Marco is a great place for a short vacation or a long stay, with many varied choices of how to spend the days and renting a boat should be right up there close to the top of the "must do" list. Rose Marina is the largest and most experi-enced boat rental company in Southwest Florida and because they have been in the business for such a long time, they are experts on all the things you should know before starting off on what is sure to be a wonderful day.First timers welcomeRose Marina has two different styles of boats for rent and both are around 20ft in length. The center consoles accommodate fi ve people while the pontoon boats can take ten. The pontoon is more maneuverable and responsive, so is probably a better choice for the real beginner.Now we know what to do, where can we go? A full day rental costing $265 is the best value and allows plenty of time to explore the area. As you can imagine, you can't go just anywhere and Rose Marina has a "marked up" water-proof chart that is really easy to follow and extends from Coon Key Light (about 45 minutes to The fi rst time we rented a boat wasn't in Marco but on Lake Powell in Utah, and I soon realized it's not like driving a car! The guys at Rose Marina take renters through a complete "get to know the boat" - on the boat - from bow to stern. They're extremely patient and welcome questions, making sure that everyone is completely comfortable before they leave the marina. All boats are fi tted with two way radios, all the usual USCG safety equip-ment and life jackets for all ages. And, if you feel you need it, they will even give you an orientation cruise out on the water.the south), to Tin City in Naples ( about 90 minutes to the north). The chart clearly marks any very shallow areas that are off limits, The Gulf of Mexico is off limits also but there's still a lot of ground (or water!) to cover. Travel north on the Intercoastal Waterway and beach the boat on Keewaydin Island. You can then walk the short distance to the pristine, often deserted beach on the Gulf side, for a day of beachcombing, sun-bathing and swimming. Take a picnic, cold drinks and sunscreen, but remember don't drink and drive! And don't forget to take our shelling guide on page 102 along with you to help identify your many fi nds.Frequent Renters & Military DiscountsJoin the Frequent Renters Club for $65 and then enjoy 20% discount forever. If you're a returning or furloughed mem-ber of the armed forces, Rose Marina is proud to offer you free boat rental as their way of saying "Thank You".
Backwater fishingSince Rose Marina is a full service marina, they can also assist if you want to fi sh as part of your day on the water. They have rods for rent, bait for sale and blue dots on their chart marking the fi shing spots. Don't be fooled by the shallow water you will be in most of the day - we have caught sizeable snook, trout and shark in the backwaters. Remember to take a cooler and a fi sh identifi cation chart in case you want to keep your catch and grill it back on shore or take it to a local restaurant (cleaned and fi lleted fi rst of course) for them to cook for you. Take a trip to Naples or GoodlandHeading north along the Intercoastal Waterway will provide a very varied trip. No doubt seeing dolphin, plenty of shorebirds, osprey and herons before reaching the multi-million dollar homes of Port Royal. There are a number of waterside restaurants in Tin City to choose from for a waterside lunch, as well as the Capri Fish House on Capri and Marco's famous Snook Inn on the way back. Heading south under the Jolley bridge and the newly fi nished span, you will have plenty of views of the 10000 islands and its wildlife. Again, you should get to see dolphin and probably stingray and, if you're lucky, a loggerhead turtle on its way to or from nesting. After passing under Goodland bridge you have three or four choices for lunch at waterside restaurants (a couple will be closed in July, August and part of September). Yet again, use the waterproof chart which marks a few of the local restaurants accessible on your journey.Take your boat homeIf you happen to be renting a home or condo located on a canal, maybe think about a multi day rental (with appropriate discounts) and then dock your boat outside your home ready for more fun the next day. Having tried it once you'll want to be out on the water as much as you possibly can - enjoying Marco as it should be enjoyed - from and on the water. This is your captain speaking...Dining at a waterside restaurant, enjoying a secluded beach or fi shing in the backwaters - renting a boat opens up a wide range of fun ways to experience the waters around Marco. And the best part is - YOU are now the captain!The Ship's StoreThe Rose Marina store has a wide selection of men's and women's name brand clothing, footwear, and accessories that you'll be happy to be seen in while cruis-ing Marco's waters They include Columbia, Sperry and Tommy Bahama to name but a few. A huge fi shing tackle department with expert advice, jewelry and boat accessories completes the store's interesting lineup.Rose Marina is located at 951 Bald Eagle Drive 239.394.2502 www.rosemarina.com