Having lived on Marco for over fi fteen years, we've been asked many times what activities we'd recommend to fi rst time visitors. There are so many things to do it's hard to know where to start, but here goes.... We're assuming that funds are unlimited ( which, sadly, isn't often true at the moment) and the weather is perfect ( which, happily, it usually is). Also that the vacationers are able- bodied and energetic ( they'll need to be if they do everything we suggest here!) but don't forget, the ideas are interchangeable and along the way we've listed many other ideas which may be more applicable, so mix and match to create your ideal plan. For those of you who are only staying for a few days we've also marked with * the things we consider to be absolute " must sees". You'll fi nd more details about most of our suggestions in the Activities Guide on pages 70- 72 and in the ads throughout the magazine. And please don't think, because we haven't recommended many restaurants ( unless they offer something unique), we don't want you to eat while you're here! It's just that dining is so subjective we'd prefer you to make your choice by referring to our Dining Guide on page 108 and our more detailed Restaurant Review starting on page 111. DAY 1 - Getting to know us! Walk on South Beach Break yourself in gently with a stroll along the beach at the south end of the island. It's great to sit on the rocks at the tip of the beach, breathe in the clean salt air and watch fi shermen, birds and boats go about their business. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some dolphin or a manatee swimming by, and you should be able to fi nd some great shells here at low tide so don't forget to take a shelling bag along with you. For more info see " Life's a Beach" on page 66. Marco Island Blue and Orange Line Trolley Tours Get your bearings on this narrated 90 minute tour of Marco and Goodland. You can get off at any of the ten stops along the way and reboard later, but check that you're not on the last tour or you'll get left behind! Eco/ Shelling/ Sightseeing Boat Tours* SW Florida is famous for its wonderful wildlife and an eco boat tour is one of the best ways to see, experience Best Happy Hours Chefs' Express Cocomo's Nacho Mama's Sale e Pepe The Sand Bar Sandcastles Sasso's Stilts Sunset Grille and learn about it. You can expect to see dolphin ( often jumping behind your boat) Ice Cream Parlors Beebe's Ice Cream Chocolate Strawberry Cold Stone Creamery Sweet Annie's Tutti Frutti manatee, osprey, and many other water birds on most trips. Our area also boasts some of the best shelling in the world and, although you can fi nd wonderful shells on Marco's beautiful beach, a boat trip to a local uninhabited island is by far the best way to fi nd unusual shells in abundance. See page 90 if you need help identifying your fi nds. Many of the private boats will also customize your tour to include trips around the island, sightseeing in the canals, and perhaps lunch or dinner at a waterside restaurant. See the " Boating & Watersports" section in our Activities Guide on page 70.
Sunset at a beachside bar* The sunsets don't come much better anywhere than they do on Marco Island and they can seem even more spectacular with a cool glass of something in your hand! We recommend you try Sunset Grille, Stilts or the chickee hut at Capri Fish House. DAY 2 - A different view of the area Parasailing This has to be one of the most exciting ways to get the best view of Marco Island! You can see for miles from up there, often spotting fi sh and dolphin in the clear water below. It's safe and fun for all ages so call Marco Island Watersports, who are based at the Marriott ( 642- 2359), Hilton ( 642- 3377), Marriott's Crystal Shores ( 394- 4344) and Surf Club, to book the ride of a lifetime! Helicopter Sightseeing Tour Or why not try a helicopter sightseeing tour with Island Hoppers? 207- 4100. It's surprisingly inex-pensive and you can get a bird's eye view of the island and it's surrounding area, and even take a trip to the Everglades. Everglades Adventure Tours* You just can't come to SW Florida without visiting the Everglades - it would be like going to Africa DAY 3 - Getting down to some fun Charter Fishing* ( see article on page 80) Marco and the 10,000 islands are world famous for amazing sports fi shing and, because of our unique location, you can choose between offshore, near shore/ reef fi shing and backwater fi shing, each of which offers its own unique challenges and rewards. Our Activities Guide on page 71 has a wide range of wonderful captains who offer half and full day trips and some even do night fi shing or kayak fi shing. Golf/ Driving Ranges Of course golf is the other thing for which SW Florida is famous and there are liter-ally hundreds of great courses in our area, although many of them are private and for members only. Here are a few suggestions of golf courses in Naples which are open to the public: Lely Flamingo Island & Mustang Golf Clubs, 793- 2600, Forest Glen 354- 1898, Cedar Hammock, 793- 1134 and Links of Naples ( only local lighted course) 417- 1313. Local driving ranges include: Coral Isle Golf Center, 732- 6900. If you'd like more information, www. marcoislandgolf. com is an informative website. Day Trip to Key West Sit back and relax on this 3 hour boat trip with Key West Express ( 1- 888- 539- 2628) because you'll need all your energy when you arrive at one of the most exciting places in the USA. The boat leaves daily up to the end of April ( weather permitting) from Rose Marco River Marina on Bald Eagle Drive and you can either come back the same day or stay over, returning on another day ( be sure to check that the boat is running on the day you plan to return because trips are sometimes cancelled in advance if the weather forecast is bad). Internet Access and computer Use: Chefs' Express, Olde Marco Keep in Touch, Shops of Marco The UPS Store, Town Center Mall, Marco Island Library The Sandbar, off Bald Eagle Starbucks on N Collier Blvd Sweet Annie's, Bald Eagle Continued on page 102 Try something new! A Beach Family Portrait Hair Braids Helicopter Sightseeing Kayaking/ Kayak Fishing Scuba Diving Seashell Massage Segway of Naples Waterskiing / Wakeboarding Waverunners Gambling at Seminole Casino and not going on Safari! We recommend before you go it alone you book a trip with Vantastic Tours ( 394- 7699), a Marco based company which will take you there in style in a comfortable air- conditioned van ( see feature on page 62). Or another option would be Everglades Excursions ( 262- 7300). The trips include an airboat ride and are a very easy and informative way to see this unique environment.