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A Day Trip to Marco (or Day 1 of 7 Days of Fun in the Sun)Marco offers a unique blend of luxury resorts, sophisticated restaurants and an unspoiled natural environment.... there is so much to see here but if you just have a few hours to get to know Marco here are some ideas for things to do which will leave you wishing you could stay longer! THE BEACHMarco Island is the largest and most northerly of the 10,000 Islands and its west coast is fringed by a beautiful crescent beach which sweeps, uninterrupted, from north to south (around three and a half miles in all). Whether you just want to relax in the sun and maybe take a dip in the balmy waters of the Gulf; keep fi t while enjoying a vigorous walk on the beach; or you're looking for an adventure kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing or parasailing; Marco's powder soft sandy beach is the perfect place for you. A designated Bald Eagle Sanctuary (with several breeding pairs nesting on the island), Marco is SW Florida's most southerly developed island and its proximity to the Everglades means it's home to an amazing variety of wildlife. Tigertail Beach, to the north of the island, is totally unspoiled and is listed on the Great Florida Birding Trail... it takes a little effort to reach but it is truly a nature lover's paradise. There's something about the orientation of the island that makes the beach a mecca for shells so it's also one of the best shelling spots you could ever wish to fi nd with abundant sand dollars, seastars (starfi sh) horseshoe crabs and a great variety of shells to be found at low tide. For shelling tips and identifi cation chart see page 74 and for more information on choosing which part of the beach is best for you, see "Life's a Beach" on page 30.TOURS ON THE WATER Marco's location, surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the backwaters of the 10,000 islands, makes some sort of water tour an absolute must, even on a short visit. Whether you choose to go fi shing or sailing; an airboat tour (one departs from the fi shing village of Goodland, just down the road from Marco) a dolphin watch excursion (you can even take part in a sci-entifi c study of dolphins on one local tour) a guided waverunner tour or a private eco tour, you'll leave Marco with a whole new appreciation for its unique natural beauty. On most tours you can expect to see dolphin (often jumping behind your boat), osprey, and many different kinds of water birds - and you may even be lucky enough to see a manatee, bald eagle, ray or (depending on the type of tour you take) even an alligator. Although you can fi nd wonderful shells on Marco, a boat trip to a local uninhabited island is by far the best way to fi nd unusual shells in abundance. Marco is a unique community where most of the upmarket residences are located on the water so many of the private boats will combine their eco tours with sightseeing tours of the canals. They'll also offer trips around the island, and perhaps lunch or dinner at a one of our wonderful waterside restaurants. See our What to do on the Water Guide starting on page 97. SUNSET AT A BEACHSIDE BARThe sunsets don't come much better than they do here and they can seem even more spectacular with a cool glass of something in your hand! We recommend Sunset Grille or the chickee hut at Capri Fish House. DINNER AND A MOVIEAfter such a busy day, when the sun has gone down, check out Marco Movies where you can relax and enjoy anything from a glass of wine or beer to a full meal while watching a movie - call 642.1111 for details. Or, at the weekend, how about dinner and a live comedy show at Off the Hook Comedy Club which feaures some of the nation's top stand up co-medians? Call 389.6900 to check upcoming events.114 Continued on page 116