Things To Do On Marco Island: Otter Mound Preserve

Thousands of years ago, the ancient Calusa American tribe inhabited our barrier island of Marco Island. These native people used what was provided by nature to survive including shells, oysters, clams and other shellfish. As time passed, large shell mounds were created as they disposed of these items after use. Evidence of these shell mounds still exists today including a massive mound that at one time stretched a whole 80 acres!

Credit: Atlas Obscura

Because of Marco Island’s unique climate and soil, many Calusa artifacts including pottery, tools and bones remained preserved in the mounds for thousands of years. As the years passed, a tropical hardwood hammock formed atop the elevated landscape and created homes for wildlife.

Many years after the Calusa disappeared a local settler named Ernest Otter established his home on top of the shell mound in the 1940s. He used many of the shells to build his home. The area now known as Otter Mound Preserve opened to the public in 2004. Now protected by Collier County, visitors are encouraged to visit the site and travel back 12,000 years in time.

The site is now just 2.45 acres but provides visitors the opportunity to stroll along a trail lined by gumbo limbos, strangler figs, and swaying palms. A few structures from Earnest Otter’s settlement remain on the site and include walls constructed of lightning whelk shells. It truly is a unique can’t-miss destination during your stay on Marco Island.

Tucked away in a residential area on the southern tip of Marco Island, Otter Mound Preserve is located at 1831 Addison Court. There is a small three car parking lot. Parking and entry is complimentary.

Our valued guests trust us with their precious vacation time and our executive guest services concierge is always on call to provide you with island information including local attractions and activities. At your convenience, please call us and ask us what we can do to make your Marco Island escape a getaway you will never forget 239-217-6300.

Posted in Marco Escapes News

Marco Island June Events: SWFL Sizzle Restaurant Week

Making plans to visit our beautiful island in June? Come hungry and join the Southwest Florida community for SWFL Sizzle Restaurant Week. Stretching from Marco Island all the way up to our neighbors to the north, Cape Coral, dine on delicious regional flavors while supporting local students at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Restaurants will offer specially crafted, two course lunch and/or a three-course dinner with fixed price menus, starting at just $16 or $21 for lunch and $26 or $36 for dinner.

SWFL Sizzle Restaurant week provides visitors and residents to sample truly homemade meals by locally-owned businesses. No “chain” restaurants are provided access into the event.

The best part? You don’t need to leave Marco Island to indulge in the best dining opportunities in the area.

Local restaurants CJ’s on the Bay, Island Gypsy Café & Marina Bar, Marco Prime, and The Oyster Society.

Considered one of Marco Island’s most popular eateries, CJ’s on the Bay restaurant and bar offers fresh seafood and steaks and is a must see in the Marco Island dining scene, plus CJ’s offers spectacular waterfront dining overlooking Smokehouse Bay.

Enjoy another meal at Island Gypsy Café & Marina Bar. Dine on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico at home to a seafood-heavy American menu and cocktails in comfy dockside digs.

Marco Prime Steaks & Seafood is a welcome and new addition to the city dining scene offering a fine dining interpretation of the classic American steakhouse with hints of French, Italian & Asian influence throughout the menu. The Carvelli family has brought again their many years of experience to Marco, creating a contemporary restaurant with all the warmth and attention to detail you can highly expect.

Round off your dining adventure at The Oyster Society, a high-style seafood restaurant & raw bar with fine wines & craft cocktails in art deco digs.

A list of all participating restaurants and more information is available at www.swflrestaurantweek.com.


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Marco Island Named #1 Location in the U.S. for Well Being

According to the Gallup Well-Being rankings released in March 2019, the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro area has topped a national ranking of well-being for the fourth year in a row, receiving a score of 66.

The Well-Being Index score for the U.S. and for each metro area is based on scores within each of the five essential elements of wellbeing: Career: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals. Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life. Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security. Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community. Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

In the annual National Health and Well-Being Index, Gallup evaluated 156 communities across the country based on factors relating to the following categories: career, social, financial, community and physical well-being. Gallup surveyed around 10,000 adults for the index each month in 2017 and 2018 and averaged the data from both years to increase sample sizes.

The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida metro area took the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Naples ranked No.1 in three of the five main index categories, including social well-being, financial well-being and community well-being.

Gallup, Inc. is an American analytics and advisory company based in Washington, D.C. Founded by George Gallup in 1935, the company became known for its public opinion polls conducted worldwide.

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Marco Island Events: The Taste of Marco

Presented by the Greater Marco Family YMCA, The 29th Annual Taste of Marco brings tasty treats prepared by Southwest Florida’s finest restaurants together for a day of food, music, and family fun.

Credit: Marco YMCA

On April 28th, crowds of hungry locals and visitors will flock to The Esplanade on Marco Island for the annual food festival, one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, with all proceeds benefiting the Marco YMCA Scholarship Fund.

Attendees will spend the day savoring the flavors of paradise while enjoying live music by The Ben Allen Band. Kids games, as well as two 50/50 raffles and a wine auction, are also on the agenda during the event.

The local restaurants participating in the 2019 event include: Italian Deli, JW Marriott, 10K Alley, Mango’s Dockside Bistro, Marco Island Yacht Club, Michelbob’s Ribs and Steak, Pincher’s Crab Shack, Subway on North Collier, Verdi’s Bistro, and ZAZA Kitchen.

Not only are the local restaurants sharing their best recipes with attendees, they are also competing to win awards such as “People’s Choice”, “Best Decorated”, and “Best Theme”.

Beer, wine, and other beverages will be available for sale.

Admission is $8 for adults with kids 12 and under FREE with adult paid admission. Parking is free and boat slips are available for those who would live to arrive on the water.

The Esplanade is located at 760 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island FL 34145.

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Forbes.com Recognizes Marco Island

In a January 2019 article titled “Florida’s Paradise Coast Blends Upscale Elegance and Wild Everglades Style” posted on Forbes.com, Marco Island received high praise for its sub-tropical elegance and enchanting attractions and activities.

Highlighting Marco Island’s ability to blend an old Florida atmosphere with a sophisticated beach lifestyle, Forbes highlights the unique experiences available to visitors in the area.

The first attraction mentioned was the famed Marco Island Historical Museum, a destination that is home to one of America’s most precious examples of Pre-Columbian Native American art.

Long famous for its Key Marco Cat, an artifact from the original Calusa people who lived here before white settlements, the museum also explores the island’s growth: from wild outpost to prime seller of  real estate for the Miami-based Deltona Corporation (“We’ve got land in Florida for you,” was their clarion call).

The museum also has fun mid-century modern artifacts like a mermaid-shaped lamp and other items from the island’s 1950’s era.

Outdoor adventure attractions cited in the article include two of our favorites: Dolphin Explorer and Paddle Marco are also mentioned.

Dolphin Explorer takes you around the area with pods of dolphins often trailing the boat. The guide has images of local dolphins you can recognize from fin patterns and other details. Paddle Marco takes you wild-side with kayak expeditions into Marco Island’s mangrove swamps. Definitely wear your bathing suit to this experience as a small tip in and you’ll find yourself waist deep in muddy water–it’s all fun and games through and no gators in this swamp.

The final recommendation made by author Gretchen Kelly encourages visitors to savor the flavors of Southwest Florida’s seafood, including our world-famous stone crab.

Before you leave “Paradise” don’t forget to get stoned..that’s stoned crab, of course. Local eateries like Pinchers have Stone Crab Festivals where these hard but tender beauties render up their tasty meat with the snap of a crab-cracker.

Forbes is an American business magazine. Published bi-weekly, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, politics, and law.

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Marco Island March Events: Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival

The Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival, one of Southwest Florida’s most iconic events, returns to sunny Marco Island, Florida on March 22, 23, and 24. Enjoy a weekend full of fresh seafood, great local music, family-friendly fun, and more!

Credit: Marco Island Seafood Festival

Originally a two-day event, the festival has grown since its inception in 2008 and has become the largest yearly single event on Marco Island with over 10,000 visitors annually.

Hosted by The Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise, The Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, and the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, the 3-day festival brings the best of Marco Island to Veterans Community Park in celebration of local food, talented singers and songwriters, and our tight-knit island community.

A wide variety of seafood will be available during the festival, including Southwest Florida’s world-famous Stone Crab and “Pink Gold” jumbo shrimp, caught fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. Non-seafood favorites will also be available on site. Alcoholic beverages including Pina Coladas, Margaritas, and Rum Runners will be offered for those of legal drinking age.

Live musical entertainment is planned all day for each day of the festival.

Headliners include:

   – Friday, 6 – 9 pm. Disco Inferno.

   – Saturday, 3-6 pm. Ben Allen Band & from 7- 9pm The LandSharks

   – Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm. One Night Rodeo

The Festival also includes over 60 Arts and Craft Vendors and a Kids Zone.

Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed inside the festival, but coolers are not.

Tickets for the annual event are available at www.marcoislandseafoodandmusicfestival.com. A one-day admission ticket is $10, and a two-day admission ticket is $16. Children under 12 are free.

The festival hours are:

Friday, March 22 at 11:00 am -9.00 pm.

Saturday 11 am – 9:00 pm

Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Veterans Park is found at 901 Park Avenue Marco Island, FL 34145. There is ample parking on the festival grounds. However, free bus transportation is offered on Friday and Saturday along Collier Boulevard to Veterans Park and return.

Posted in Marco Escapes News

Marco Island Listed as Top “Safe City” in Florida

The National Council for Home Safety and Security, a trade association comprised of home security professionals across the U.S., has released their annual list of the “Safest Cities” in Florida and has ranked Marco Island as the third safest city in the Sunshine State, listed only behind Satellite Beach and Key Biscayne. Marco Island was previously included on the list in 2018.

The association uses the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics, along with population data and internal research, to come up with its findings.

In addition to, sunny beaches and palm trees visitors to Marco Island will also experience peace of mind. Splash in the pool, enjoy a local meal, and soak up over 250 days of sunshine knowing you and your family are very safe.

Marco Island is a true vacation oasis for both young and young at heart. Enjoy gourmet dining, world-class boutiques, an unlimited number of outdoor activities, perfect weather, and of course, our finely curated collection of the most sought-after luxury vacation homes on Marco Island.

From beachside condominiums to luxurious waterfront homes, we are here to deliver the most exceptional experience on Marco Island. Whether you are booking travel for two or twelve, our collection of homes is sure to delight and provide the perfect setting for your group to make everlasting island memories.

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Tigertail Beach Named Best Secret Place to Visit in America

Coastal Living Magazine has named Tigertail Beach, located right here on Marco Island, as its #3 “Best Secret Place To Visit in America Now”

“From chic glampgrounds to hidden beaches, these off-the-radar spots are waiting for you right in your own backyard.”

Tigertail Beach beat out 11 other U.S. destinations, including Kaluahine Falls in Hawaii and The Tarpon Lodge to our north on Pine Island, Florida, securing a spot in the top 3.

Coastal Living says:

“A pristine Gulf of Mexico sandbar, it requires wading across a lagoon.”

If you are unfamiliar with Tigertail Beach, the award-winning destination is home to 79 acres of sugary white sand for your enjoyment. Conveniently located near our luxury vacation rentals on Marco Island, the park has plentiful parking, six boardwalks with ADA accessible paths, restroom facilities, educational kiosks, a playground, butterfly garden, beach rentals (paddleboards, kayaks, water bikes, cabanas, and the Tigertail Beach Café.

As one of Marco Island’s most popular attractions, you will not have any issues finding beach activities the entire family will enjoy. Attendants and Park Rangers are on hand to facilitate your day on the sand.

Why is the beach called “Tigertail Beach?” Legend has it that “Tigertail” is derived from a native American name, and was the nickname of a famous Florida Seminole Indian leader during the Second Seminole Indian War. Tigertail received his nickname from the U.S. Army soldiers because he wore a long strip of panther skin from his waist.

During your visit, expect to encounter wildlife like dolphins, manatee, and birds. The beach is part of the Florida Birding Trail. Keep an eye out for shorebirds which including Snowy Plovers, Piping, Wilsons, Terns, Roseate Spoonbills and Red Knots. Osprey, Bald Eagles, pelicans and gulls.

Visitors can also explore the tidal lagoon that separates the park from the Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife area, known as the Sand Dollar Spit. There you can find horseshoe crabs, needle fish, fighting conchs and more.  

Coastal Living.com is the No. 1 online authority for those captivated by the coast

With 10 issues published each year, Coastal Living introduces readers to homes, destinations, activities, and people along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf shores of North America

Posted in Marco Escapes News

Marco Island Christmas Boat Parade 2019

After being postponed in 2018 due to Hurricane Irma, the annual Island Style Lighted Boat Parade returned to Marco Island with a bang on December 8.

We are thrilled to announce that Marco Escapes’ very own Kathy Rushalk and Alexander Dubicki received several accolades during the annual holiday event.

Kathy and her husband Captain Michael Rushalk’s stunning 35 ft. sloop “Euphoria” received the Best in Parade award for their magnificent floating light display that resembled a magnificent Christmas tree.

Captain Alexander Dubicki won the award for Most Entertaining vessel for his hilarious presentation of inflatable “Minons” aboard his vessel named “Sophie’s Dinghy.”

The evening was surely one to remember. With warm gulf winds offering a stark contrast from last year’s conditions when the event was cancelled after Collier Creek’s entrance was deemed too dangerous to pass.

After the sunset, judges took their seats upon the reviewing stand high above the water to review all 15 participants. Others who decorated their boats for judging included the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, Santa Claus, local businesses, and private citizens.


Video Credit goes to “Joey Waves via Facebook”

All in all, holiday cheer filled the air as Christmastime tunes filled the air and the spirit of the season captivated participants and spectators, both young and old.

Posted in Marco Escapes News

Marco Island Bike Tours

December is the perfect time of the year to take a break from the beach and head inland for a Marco Island Bike Tour. Marco Island boasts some of the most enviable temperatures in the country during the end of the year and there is no better way to explore Marco Island than on two wheels with the sun on your back and a mild gulf breeze to help push you along.

Join the island’s only bike tour group, Sunshine Bike Tours. This accomplished “boutique” bike tour business delivers high quality service to small groups. Hop on a beach cruiser to get up close and personal with Marco Island’s most memorable sights. Tours highlight Marco Island’s cultural and historical sights, beautiful homes and architectural wonders that line the iconic waterways of our barrier island. Let’s not forget about discovering the abundant natural landscapes and wildlife preserves that are home to tropical flora and fauna, sea creatures, birds, and more.

Two tours, a nature and sunset tour respectively, are available. Private, custom tours are also available upon request. All tours ride at a leisurely and recreational level pace and are predominantly on the Islands designated bike lanes, sidewalks, and quiet back streets

Tours start conveniently at 600 S. Collier Blvd. and last approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. Tour bikes accommodate heights 4’9″ to 6’9″ tall. Tour rider must know how to ride and control a single-speed beach cruiser with a brake pedal and keep pace with the tour group.

Helmets are provided and required to be worn for safety. Recommended tour items are comfortable bike riding clothes, closed-toe shoes like tennis or running shoes, sunscreen and chapstick, sunglasses, hand towel, camera, and money for miscellaneous.

To schedule your Marco Island bike tour, call (239) 784-7550.

A bike tour on Marco Island is a personable, enjoyable, scenic and educational way to get to know the island one-on-one.

Posted in Marco Escapes News