What at first glimpse might seem a high-rise resort beach stop, Marco Island, just south of Naples? Indeed widely varies its expiations to vacationers. It stands out in two modes that expand its demand beyond the beach: history and water games. Its history begins back to ancient times when it worked as a capital for the Calusa culture. In 1896, archaeologist Frank Hamilton Cushing got an earth-shaking discovery of unique artifacts from the tribe. Marco Island’s other character has to do with its wet surround of Gulf of Mexico, Rookery Bay, Marco River, and the vast, wilderness region identified as Ten Thousand Islands. Fishing, boating, kayaking, and other water games define Marco Island and its life of high-seas adventure.
Get to know the best things to do in Marco Island
Marco Mystery & History Tours
Marco Mystery & History, as the title shows, combines parts of Marco Island history and ghost tales for a spooked two-hour trolley trip with Martha Horror, an actress and your own guide. Stops include a 340-year-old Indian funeral mound, haunted inn, and cemetery. Tours continue from October through March; private trips are possible year-round upon demand. On the way, hear stories of the curse of Capt. William D. Collier, the Key Marco overhanging tree, hostile native societies, mysterious disappearances, lawlessness, and murders, which remain unsolved to this day. The ticket price covers a complimentary pre-tour cocktail at the Olde Marco Inn.
Otter Mound Preserve
Shell hills such as this once pimpled Southwest Florida scene, especially on Marco Island, which was a main headquarters for the old Calusa tribe. This Calusa unknown archaeological site and its small interpretative way along a mulched pathway tell the tale of the native Indians who once occupied this area. The land’s later master, Ernest Otter, managed the hundreds of whelk shells they left behind – proof of their shellfish-rich food – to line plots around the property in the 1940s and past. An excess of the old whelks still lies spread alongside the way and shore up the ancient mound.
Marco Island Princess
Beautifully equipped, the 90-foot Marco Island Princess cruises daily for tour, lunch, dinner and evening cruises into the Gulf of Mexico. Related sightseeing and luncheon sails point out the area’s native and historical assets. Dolphins, sea turtles, birds, and manatees usually entertain. Meals are cooked fresh on board and are served buffet form. Dining cruises hold Nature & History Lunch Cruise, Admiral’s Sunset Dinner Cruise, and Captain’s Sunset Dinner Cruise. The ship contains two full cash bars: experience open air or climate-controlled sailing.
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South Marco Beach
Public beach entrance is limited on Marco Island. This one, at the southernmost edge of the island, is accessible to get to and find, although there is a little walk from the parking lot. Marco Island owns a soft sugar-sand brand of the beach, spacious and usually teeming with activity – volleyball, parasailing, jet-skiing, paddle-boarding. Check high-rises line most of the shoreline. Natural vegetation grows between extension and the sand. The only amenities are restrooms in the parking lot, but there is also a restaurant next to the entrance where you can use the bathrooms if you’re dining.
Part sightseeing tour, Part citizen-science research boat, the Dolphin Explorer welcomes visitors aboard as a way to maintain its 10,000 Islands Survey Team Dolphin Project. If there’s a trip where you’re going to view dolphins, this is it, because the researchers understand the populations by name – and size and the indicating on their fins and tails. The giant raft boat looks the estuaries and waters in the bays around Marco Island. The researchers on board take pictures of each one they find, with the help of riders. Anyone who sees a new dolphin gets to label it. On the way, tourists hear schoolings on dolphins and other sea animals from an onboard zoologist. The tour includes a shelling stop on an island and free family and group photos.