The beautiful Marco Island, situated at the southwest corner of Florida, is a tropical paradise known for its rich history and remarkable natural beauty. This six by four-mile island is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, pristine beaches, and unspoiled wilderness.
A Historical Overview
Marco Island’s history traces back to when it was the site of a famous archaeological expedition in 1895. The island was majorly an agricultural and fishing community until the arrival of Captain W. T. Collier and his son, William D. Collier, from Tennessee in 1870. They brought the island closer to the outside world.
In 1922, Barron Collier, a New York advertising executive, extended his Fort Myers to Southern Railroad to Marco Island. The real transformation of the island began after World War II when developers transformed most of the pristine tropical island into an upscale retirement community and resort, replete with a network of canals and roadways. Today, the island is a bustling tourist destination surrounded by hundreds of virgin islands.
Historical Sites to Explore
Isles of Capri
Begin your journey by heading west on Capri Boulevard. Here, you’ll find the Isles of Capri. Once a quaint fishing village, the area now boasts several seafood spots and places to rent boats, pontoons, and kayaks.
Marco Island Cemetery
Venturing north of Marco Island, you’ll find the Marco Island Cemetery, the final resting place of the pioneers like the first Colliers who arrived on the island. The cemetery dates back to 1886 and even houses the grave of famous golfer Gene Sarazen.
W. D. Collier House
Further along the northern tip of Marco Island is the W. D. Collier House, now functioning as Marek’s Restaurant. This historic house is just a stone’s throw away from the Olde Marco Ferry Landing, which operated between 1920 to 1938.
Olde Marco Inn
A visit to Marco Island is incomplete without stopping by the Olde Marco Inn. This wooden structure dating back to 1883 is one of the oldest buildings on the island. The inn’s restaurant occupies part of the property of W. D. Collier’s Inn.
Tigertail Beach, off Seaview Circle, is the only large public beach on Marco Island. Its tropical setting is a refreshing sight amidst the bustling cityscape.
As you continue your journey southward on Collier, you’ll pass by Point Marco. This spot offers a breathtaking view of the thousands of coastal islands stretching into the Everglades. It also features a small beach access for visitors.
Caxambas Clam Factory
Off Inlet Drive, you’ll find the site of the Caxambas Clam Factory. Although not much remains of the factory that operated back in 1904, the site is a reminder of the island’s rich past.
The Estates, located off Barfield Road, features rows of large mansions that reflect the island’s transformation into an upscale retirement community.
Marco Island Golf and Country Club
Before you return to FL 951, make sure to pass by the Marco Island Golf and Country Club. The club’s Island Club is a must-visit for golf enthusiasts.
Beyond its historical sites, Marco Island offers a multitude of attractions for every kind of traveler. Nature lovers can enjoy the scenic beauty of Collier-Seminole State Park or the Rookery Bay Sanctuary. Those who seek adventure can engage in watersports at numerous spots around the island. Shoppers can explore the island’s shopping district along North Collier.
Exploring Marco Island by boat offers a unique perspective of this tropical paradise. From its rich history to its spectacular natural beauty, the island has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just looking to unwind, Marco Island is the perfect getaway.