Top Things to See and Do at Tigertail Beach

Tigertail Beach offers a treasure trove of activities at this bountiful beach, including tidal pools, shelling, birding, wildlife spotting and kayaking.

A couple holds hands at Tigertail Beach at sunset

Florida’s Paradise Coast is home to many beautiful beaches, along with endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. But there’s one public beach park that’s a must-see when it comes to explorative beaches on Marco Island -- Tigertail Beach on Marco Island.

Years ago, Tigertail was actually disconnected from the mainland, simply an offshore sand bar. When Hurricane Wilma swept across the island in 2005, the wind speeds were so strong that sand piled up, creating Sand Dollar Island and Tigertail Beach. It extends on a curve into the Gulf of Mexico, with a saltwater lagoon on one side.

Today, this white-sand beach boasts tons of fun activities and exploration. If you’ve been dreaming of the ideal Marco Island outdoor adventure, consider exploring Tigertail Beach. It’s a unique spot full of bird watching, shelling, tidal pool exploration, and incredible sunsets.

Tigertail Beach: a Tale of Two Beaches

Tigertail Beach has two separate areas with different amenities and personalities to suit your tastes. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or exploration, this beach is your day-away oasis.

On one end, you have a developed beach with amenities – a snack bar, beach umbrellas, a playground for kids, and a patio overlooking a saltwater lagoon. You can rent kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and other beach equipment here. With full amenities, this makes a great family beach day full of adventure.

Head across the lagoon and you’ll encounter a different type of Tigertail. This part of the beach is wild, untamed, and unbelievably beautiful. You’ll find three miles of white sand beaches, shells waiting to be discovered, offshore wildlife splashing around, and endless birds to watch – not surprising given that it’s part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Less developed than its counterpart, you’ll find endless wildlife and nature to explore.

Aerial view of Tigertail Beach

Shelling at Tigertail Beach

Finding seashells on the beach is one of the most gratifying things to do on a beachside vacation. It’s fun for both adults and kids alike and can teach you about the area’s marine life. Fortunately, Tigertail Beach is full of seashells, waiting to be discovered. The top ten seashells found in Marco Island area are Atlantic Calico Scallop, Florida Fighting Conch, Lightning Whelk, Horse Conch, Common American Auger, Sunray Venus, Alphabet Cone, Atlantic Fig Snail, Banded Tulip, and Lettered Olive. You might even come across the Scaphella Junonia shell, very uncommon and known as a prize on the island.

If you’re headed to Tigertail to shell hunt, the best time is about an hour before or after low tide. High tide will bring in those beautiful shells, and as the tide recedes, you’ll be able to see the little gifts the Gulf left behind.

Explore Tidal Pools

While you’re out and about shell hunting, peek into some of the clear tidal pools that surround the white sand beaches. You’ll see they’re full of sea stars, sand dollars and other little sea creatures. Tidal pools are perfect for shelling at low tide and provide a variety of wildlife learning and exploration for adults and kids alike.

Birding and Wildlife on Tigertail Beach

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission lists Tigertail Beach as one of the best birding sites in Southwest Florida, so you know this is a birdwatcher’s paradise! There’s a wide variety of species you might encounter, including osprey, pelicans, bald eagles, falcons, osprey, spoonbills, and red knots. Adjacent to the park is Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife Area, home to a variety of migratory shorebirds, including black skimmers, snowy plovers and least terns. Grab the binoculars and get ready to spot these feathered friends on your adventure!

Birds aren’t the only wildlife you’ll glimpse on Tigertail Beach. Cross the lagoon and walk the beach to spot horseshoe crabs and turtles dotting the area. Gaze off the coast and you might see a dolphin or two splashing in the waves, or a manatee cruising the shoreline. Turn your sights inland and you’ll discover that wherever your eyes take you, there’s some form of Marco Island wildlife.

Aerial view of Tigertail Beach

Kayak and Sightsee

Get out of the sand and onto the water. Kayaking and paddleboarding are some of the best ways to see the sights in and around Tigertail Beach. With rentals on-site, you can easily explore in and around Tigertail Beach Park.

Kayaking is great for families who want to experience the nature and wildlife offshore. Most kayak rentals are designed to fit up to two adults and 2 children, making this a fun and safe group activity on the water. Paddleboards are wonderful for the smooth waters of the protected lagoon and fit one person each, making it a perfect explorative trip for individuals, couples, and small groups of friends.

Getting to Tigertail Beach

Tigertail Beach hours are 8am-sundown.

There is no sign for the turn off the main road. From North Collier Boulevard/State Highway 951, go north on Kendall Drive. This will take you through a residential neighborhood. Turn left at Hernando Drive, where there is a sign directing you to Tigertail Beach. Hernando leads to a dead-end into the park.

Parking: There are 210 parking spaces including eight hourly parking spaces.

Fees: There’s a $10 beach parking fee.

Whether you’re visiting for a few hours or the whole day, there are plenty of reasons to stay, and plenty to keep you busy at Tigertail Beach.