Marco Island Guide
Location - History - Beaches

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View from your lounger



Osprey / Barracuda (photo credit AM)
Isles of Capri
Isles of Capri, Naples Florida
Marco Island
Almost the whole length of Resident's Beach and the South Public Beach (photo credit CM)

Marco Island Visitor Guide - Location

The City of Marco Island is located in Southwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico; some 16 miles (26 Km) south of the City of Naples off the US 41 (Tamiami Trail) and close to the western boundary of the Everglades National Park. Marco is the largest of the 10,000 islands that lie between it and the Florida Keys to the south. Miami lies 100 miles (161 Km) to the east and Tampa lies 180 miles (290 Km) to the north (see our Marco Map page for a guide to driving distances and travel times from the main local Florida airports).

It is a flat barrier island which has been developed almost fully over the last 50 years with a population of around 17,000 within it's compact 6 mile length and 4 mile width (9.6 x 6.4 Km). The population swells to around 40,000 with additional vacation visitors in the really busy months between Christmas and Easter.

The more popular local visitor attractions are the fabulous sandy beaches (see below), boating, fishing, eating out and most important of all, de-stressing and relaxing in the sun!

It is claimed that around 6 out of every 10 of the most wealthy Americans choose to vacation in the Naples and Marco area of southwest Florida; together with the hundreds of celebrities, politicians and well known business tycoons who live here permanently or who own second homes.

Esplanade Marco Island
The Esplanade for boutique stores and restaurants (photo credit CM)
Marco Island Guide - Short History

It was originally called 'La Isla de San Marco' by the sixteenth century Spanish explorers who noted it but never settled on what would have been swamp and mangroves at the time. A limited amount of tourism development first took place after 1870 by William Collier (no connection with Collier County) A small hotel opened in 1896 and the island was served by ferry boat service from the Isles of Capri from 1912.

Barron Collier (who the County was named after and no relation to William) purchased a large part of Marco in 1922. The first rickety wooden bridge was constructed in 1938 and visitors could now travel here by car. Between the years 1927 and 1957 the island was known as Collier City.

In the 1960's the Mackle brothers Deltona Corporation started major tourism and housing development of the whole island which has continued to this day. The story of the Deltona Corporation's transformation of the island in to one of Florida's top travel and vacation destinations is a fascinating subject, if you are interested in exploring the recent history further. The SS Jolley bridge opened in 1969 and the isle became the City of Marco Island in 1997.
Residents Beach Marco Island
Resident's Beach (photo credit JW)

Marco Island Travel Guide - The Beaches

Marco has five fabulous beaches, but they are all joined together so the boundaries are somewhat blurred. The whole western and northern sides of the island have a wide and unbroken strip of sand some 6 miles (9.6 Km) long.

Starting in the northern end of the island we have Sand Dollar Spit (which is separated from Tigertail (see below) and Hideaway by the Tigertail Lagoon). Sand Dollar can only be reached from the nearest parking area located at Tigertail by either wading through the lagoon or walking the long way around. The long way involves turning southeast at the Lot then making a turn toward the sea and the doubling back on yourself walking north along the waters edge. Once you have arrived in the Spit you will be greeted by the most fabulous Florida Gulf Coast beach which is rich in shells, bird life and fine vistas.

Running parallel with Sand Dollar Spit, but slightly inland, there is Hideaway Beach. This is technically a public beach but because there is no right of way access by road or on foot, the only way to visit Hideaway Beach on your vacation is by renting a small boat.

Just southeast of Sand Dollar we have Tigertail Beach. There is ample visitor paid parking off Hernando Drive and from the villa, Tigertail would be 10/15 minute cycle ride or 5 minutes travelling in the car. Visitor facilities at Tigertail include restrooms, food and beverages, a children's play area and water sport rentals, etc.

In the middle we have Resident's Beach, which despite the name is still mostly a huge visitor beach apart from the resident's only parking lot and the area of sand immediately in front of the Lot. The Marco Island Civic Association will issue temporary guest passes if you are renting Villa Fiore for a month or more (which includes visitor parking here and at Sarazen Park). Public beach access is off S Collier Blvd near the Marriott Hotel and visitor parking is available off S Collier Blvd at the Turtle Lot which is located opposite the Charter Club. From the villa, Resident's Beach would be a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute cycle ride away (1.4 miles). 

In the south near Cape Marco we have South Marco Beach. Public access is from S Collier Blvd and paid parking is available at Swallow Avenue. From the villa, South Marco Beach would be 5 minutes travelling time in a car or 10/15 minute cycle ride.

For further information on access and visitor parking for your vacation, please see our Marco Island beach access page.

Tigertail Beach Marco Island
Sand Dollar Spit and Tigertail public beach (photo credit CM)

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