Marco Island Attractions

Most everyone thinking about vacationing on Marco Island knows about the miles of white sand beaches, warm clear gulf water, condos on the beach, beautiful sunsets, and the opportunity for seashelling, parasailing, waverunners, bicycling, walking, and deep sea fishing, as well as the many good restaurants. These Marco Island attractions are known world wide. But there are many more unique attractions to make your vacation memorable. Below are a few of the favorites identified by our guests.

Canals. The canals of Marco Island were conceived in the 1960’s and created mainly in the 1970’s, but not without controversy. They were initially described by some as “ a new canal ridden 2200 acre project that would threaten southwest Florida waters”. Today there are over 90 miles of canals with the majority of homes situated on these canals with access to the gulf and backwaters. Our three vacation rental homes are located on canals, and enjoy the benefits of convenient fishing and boating, and the chance to spy a manatee.

Manatees. Florida manatees are known as the gentle giants and are related to the elephant. They are found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, and estuaries most frequently in brackish or salt water. They prefer waters that are about 3-7 feet deep like the Marco Island canals and surrounding 10,000 Islands area. Manatees are gentle, slow-moving, herbivorous animals. Because they are mammals, they must surface to breathe air on an average of every three to five minutes. The average adult manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds. During your visit to Marco Island you may see them in the canals, on backwater trips or more frequently as manatee shaped mailboxes.

Marco Island Mannatee

Rookery Bay. Just slightly north of the island on Shell Island Road off State Road 951 is the 9,400 acre Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. In the mangroves you will find mullet, snapper, oysters, crabs, snook, pelicans, osprey, bald eagles, deer, bobcats, snakes and tortoises. The Evironmental Learning Center is great for kids on Fridays and is free. You can rent canoes, kayaks or take a guided kayak tour which explores the mangrove bays, creeks and rookeries that make this Reserve a valuable treasure. This is a beginners trip that includes brief paddling instruction. Fee for the tour includes admission that day to the Environmental Learning Center. Tours are offered Wednesdays and Fridays and are limited to 10 participants. Cost is $35.00. Call 239-417-6310, ext 401.

the mangroves

The Backwater. Marco Island is the largest and northernmost island in the Ten Thousand Islands chain of mostly small islands and mangrove islets. The area is a paradise for fishing and boating and a haven for dolphins, osprey, herons and many endangered species like the bald eagle and the manatee. You can experience it on your own through pontoon, canoe, or kayak rentals at places like the Isle of Capri Marina or you can use someone like Captain Cedric (239-537-9255) to lead a narrated boat tour of the Marco backwaters. If you are interested in fishing charters, please visit the Marco Island Fishing page on our website. If you are up to an exciting experience take the top rated tour on the island: Captain Ron’s Waverunner/Jet Ski tour. Tours Depart daily at 9:30am & 1:30pm from Caxambas Park in groups of five waverunners plus one guide. This tour will take you up close to mangrove islands, wildlife, dolphins, manatees, and perhaps a secluded island for shelling.

dolphin jumping

Burrowing Owls. The Florida Burrowing Owl digs burrows and is the only owl species that nests underground. .What makes them unique on Marco Island is that they are vigorously protected. Their burrows are identified by roped off areas wherever they are found. In 2009 there were over 80 protected burrows around the island. The 2006 movie �Hoot� chronicles three middle school children and their fight to save these owls. Keep your eyes open as you bicycle or hike the island.

burrowing owls

The Everglades. Marco Island is known as the Gateway to the Everglades. Tours of the Florida Everglades are available off Highway 41 towards Miami. A number of small Seminole Indian villages offer visitor access. Some have large airboats, shallow-draft scows propelled from the rear by a massive aircraft-type propeller in a mesh cage. These airboats take several passengers at a time for tours to spot alligators and other swamp life. Many guided tours are also available. Find out more by visiting the Everglades National Park website.

the everglades

Beautiful Homes. If you are driving, find time to take a drive around the island and you will see some of the elegant beautiful homes that are Marco Island. A good place to start is the area surrounding Roberts Bay on the south end of the island. Feel free to drive slowly and enjoy the views.

For an extensive list of Marco Island attractions and activities, see the Marco Review or please visit our blog for any new reports on good Marco Island attractions from our guests.