Gulf Coast Travels Part I: Naples & Marco Island
For the last two weeks, I've been traveling along the Gulf Coast of South Florida on a dreamy boat trip I put together. This trip has been stewing in my mind for the last six months, and it was a treat to personally plan it. Spring is my favorite time of year in Florida--the weather is usually mild and not-so-humid yet. I traveled to eight places (ports of call) in 14 days, which felt just right. Running the boat takes work, yet it's my absolute favorite mode of transportation (and lodging, especially when we anchor out at sea). It's my pleasure to share my experiences with you, and would love to inspire your own trip to any of these wonderful places someday. Here we go!
We flew into Fort Meyers, Florida and met the boat there. We only stayed one night at Salty Sam's Marina, but had a complete blast. There are two restaurants at the marina which were quite lively--one of them had dueling piano players for entertainment (very interesting!) We had a great dinner at Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, right off the docks (their fresh grilled fish was excellent).
We promptly headed south the next morning for Naples, just about 20 miles. It's a great boat ride as you cruise along Fort Meyers Beach--very casual causing and lots to see. We would be spending the next two nights at the Naples City Docks Marina, right in the heart of Naples. I've been to Naples many times before, but have never stayed in town. It was fun to be right off Third Street, where I fell in love with some new stores and restaurants...here are some of my highlights:
Naples travel guide
Where to stay:
Naples City Dock or The Cove Inn (located on the same property)
What to do:
Spend a day at the beach
Stroll the shops on Third Street and Fifth Avenue. Personal favorite spots: C Orrico, Carter & Finley, Tommy Bahama, Marissa, Sara Campbell, Gretchen Scott, Sheldon Fine Art, Castaway.
Go for a boat ride
Visit the Naples Botanical Garden
Eat and drink this:
Tony's Off Third - breakfast and bakery
Continental - fun for happy hour and dinner
Barbatella - great pizza
Sea Salt - fresh fish entrees
The Bevy - fun vibe, great brunch
Sails - fine dining on 5th
Gumbo Limbo - Beach Bar at The Ritz
The Boathouse - at the Naples City Dock
From Naples, we would head further south. Another short jaunt to Marco Island this time. It was impossible to get a boat slip here, so we anchored out in the harbor--which ended up being so calm and fun! We spent two nights here as well. Although we were anchored out, we were able to bring our bikes to shore to do some exploring on the island...
Marco Island Travel Guide
Where To Stay:
Marinas: Rose Marina, Factory Bay Marina (We anchored out in Factory Bay)
What To Do:
Bike the island to explore (Rent bikes at Island Bike Shop)
Visit the Historical Museum - super interesting :)
Enjoy the beach...it's nice a wide!
Shop, eat, & sip at the Esplanade Shoppes
Eat and Drink This:
Smith House - adorable café
Bistro Soleil - great patio, in the Olde Marco Inn
CJ's and Mangoes - in the esplanade, great happy hour & harbor views
Quinn's On The Beach - in JW Marriott beachside, family friendly
Kane Tiki Bar & Grill - also in JW, fun vibe
I hope you enjoyed my trip so far; we have five more ports to go! Up next: Sanibel and Captiva Island. I got to stay at the iconic South Seas Island Resort marina. Don't miss out--see you next week. Have a wonderful Easter weekend!