hi hello like me), then I’ve got a new one for you…Marco Island!
Recently over spring break, I headed down south to a new-to-me part of Florida (as far south as I’ve get to go!).
Just south of Naples on the Gulf Coast (the southwest part of Florida), Marco Island is known for its laidback vibe, beautiful beaches, excellent shelling, and close proximity to the Everglades.
To get to Marco Island, you’ll most likely fly into Fort Myers, rent a car, and make the hour or so drive south. Read this post to get caught up on where to stay on Marco Island.
And now…here are 17 things to do on Marco Island plus a little restaurant roundup:
Things to Do on Marco Island, Florida
Go shelling: Though not as well known as Sanibel Island to the north, Marco is pretty famous for its shelling. Sand dollars aren’t uncommon. I found over 30 small conch shells on a walk one morning and it’s easy to spend hours beach combing. Pack flip flops to walk near the water as the beaches are usually filled with shells and broken fragments. And remember…the early bird finds the sand dollars!
Take an eco tour: This is probably the most popular thing to do on Marco. Dozens of companies run boat tours through the 10,000 islands to spot dolphins and manatees and many make stops at uninhabited islands for world class shelling. Marco Island Water Sports runs tours on the Calusa Spirit which leaves from the JW Marriot.
Tigertail Beach & Sand Dollar Spit: This is the most popular beach on Marco, because it’s beautiful and it has great amenities. There’s plenty of public parking, a cute café, and it’s the perfect place to kayak and paddleboard. If you wade across the inlet (or paddle!), you’ll be on Sand Dollar Spit, which…you guessed it…is a great place to find sand dollars.
Visit Old Marco Island: This tiny fishing village is home to several cute shops and yummy restaurants and it’s just picture perfect!
Airboat tour of the Everglades: The Everglades are super close to Marco Island so it’s a popular daytrip (or half a day really). We went with Jungle Erv’s instead of one of the outfits out of Everglade City. While they run boats every 20 minutes or so, we never saw another boat. Our captain told us that the first tour of the day sees the most wildlife (birds and other critters) as they start to clear out once the boats start coming through. We did see an alligator though!
Kayak the Everglades: As a quieter and more natural alternate, consider kayaking through the Everglades. Everglades Area Tours runs boat assisted tours so you’ll ride in on a boat and then start kayaking when you get to the good stuff.
Bicycle through the Everglades: And if that’s not enough Everglades for you, consider a guided bike tour. Book with Naples Bicycle Tours.
Take a day trip to Naples: The Naples Zoo and Botanic Gardens are great if you’re looking for non-beach activities.
Go out on the Dolphin research boat: If you’re serious about seeing dolphins and learning more about them, the Dolphin Explorer is the trip for you. You’ll learn all about the Dolphin Project and rumor is if you encounter an unrecorded dolphin, they’ll let the youngest person on the boat name it.
Eat stone crab claws: Stone crab claws are the must try food in this area of Florida and you’ll see them on the menu at a lot of places. Head to City Seafood in Everglade City for some of the best seafood you’ll find in Florida. It’s right on the water and you can sit in the open-air restaurant and watch all the airboats head in and out.
Black Pearl Pirate Boat: For a unique experience, set sail on the Black Pearl for an hour-long interactive pirate experience. This is great for families and they do sunset cruises too!
Standup Paddleboarding: Test out new skills and take a paddleboard out for a spin. I suggest renting one at Tigertail Beach, as it’s a calm and protected place for beginners.
Take a deep sea fishing trip: Book a full day fishing trip with Six Chuter Charters and bring in all the grouper and snapper your can manage. Most places will let you take your catch with you to cook up. There are plenty of restaurants on the island that will cook it for you! Try Capri Fish House, Cocomo’s, Crazy Flamingo, Little Bar, Mango’s Dockside Bistro, The Snook Inn, and the Speak Easy.
Take a day trip to Keewaydin Island: This uninhabited barrier island near Marco is a popular spot for boaters and those seeking a bit of seclusion. Hemingway’s Water Shuttle ferries visitors over and will even provide you with chair and umbrella rentals.
Where to Eat on Marco Island
For breakfast: Hoot’s, Empire Bagel Factory, and Wake Up Marco
For lunch: Tigertail Café, Quinn’s on the Beach, Mango’s Dockside Bistro
For happy hour: Capri Fish House, Cocomo’s, Crazy Flamingo, The Oyster Society, The Speak Easy, Sunset Grille
For a casual dinner: Leee Fish Inc., Sami’s Pizza and Grill, Quinn’s on the Beach, Snook Inn
For a nice dinner: Café de Marco, Davinci’s, Marco’s Prime Steak and Seafood, Fin Bistro, Sale e Pepe