Marco Island

La Isla de San Marco

Marco Island has six miles of beach and more than 100 miles of waterways within its 24 square miles.It is located in the Gulf of Mexico near Naples and is part of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands. The main island holds two communities – resort town Marco and the time-stilled fishing community of Goodland. Isles of Capri is another community of mostly a wintering population and a few worthwhile restaurants to the north of Marco Island. Small planes can land at the Marco Island airport, but most air passengers arrive through the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers.

What is the history of Marco Island?

Marco Island was once the domain of the fierce Calusa Indians and hardy pioneers. It is believed that the Calusa moved to Florida at least 4,000 years ago. The Calusa were expert woodworkers who carved hollowed-out canoes and beams and planks for their houses, docks, and piers. Archaeological finds on Marco Island revealed fine hand-carved works- masks, animals, and even gods. The most famous discovery, a six-inch wooden panther-like figure named Key Marco Cat, is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution. The island and Southwest Florida were nearly uninhabited until after the Civil War. Pioneers willing to live around the raw, mosquito-infested mangrove swamp settled the island and fished, hunted, and shipped surplus crops to Key West. The island’s wide, fine-sand beaches meant the advent of tourism for Marco Island, especially after a bridge first hooked to the mainland in 1938. Waterfront resorts and condo complexes arose on the island’s enviable, crescent beach. On August 28, 1997, the people of Marco Island elected to incorporate for the second time. The first time the city was known as Collier City and was incorporated in 1927, but later unincorporated.

What sets Marco Island apart from other Florida vacation spots?

Its close proximity to Ten Thousand Islands makes Marco Island a prime destination for boaters and fishers. The island is known also for its vibrant arts scene and well-varied dining options. Other activities include shelling the beaches and experiencing local color at an outdoor “chickee bar”- thatched structures built by the nearby Seminole tribe. Inland Marco Island provides sanctuary for more than 200 species of birds. The town of Goodland retains its colorful character as a “little drinking village with a fishing problem,” especially on Sundays in season when Stan’s Idle Hour hosts dances featuring the signature Buzzard Lope dance.