Luxe Resort Areas with Great Public Beaches
Guests of Vanderbilt Beach Resort, LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Naples call Vanderbilt Beach their backyard, but you don't have to be a resort guest to enjoy this popular spot.
Vanderbilt Beach is open to the public and offers direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, white sands wispy with sea oats, abundant shells and birding. More than a pretty view, this stretch of beach is rich with amenities including concessions, restrooms and showers, a parking garage and handicap access. The resort area is conveniently located near the shops and restaurants of north Naples.
Marco Island's four-mile shoreline welcomes guests of the Marco Beach Ocean Resort and JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. The coastline is book-ended by the public accesses of Tigertail Beach Park and South Beach. Both beaches juxtapose natural with manmade – Tigertail's untouched dunes and lagoon contrast South Beach’s palm-lined walkway and skyward architecture.
Family Beach Days
On Marco Island, Tigertail Beach Park rates highly with families for providing nice-to-have amenities in nature. A playground, sand volleyball court and picnic area with grills help stage the quintessential family beach day. Other essentials include concessions for beach equipment and refreshments, parking, showers, restrooms and handicap access. Many enjoy the lagoon area with nearby playground and concessions. Others rent paddleboards to shuttle belongings and youngsters across the shallow lagoon to the long stretch of quiet, barrier island beach - one of the best shelling beaches in Southwest Florida.
Amenities are everything during a family beach day, and Naples Municipal Beach delivers with parking aplenty at a metered lot on 12th Avenue South, picnic tables and showers. Its residential surroundings give it a low-key feel, and its landmark pier is a classic beach attraction. Besides holding nostalgia for being the site of many family gatherings, the Naples Pier also has a solid place in local history – the dock dates back to 1888 and was originally used for freight and ship passengers. Today, the pier features a concession stand, parking access and restrooms and invites fishing 24 hours a day (no fishing license required).
Tigertail Beach Park’s amenities improve on its natural assets: a butterfly garden, tidal lagoon, picturesque dunes, a birding tower and boardwalks that grant glimpses of numerous bird species. The beach is a site on the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail, as is Naples' Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in north Naples. An observation tower, boardwalks and boat ramps greet guests at this barrier island escape, along with a natural hard-bottom reef that provides some great snorkeling and fishing just off the beach. When parking lots are full at this popular beach park, additional parking is available at nearby Conner Park on Bluebill Avenue.
At Clam Pass Beach Park located adjacent to Naples Grande Beach Resort, you can view the mangroves up close from the boardwalk over the Clam Pass estuary (a tram also runs the three-quarter-mile stretch to the dune-dotted beach).
North of Naples, Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park calls to naturalists. Explore on your own or inquire about ranger-led programs to learn about the barrier island's flora and fauna, from the gumbo-limbo tree to the gopher tortoise.
Excursions for the Island Adventurer
Take your love of nature further by cruising to Keewaydin Island as part of the Ten Thousand Islands Dolphin Project. A naturalist will guide you along Keewaydin's beach, accessible only by boat, halfway through your fascinating dolphin research cruise aboard the 30-foot Dolphin Explorer. During the cruise researchers will engage you in identifying and tracking bottlenose dolphin that reside in area waters.
For additional dolphin and wildlife sightings, take the Marco Island Ski & Watersports-guided WaveRunner tour, departing from the beach in front of the JW Marriott Marco Island.
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