Things to Do in Marco Island, Florida

Get to know the tropical resort paradise of Marco Island, located just south of Naples.

A woman with a paddle board stands on the beach looking out at the ocean.

Marco Island, the largest of the Ten Thousand Islands, is located at southern tip of Florida's Paradise Coast. A beachfront paradise located north of the Gulf Coast entrance to Everglades National Park and 15 miles south of Naples, the island is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and pristine mangrove estuaries on the other. 

Marco Island is home to some of the world's most beautiful beaches and offers world-class golf courses nearby, shopping and dining on Marco Island and in nearby Naples, the world famous Everglades National Park adjacent, and immediate access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the mangrove-lined estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands for shelling, fishing, boating, bird and wildlife watching, kayaking and canoeing.


The natural environment in and around Marco Island provides the perfect backdrop for both relaxing and adventurous activities.

Marco Island's beach and surrounding sand bars offer some of the best shelling in the world. A stroll along Marco Island beaches will reward the shell seeker with a wide variety of shells including whelks, olive shells, scallops and hundreds of other varieties. A number of island tour operators provide short trips by boat to deserted sand bars and beach islands that are covered in shells and free from crowds, providing a relaxed atmosphere to search for these treasures.

Aerial shot of a waterway winding through a wetland with a small white airboat traveling the path.

The vast wilderness of Ten Thousand Islands can be explored many ways. 

The Ten Thousand Islands stretch endlessly from Marco Island's southern edge, winding past Everglades City and Chokoloskee all the way down to Flamingo at the southern tip of Florida's mainland. A large percentage of the Ten Thousand Islands is located within the boundaries of either the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge or Everglades National Park, providing a haven for numerous rare and endangered animal and bird species.

Bird watchers and adventurers can easily access this water wonderland from Marco Island. Kayaks are readily available for rent, with both short and extended tour routes available. Water sports operators provide guided Waverunner tours through nearby mangrove islands with information on the mangrove estuary and its inhabitants, including bottlenose dolphins, manatees, sea otters, alligators, crocodiles, wood storks, brown and white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets and more.

The local residents include dolphins, manatees, sea otters, wood storks, white pelicans and more.

Marco Island is flanked by nearly 100 miles of islands, bays and estuaries that will never be developed. Access to this nearby wilderness is possible through the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Collier-Seminole State Park, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Big Cypress Preserve National Park and Everglades National Park. These park units provide a paradise for nature photographers, anglers and outdoor adventurers.


Backcountry fishing is very popular around Marco Island and fishing enthusiasts reel in plenty of snook, tarpon, redfish, trout, pompano and many other species. Experienced guides are readily available for fishing excursions from Marco Island, Chokoloskee, Everglades City, Goodland and other nearby areas and include backcountry flats fishing and offshore charters into the Gulf of Mexico for grouper, kingfish and snapper.


Marco Island and the Naples area offer great golf with several courses located nearby including JW Marriott's The Rookery at Marco - the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort's newly redesigned course that also features the Faldo Golf Institute instruction program. There are many nearby courses in Naples easily accessible to Marco Island.


Marco Island is well known in archaeological circles as an important center of early American civilization, based on priceless artifacts recovered there dating back to the Calusa Indians.

An exhibit of the Calusa Indians is shown.

The Calusa Indians were the area's original inhabitants.

A dozen key historic markers across the island chart Marco Island history, including one the most historically significant archeological excavations in North America. At this site, archeologists have unearthed ancient artifacts including the priceless Key Marco Cat sculpture, now on a special extended visit in partnership with the Smithsonian at Marco Island Historical Museum. Other historic markers placed around the island identify ancient burial mounds, island marinas, an 1883 historic inn, remnants of the Caxambas Clam Colony, the remains of the Marco Island Witch Watchtower and more. 


Marco Island offers many shopping treasures. Specialty shops and resort boutiques offer everything from swimwear and resort casual selections to the finest designer fashions and art work. Shopping goes beyond beach wear, with stores that offer artistic items of local flavor and interesting souvenirs.

Shop artsy boutiques, designer outlets and more.

The Marco Island Center for the Arts has a free gallery that includes a gift shop selling locally produced art pieces. Naples is just a short drive away with many shopping destinations including the downtown Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South shopping districts, along with Tin City, the Village on Venetian Bay, Coastland Center Mall, and Waterside Shops, with its many luxury stores.


Indulge in authentic tastes of Italy with gourmet flair to Sale E Pepe at Marco Beach Ocean Resort with spectacular Gulf of Mexico views. Popular area restaurants such as Fin BistroSnook Inn and Cafe de Marco specialize in fresh Gulf seafood.

A plate of raw oysters sits on a table in front of a short cocktail glass.

Oysters are one of many seafood favorites you'll find on the Paradise Coast. 

For laid-back waterfront ambiance, Stan's Idle Hour Seafood Restaurant in the village of Goodland offers fresh seafood daily and unique entertainment every Sunday afternoon. From 1-6 pm, enjoy the long standing tradition known as the Sunday Party including live music, a fashion show from the Island Woman boutique and a casual menu including seafood sandwiches. Nearby, the Little Bar Restaurant in Goodland serves up fresh Florida seafood and steaks along with great live music in the lounge.


Marco Island's accommodations range from luxurious waterfront resorts to villa resorts, small motels and a historic inn, as well as private condominiums and elegant homes available for short and long term vacation rental.

The luxurious Marco Beach Ocean Resort offers one and two-bedroom suites, a spa and rooftop swimming pool overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Amenities at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort include a Balinese-themed spa.

The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is a destination in itself, with 810 rooms and extensive resort activities, children's programs and facilities. This resort has just emerged from a $230 million renovation including the new Lanai Tower, a spectacular Balinese-themed spa, a new pool, new meeting facilities and room enhancements.

The Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa is a Four Star, Four Diamond, newly renovated resort with several excellent dining options and a new spa.

The Olde Marco Island Inn & Suites, dating back to 1883, is a historic retreat that is regarded as one of the most romantic in Southwest Florida. The original Inn, located on a former Calusa Indian shell mound, now houses the reception area and restaurant, with both indoor and courtyard garden seating. The Inn features 51 one and two bedroom, two bath suites decorated with a tropical flair, within walking distance of shops and some of the island's favorite restaurants and waterfront bars.

The Boat House Motel offers old-Florida ambiance and slips for your boat with direct Gulf of Mexico access.

Marco Island Lakeside Inn, a Superior Small Lodging, features a cozy lakefront atmosphere close to shopping, dining and the beaches.

In addition, hundreds of private condominiums and beautiful homes located from the Gulf beaches to the canal-lined neighborhoods of Marco Island offer a variety of choices for vacationers. These accommodations offer visitors amenities such as dining and family rooms, kitchens, washers and dryers, private balconies with spectacular views and all the comforts of home.


Getting to Marco Island is easy. From I-75, take Exit 101 and head south on Collier Boulevard for 20 miles to Marco Island.

The Marco Island Executive Airport offers private jet service and charter flights to and from nearby international. Southwest Florida International Airport is located 45 minutes north in Fort Myers. Marco Island can be reached from Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach via I-75, also known as Alligator Alley; or from Miami via U.S. Highway 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail, designated as a U.S. Scenic Byway and a Florida Scenic Highway. Marco Island is convenient to Naples, with a wealth of shopping, dining and cultural opportunities, as well as Everglades National Park, Everglades City and a number of state and federal nature preserves and parks nearby.