Having lived on Marco for over seventeen years, we've been asked many times what activities we'd recommend to fi rst time visitors. So we've put together this Insider's Guide. 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 ads and guides through-out 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 112 and our more detailed Restaurant Review starting on page 115.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 36.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 and learn about it. You can expect to see dolphin (often jumping behind your boat) manatee, osprey, and many other water birds on most trips. Our area also boasts some of the best shelling in the world and, al-though you can fi nd wonderful shells on Marco, a boat trip to a Best Happy HoursArturo'sCocomo'sNacho Mama'sSale e PepeThe Sand BarSandcastles Sasso'sStiltsSunset Grillelocal uninhabited island is by far the best way to fi nd unusual shells in abundance. Ice Cream ParlorsBeebe's Ice CreamChocolate StrawberryCold Stone CreamerySweet Annie'sSee page 102 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 per-haps lunch or dinner at a waterside restaurant. See our What to Do on the Water Guide starting on page 94. Sunset at a beachside bar*The sunsets don't come much better anywhere than they do here 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.
Continued on page 110DAY 2 - A different view of the areaParasailingThis 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!Everglades Adventure Tours*You just can't come to SW Florida without visiting the Everglades - it would be like going to Africa and not going on Safari! We recommend before you go it alone you book a trip with Billy O's and informative way to see this unique environment. 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 What to do on the Water Guide starting on page 94 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 RangesOf course golf is the other thing for which SW Florida is famous and there are literally hundreds of great courses in our area, although many of them are private and for mem-bers 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. Internet AccessBeebe's Ice Cream, Marco WalkChocolate Strawberry, Bald EagleMarco I-Net Café, Marco Walk*Keep in Touch, Shops of Marco*The UPS Store, Town Center Mall*Marco Island Library, Heathwood*The Sandbar, off Bald EagleSimply Cupcakes, Olde MarcoStarbucks, N Collier BlvdSweet Annie's, Bald Eagle* computer stations availableTry something new!A Beach Family Portrait Cooking ClassesHair BraidsHelicopter Sightseeing TourKayaking/Kayak Fishing/Mangrove Tunnel KayakingScuba DivingSeashell MassageStand-up PaddleboardsWaterskiing /WakeboardingWaverunnersVantastic Tours (394-7699), a Marco based company which will take you there in style in a comfortable air-conditioned van. The trip includes an airboat ride and is a very easy Sail or Fly Away for the DayIf you're looking for a peaceful yet exhilarating way to enjoy the amazing scenery and wildlife around Marco Island, why not take a sailing tour? Off the Hook Adventures (571-4665), Cross Cruises (580-8765) Serenidad (272-0939) or Cool Beans Cruises (777-0020) offer trips of variable length, some of which include shelling on remote barrier islands and Tropicbird Sailing (595-4828) offers luxury full day excursions deep into the 10,000 Islands which include lunch. Or join Island Hop-pers (207-4100) for a helicopter sightseeing tour or an air charter anywhere in South Florida.Activities for KidsAirboat RideBeachEco-tourFishingKayakingMackle Park - playgrounds, waterpark & moreManatee SightseeingMarco MoviesNaples Botanical GardenNaples ZooParasailing/WaverunnersRookery BayTigertail Beach ParkStan's & Island Woman Fashion ShowIf you're here on a Sunday, join the crowds for a SW Florida tradition - live music, fun and a fashion show by Island Woman