Fun Facts About Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Here are some things you might not know about Florida's Paradise Coast.


Fun Facts About Marco Island

  • Marco Island is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands and is the gateway to the Everglades.
  • Marco Island is 6 miles long, by 4 miles wide.
  • There are 100 miles of man-made waterfront canals on Marco Island, and the majority of homes are waterfront locations.
  • Marco Island is linked to the mainland by 2 bridges – one way in and one way out!!
  • Trip Advisor voted it the #1 island in the U.S. and #4 best island in the world in 2014.
  • It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and some of the best seashell collecting too!
  • In the mid 1500’s, Spanish explorers arrived and named the island “La Isla de San Marco.”
  • The island was not developed until, 1870 when Thomas Collier founded the village of Marco.
  • The Olde Marco Inn is still operating on the north end of the island.
  • The true visionaries who built the modern Marco Island as we know it today were the Mackle Brothers – who purchased the island for $7 million.
  • Cape Romano Domes – those alien-looking structures off the coast of Marco Island – once belonged to a retired oilman in the 1980s; he built them for use as his vacation home.
  • The "Key Marco Cat" – on loan from The Smithsonian – was crafted around 500 – 1,500 years ago.
  • Marco Island is home to one of the most important archeological sites in North America, and along with uncovering the Key Marco Cat, there were also Calusa Indian burial mounds and artifacts.
  • Families of Burrowing Owls live among the locals, who keep a close eye on them to ensure their safety and to be sure they always feel welcome on Marco Island.  They are about the size of a beverage can and make their homes in empty lots, highway medians, front yards and strip-mall parking lots. There is a first of its kind safe-harbor program – a partnership between Audubon, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the city to provide incentives to homeowners who welcome these little urban raptors.
  • Marco Island has 3 golf courses.
  • Keewaydin Island, located between Naples and Marco Island, is eight miles long and is the largest barrier island beach in south Florida that is not accessible from land. The southern tip of Keewaydin is a popular gathering spot for boaters. It has the only dog-friendly beach within Collier County.

Fun Facts About Naples

  • The iconic Naples Pier stretches 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico from Naples Beach at the west end of 12th Avenue South. The original pier was built in 1888 then destroyed by fire in 1922 and after reconstruction, was damaged by hurricanes in 1910, 1926 and 1960. It was reconstructed in 2015. The pier is a favorite for sightseers and fishermen with plenty of space to cast a line. The City of Naples provides a blanket fishing license, so it’s a spot that anglers can go without having their own license. The pier is free – no admission charge – and is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It’s one of the top spots in the area to catch the spectacular nightly sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • There are over 100 art galleries in Naples. The town has been cited as the #1 Small Art Town in America in John Villani’s book The 100 Best Art Towns in America.
  • The world class Artis―Naples center is Southwest Florida’s home for the visual and performing arts. It is home to the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and hosts performances of Broadway shows, visiting orchestras, dance, and pops, as well as The Baker Museum, the foremost fine arts museum in Southwest Florida with 15 galleries housing permanent collections and traveling exhibits in 15 galleries.
  • As one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, it’s believed that Naples has more millionaires per capita than any other city in Florida.
  • Downtown Naples’ Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South shopping districts are renowned for their unique boutiques offering fashion, gifts and fine art – situated along pedestrian friendly, tropically landscaped avenues lined with outdoor café seating at most of the restaurants. Third Street South even has a live Street Concierge offering helpful advice on area shopping and dining.
  • Naples has the most golf holes per capita than any other city in the US. In fact, it’s known as the, “Golf Capitol of the World.” Greater Naples has approximately 90 18-hole golf courses, with about 30 of those courses accessible to the public.
  • Swamp Buggy Racing began in 1918 when Naples’ resident Ed Frank built his buggy from a Model T Ford and an orange crate. You can see an original Swamp Buggy at the Naples Depot Museum. Swamp Buggy Races are still held at The Florida Sports Park. In terms of landmass, Collier County is the largest county in Florida, and 80% of it is natural preserve.
  • Florida’s Paradise Coast features over 30 miles of white-sand beaches.
  • The average temperature in Naples is 75 degrees.
  • Naples reports more than 300 sunny days a year.
  • Naples is home to the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships, which have been held annually since 2016.
  • Naples Zoo is the only zoo in the southeastern United States featuring the rare Madagascar predator, the fosa. Its primate population, including lemurs, monkeys, apes and gibbons, all live cage-free on islands in a large lake. The zoo’s Black Bear Hammock is the largest black bear exhibit at any AZA-accredited zoo east of the Mississippi. Its herd of giraffe are on display and visitors may engage in feeding activities.
  • Naples Botanical Garden, 170-acres, was founded in 1993 and has the most extensive show garden of plumeria – the incredible-smelling flowers often used in Hawaaian leis, also known as lei flowers and Frangipani – in the country and perhaps the world.
  • The Florida Panther Wildlife Preserve is the main home of endangered Florida Panthers. There are an estimated 120-160 adults remaining.
  • On July 17, 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier designed the first modern air-conditioning system.
  • The city of Naples was founded during the late 1880s by former Confederate general and Kentucky U.S. Senator John Stuart Williams and his partner, Louisville businessman Walter N. Haldeman, the publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
  • The oldest house still standing in Naples was built in 1895. Called Historic Palm Cottage, it is listed as a landmark in the National Register of Historic Places and can still be visited today.
  • Naples' first airport was built in the 1920s and did double duty as a golf course.
  • Just east of Naples is the Ochopee Post Office, the smallest post office in the U.S. Well-heeled Naples is said to have more millionaires per capita than any other Florida city.
  • The Tamiami Trail (US-41), which connected Naples with Tampa and Miami, took 13 years to complete. It is 275 miles long, required 2.6 million sticks of dynamite, cost $8 million and opened in 1928. It is now a designated National Scenic Byway.

Everglades City and the Everglades: Fun Facts

  • Everglades City is known as the Stone Crab Capital of the World. Stone crabs are harvested from October 15 to May 15 and fishermen remove the claw and return the crabs to the ocean to regenerate new ones.
  • The Everglades is one of the largest wetlands in the world, and the largest and only sub-tropical wilderness in North America. Composed of the largest contiguous stand of protected mangroves in the Northern Hemisphere. Home to unique and rare wildlife including 13 endangered species and 10 threatened species.
  • Because of its vast areas of undeveloped preserve lands, Collier County is the primary habitat for the severely endangered Florida panther (Florida’s state animal), which roams through the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Collier-Seminole State Park.
  • The Everglades – nicknamed "River of Grass" – is the only place where alligators and crocodiles coexist.
  • Fire is common in the Everglades and important to maintaining the health of the habitat.
  • Its aquifer supplies 7 million Floridians with drinking water.
  • The Everglades have been around for over 5,000 years!
  • More than 360 species of birds call the Everglades home. It is NOT safe to swim in the Everglades.
  • The water in the Everglades is fairly shallow – it averages 4’ – 5’ feet deep, with the deepest point around 9’.
  • There are 68 species of mosquitoes living in the Everglades.
  • The rare and elusive ghost orchid is the main attraction at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, the native orchid capital of the United States. The endangered flower is the subject of the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean and the movie Adaptation.
  • The Paradise Coast Blueway is a network of paddling trails for kayaking. It connects Everglades City with the tiny village of Goodland on Marco Island.
  • Until 1962, Everglades City was the County Seat of Collier County. It was moved to Naples after Hurricane Donna devastated the area in 1960.
  • Everglades City (population 400) hosts the annual Everglades Seafood Festival the first weekend in February.