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After spending 23 days in Marco Island working back to back incentive trips, I feel like I am a Marco Island expert. From giving our attendees advice on where to eat and play to discovering my own hidden haunts and treasures, I got a good grasp on what Marco’s all about.

From the miles of white sand beaches to the fresh seafood and many daily happy hours, Marco Island makes a great destination for families and spring breakers alike. One of my favorite parts of each day was my daily walk on the beach. You could walk for hours! And make sure you don’t miss out on the stone crab claws…

One thing to note however is the pricing and targeted clientele. You can definitely do Marco on all kinds of budgets, but expect to pay a somewhat hefty price tag at many places. Also, do not expect any nightlife to occur here. I repeat… do not expect a nightlife scene. I was in bed by 10 pm every night and happy as a clam. Who really wants to stay out all night when you have so much fun in the sun to do during the day anyways?

Don’t cross Marco Island off your list just yet though. During my stay I went everywhere from local gems to tourist hotspots and have compiled a list of my favorite places, experiences, and more that make this island so special. It’s all about balance, so try it all!

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

1. Lee Be Fish Company

Lee Be Fish Company became my go-to place for fast, fresh, delicious fish. Their fresh catch of the day is the way to go and extremely well-priced. I also love that they don’t drown their fish in butter (dairy-free problems). Lee Be is a quirky place that determines their own hours, so don’t always expect them to be open although they were extremely consistent during my visits. Take your food outside to the patio, kick back with a beer, and enjoy a casual evening on Marco.

What To Order:

  • Grilled Catch of the Day Basket – with a side of black beans & rice ($11.95)
  • Fish Taco – with a side of black beans & rice ($8.99)
  • Corona or Landshark ($3.75)

350 Royal Palm Dr, Marco Island, FL 34145

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

2. Tigertail Beach Cabanas

Let’s be honest, it’s all for the perfect Instagram photo. Kidding, but Tigertail Beach is a great place to go if you want to get stylish cabanas for a reasonable price, rent paddle boards & kayaks, or grab a bite to eat at their little cafe. Price for a cabana and two chairs is $35 for a full day.

490 Hernando Dr, Marco Island, FL 34145

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

3. CJ’s On The Bay Happy Hour

Okay so the happy hour is only on drinks, but I just enjoyed the ambience of CJ’s On The Bay and discounted drinks always make it an even better excuse to go. There’s something for everyone on the menu, and they even have a few vegan options!

Daily drink specials range from $6 Margaritas to $5 Sangria.

What To Order:

  • House Chardonnay ($3.50 during HH)
  • Tuna Poke – diced Ahi tuna tossed with a soy, sambal oelek and sweet chili dressing garnished with fresh avocado and wakami accompanied by wonton chips ($12.99)
  • Crunchy Kale Salad – julienne kale with cucumber, broccoli, grape tomato, red onion, garbanzo beans and dried cranberries tossed in a house Peppadew vinaigrette ($10.99)

Esplanade Shops, 740 N Collier Blvd #105, Marco Island, FL, 34145

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

4. Close Proximity to Naples

Naples feels like a world away from Marco Island and makes for a great day trip. Located a 45-minute drive away, Naples offers high end shopping, tasteful dining, and suave beachside resorts. It’s the perfect little day getaway from Marco.

Read about my recommendations in Naples in my 12 Hour Guide to Naples post.

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

5. Little Bar in Goodland

If you’re looking for the locals’ spot, look no further than Little Bar. After coming highly recommended by our personal concierge / friend / expert on Marco Island extraordinaire, we decided to give it a try. Don’t let the dark, dingy entrance and the name fool you, this place has character and good food to match. The menu changes daily and is brought to you table-side on a large board. If there’s one thing you must do, it is order their stone crab claws. Also, I highly recommend making a reservation.

What To Order:

  • Conch Fritters – $6.95
  • Stone Crab Claws Appetizer – hot with their mustard sauce (market price)
  • Blackened Sea Scallops – with daily vegetable on side ($24.95)

205 Harbor Pl N, Goodland, FL 34140

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

6. Speedy’s Airboat Tour in Everglades City

You gotta do an airboat tour when in Southwest Florida, and Speedy’s is the best. An hour is the perfect amount of time to zip through the Everglades on one of their fast airboats. You might even get to see an alligator like we did! For less than $50 per person, how could you say no?

621 Begonia St, Everglades City, FL 34139

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

7. Doreen’s Cup of Joe

Quite possibly the best breakfast on Marco Island, Doreen’s serves up everything from your standard savory egg dishes to indulgent sweet items with a twist (did someone say Cannoli Stuffed French Toast?) Even better, most of their ingredients are sourced within Florida, and they use cage free brown eggs. If you’re tired of emptying out your wallet at the hotel buffet, take a break from that here with their well-priced, large portions. Be prepared to wait during primetime or on a weekend, but it’s worth it.

What To Order:

  • Create-Your-Own Omelet – egg whites with sundried tomatoes, spinach, onion, zucchini, avocado
  • Vince’s Crab Cake Benny – homemade crab cakes, dijon mustard sauce on an english muffin with poached eggs and served with apples & arugula salad
  • Key Lime Pancakes – topped with a cream cheese key lime sauce
  • Side of Butternut Hash – tastes like Thanksgiving

267 N Collier Blvd, Marco Island, FL 34145

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

8. Marco Island Beach Sunsets

I’ve traveled to a lot of places and seen many sunsets, and Marco Island easily rivals them. The stunning array of colors against the expansive miles of white sand beaches is truly breathtaking. One of my favorite things to do was grab some towels and food and set up a mini beach picnic. Vacation mode initiated.

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

9. Quinn’s On The Beach at Marco Island Marriott

Quinn’s is the place to be if you’re looking to dine right on the beach. American fare with an island twist, you’ll find everything from coconut shrimp to tacos to fresh seafood selections. Don’t miss the fire show every evening at sunset too!

What To Order:

  • Corn Tortilla Chips – fire roasted salsa, guacamole, caribbean dip ($10)
  • Marco Island Salad – mixed baby greens, mango, peppers, toasted almonds, banana nut croutons, spiced mango dressing ($13)
  • Smoked Brisket Tacos – pineapple BBQ, tomatillo salsa verde, creamy slaw ($16)
  • Quinoa & Black Bean Burger – swiss cheese, BBQ ranch, whole wheat bun, side salad ($15)

400 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island, FL 34145

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

10. Korals Sushi at Marco Island Marriott

When people told me that the Marco Island Marriott lobby lounge served up some of the best sushi they’ve ever had, I thought they were crazy. Our last night on the island we decided to see what the hype was about. I now understand it. The rolls were fresh and innovative and just overall good. The appetizers are not to be missed either. Lastly, the cocktail I had was by far the best I had on the island.

The bar opens at 4pm daily and sushi service begins at 5pm.

What To Order:

  • Bullet Proof Cocktail – Bulleit bourbon, roasted bourbon soaked pineapples, lemon juice, raw sugar simple syrup ($15)
  • Crab & Avocado Salad – spicy crab, mago, crispy lotus root, frisee ($12)
  • Marco Roll – hamachi, salmon, tuna, citrus-soy, avocado, thai peppers, cucumber, mango salsa ($19)
  • Sunset Roll – spicy tuna, avocado, scallion, sesame, spicy mayo, wasabi peas, cucumber, soy paper ($17)
  • Assorted Sashimi 

400 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island, FL 34145

10 Favorite Things About Marco Island

BONUS: Marco Island Marriott Staff

Honestly, what I miss most about Marco Island are all of the staff members at the Marriott. The banquet staff was amongst the best I have ever worked with. The front desk worked hard to accommodate all of our needs and changes. The bell staff just overall rocked. One thing they all had in common was an apparent love for their jobs which translated into the little things they would do for their guests. Shoutout to our insanely knowledgable and friendly Concierge, Mike Coleman, and our FABULOUS Event Coordinator, Alyssa Price!

 

Safe travels y’all!

Best,

Chelsea Rose Martin