Thanks to everybody who has posted tips on Marco Island on this forum which we found really useful. We have just arrived back in Ireland after a fantastic 16 night holiday and wanted to share some of the highlights with you all:
The Beaches - wow! special thanks to Marco Red who checked out the parking permit info for us. We purchased our permit on the first day from the attendant at Tigertail beach for $49, and it proved to be great value for money for us. We used it for Tigertail, South beach, and the pier in Naples so it paid for itself very quickly. The beaches were truly beautiful with white sands and blue seas, and we really enjoyed collecting the shells.
The Food - we loved Joey's Pizza and pasta restaurant, and would recommend the breakfast at Sue's Diner. I don't think we missed an evening where we didn't visit the Esplanade and sample a Coldstone Creamery Shake or ice cream. We also had a lovely lunch at the Snook Inn, and sampled Michelbobs ribs.
Tours - The Marco Princess boat tour from the Marina is definitely worth doing. We did the Saturday lunchtime tour, which cost $30 for 2 hours on a beautiful boat. For an extra $10 you can have a buffet lunch on the boat and this looked very nice. The crew were excellent and really informative, and we saw dolphins, manatees, osprey and learned loads about the island.
Trips - We would highly recommend the trip to Shark Valley. It is approx 1 hour east on I41 and you can hire a bike and cycle around or take a ranger led tour, which we did. We had never seen alligators in the wild before and thought this was amazing. On the way back we drove on the loop road which is a 26 mile drive on a small road which leaves I41 and there are markers along this where you get to see alligators in the swamps, which are on either side of the road. One word of warning - the condition of the road is bad with a lot of large potholes and these were full of water following rain the previous night. We had an SUV so it was no problem,but I wouldn't like to have driven this in a midsize vehicle as some brave tourists did.
Movies at Marco - We really enjoyed this and had some lovely food whilst watching a good thriller in very comfortable seats.
Once again, thanks to Marco Red, Turnerbudd, JackiePaddy and all of the other people who regulary post on his forum as we found it invaluable when preparing for are holiday - roll on 2010.