Marco Island, FL: A Complete Vacation Guide

LGBTQ-Friendly Marco Island Florida
Photo by Phil Burrows from iStock

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There is no better place to spend a vacation under the sun than in Marco Island, Florida. Peppered with white-sand beaches, memorable experiences, and delectable seafood, you’ll never run out of things to do. If you’re looking for a getaway mixed with nature and luxury, give Marco Island a try!

Read on for our complete vacation guide to Marco Island. Explore where to go and what to do in paradise.

Background Of Marco Island

Located between Naples and the Everglades, Florida’s Marco Island is famed for its stunning beaches, natural spaces, cultural attractions, and fishing excursions. Sometimes referred to as the “Hawaii of the East” or Isla Marco, this resort island vacation hotspot is home to only 16,000 people and miles of untouched mangrove estuaries. Marco Beach, FL is also home to some of the country’s most exotic and well-preserved animal and plant species.

When on Marco Island, book your stay at the JW Marriott, which boasts over three miles of private white-sand shores. Not only is the JW Marriott luxurious, but it’s also LGBT-friendly!

Where To Stay

Marco Island is home to some of Florida’s most luxurious and beautiful resorts. When planning your stay, consider the following places for accommodation.

JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

400 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island

The JW Marriott rests upon three miles of private beaches and is the perfect island getaway for single travelers, couples, and families. Food enthusiasts can grab a bite at the resort’s twelve restaurants, featuring local Florida cuisine and other global dishes. After a delectable dinner, you can retire to the award-winning Kane Tiki Bar for a Sunset Celebration complete with an exciting fire dancing show.

Check out our review of this luxury resort here.

Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort

560 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island

For a taste of seaside luxury, book a stay at the Hilton Marco Island. Its full-service spa retreat is perfect for travelers who want to unwind with customized treatments. After a day of pampering, guests can head to The Deck at 560, with dishes highlighting Florida’s seasonal produce and fresh flavors. 

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Sunset Cove Resort

571 W Elkcam Cir, Marco Island

Travelers looking for luxury on a budget will love what the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Sunset Cove Resort has to offer. Located just 2km from Tigertail Beach, Holiday Inn’s central location makes it a popular destination for people who love shopping, hitting the beach, and exploring Marco Island’s nightlife. 

The Holiday Inn is a famous destination for couples looking for a staycation – each apartment comes equipped with a fully-functioning kitchen and other useful amenities.


Where To Hit The Beach

This prime tourist destination is most famous for its white-sand beaches. Despite being only 24 square miles large, Marco Island hosts a handful of beaches for all kinds of tourists.

South Marco Island Beach

South Marco Island Beach rests along South Collier Boulevard and is perfect for birdwatching, shelling, or boating. If you venture out into the water at the right time, you might even catch a glimpse of some dolphins!

The more adventurous at heart can try their hand at water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, or jet skiing.

Cape Romano

At the southwestern tip of Marco Island is Cape Romana. About 300 feet off Cape Romana Island is Cape Romano Dome House, a historical landmark built by oil producer Bob Lee in 1982. The concrete dome-like structures resembled igloos and were initially intended to collect rainwater into troughs.

Now, the Cape Romano domes make for an entertaining bit of local lore and a surprisingly attractive location for game fish. 

Tigertail Beach

For somewhere more remote and unspoiled, Tigertail Beach is a unique combination of a natural beach and lagoon. Here, you’ll find a vast collection of rare scallops, shells, and sand dollars, but you’ll also want to keep an eye out for stingrays!


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Where To Spend Time Outdoors

Aside from its beaches, Marco Island also boasts an abundance of outdoor attractions that draw in wilderness lovers from all over the country.

Otter Mound Preserve

1831 Addison Ct, Marco Island

Comprising mostly tropical forests, Otter Mound Preserve attracts adorable mammals like opossums, raccoons, gray squirrels, armadillos, and, of course, otters. Its unpaved trails are perfect for hikers who want an unspoiled experience.

The Dolphin Explorer

951 Bald Eagle Dr, Marco Island

When on Marco Island, dolphin watching is a must. The Dolphin Explorer is a 49-passenger catamaran that offers two daily trips. You can even get your picture taken by the boat’s on-ship professional wildlife photographer!

Because the Dolphin Explorer crew keeps track of its dolphins using photo identification, don’t be surprised if you hear your guide address these fascinating creatures by name.

Goodland Fishing Village

During the peak season, take a day trip to Goodland, FL for fresh seafood, shopping and entertainment. This quaint fishing village in Southwest Florida offers visitors a laid back charm unlike any other place in the region. If you’re tapped out on luxury and want an authentic Florida experience, this is the place to be.

Enjoy a grouper sandwich at the Little Bar Restaurant, grab a drink at Stan’s Idle Hour, or purchase a souvenir at town’s gift shop.

Marco Island Sun-N-Fun Sport Rentals

939 Chalmer Dr Unit 7, Marco Island

Tour Marco Island in style in one of Marco Island Sun-N-Fun Sports Rentals. You can spend the day exploring in a scoop coupe, golf cart, scooter or e-bike.


Where To Eat & Drink

Situated right next to some of Florida’s biggest fishing hotspots, Marco Island will spoil you for choice when it comes to seafood. Foodies seeking an unforgettable culinary experience should test their palette at these restaurants and bars.

Marco Island Brewery

Address: 1089 N Collier Blvd, Marco Island

Couples or single adults will love the Marco Island Brewery, famous for its three homemade house brews: the Tigertail Red Ale, Pelican Pilsner, and Rock IPA. The brewery is also a sports bar, where you can enjoy more than 40 HDTV broadcasts with a seafood sandwich in hand.

The Snook Inn

1215 Bald Eagle Dr, Marco Island

For over 30 years, the Snook Inn has been a Marco Island go-to for live music, beautiful sunset views, and lunch along the harbor. Happy hour happens Mondays to Fridays – you’ll get excellent deals on draft beers, house wines, and craft cocktails. 

CJ’s on the Bay

740 N Collier Blvd #105, Marco Island

You will love the breath-taking views of the bay at CJ’s on the Bay. Enjoy the ambiance while eating from a variety of foods for any palate. Sit by the largest outside gazebo bar in area or inside with the air conditioning. CJ’s is also easy accessible for free-floating boats.

Kane’s Tiki Bar & Grill

400 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island

Named after the Polynesian God of Creation and Growth, Kane’s Tiki Bar and Grill at the JW Marriott offers an unforgettable rum experience over picture-perfect Gulf views. Enjoy spiced plates of Indonesian street food while marveling at an awe-inspiring fire dance show!

Dolce Mare

599 S Collier Blvd Suite 302, Marco Island

After dinner you will want to stop by Dolce Mare for scrumptious delicacies. Enjoy one of their 29 flavors of Gelato, a slice of cake, assortment of Krispies, handmade chocolates and many more. They have something for everyone. And for those wine drinkers pair your desert with one of their exclusive fine Italian wines.


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Where To See Art & Culture

Marco Island has an undeniably rich history that you can explore during your trip. If you want to learn more about Marco Island’s former indigenous inhabitants, don’t forget to visit these places.

Marco Island Historical Museum

180 S Heathwood Dr, Marco Island

The Marco Island Historical Museum is a stunning reproduction of the original Calusa Native American village dedicated to preserving Marco Island’s rich history. The Historical Museum is adorned with photographs, artifacts, and firsthand accounts from settling pioneers.

Marco Island Center For The Arts

1010 Winterberry Dr, Marco Island

At the Marco Island Center for the Arts, you’ll find vibrant and quintessential pieces from local and regional artists. Visitors can also participate in year-round music programs and art workshops.

Marco Murder & Mayhem

100 Palm St, Marco Island

Marco Island’s history is rich…and also a bit terrifying! If you’re a thrill-chaser who wants to know all about the haunted hotels and Native American burial grounds in Florida’s Marco Island, go on one of Marco Murder and Mayhem’s unique tours. 

Popular Events

Marco Island Seafood & Music Festival

One of Marco Island’s most beloved annual events is the Seafood and Music Festival, which happens every third week of March. It draws in over 10,000 visitors who can participate in cooking competitions, arts and crafts workshops, and kids’ activities.

Harbor Arts and Music Festival

The annual Harbor Arts and Music Festival happens every March just a short 10 minute drive outside of Marco Island at Margood Harbor Park, Goodland, FL. Spend the day meandering through fine art and listening to outstanding live music.

Marco Center for Arts Yearly Festivals

Marco Center for the Arts holds numerous fairs, festivals and events throughout the year. The festivals range from Arts & Craft Fair, Cars as Art, Chalk Art and Festivals of Trees.

The Bottom Line

Marco Island’s natural splendor isn’t the only thing that makes it an attractive Florida vacation destination. It is also home to many cultural, artistic, and outdoor attractions for history buffs, thrill-seekers, and nature lovers!

If you plan to hit other Florida cities for an extended vacation, make sure you check out other vacation travel guides on OutCoast.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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june, 2024

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