Can't really choose between South Beach and Sand Dollar Spit. Interesting that they use that name again. In the 'olden days' it was called Sand Dollar Spit, or Sand Dollar Island. More recently both sides of the lagoon have been referred to as Tigertail.
I vote for Tigertail first, Keewaydin second, then South Beach.
We went to South Beach the first day. It was crowded (end of July), and to me, just kind of a run of the mill Florida gulf beach with lots of boats, jet skis, parasailing, etc. We had a hard time finding a place to set up our umbrellas and chairs.
Tigertail was our choice for the rest of our beach days. We didn't mind the walk across the lagoon. It was my husband, myself, and our three boys (9, 12, 15). It is definitely the strangest way we have ever got to a beach, but it was all part of the adventure. We brought a pool float, and floated our cooler, chairs and umbrellas across. If you follow the sandy path, it's not squishy and gross like everyone says. We also thought it was pretty cool to be greeted by hundreds of fiddler crabs on the other side. There were so many it sounded like rain when they scurried back into the mangroves. Once you get to the gulf side, it is more than worth the trip. We went at different times of the day, for six straight days, and there was never more than a dozen other people on the beach. There were tons of shore birds, sand dollars (some live, and others ready to take home as souvenirs), starfish, dolphin, and more interesting seashells than I have ever found at any other beach (including Sanibel). We loved the natural feel of this beach, and feeling like we had the whole beach nearly to ourselves.
Keewaydin was also very beautiful, and felt a lot like Tigertail. The sand was very clean, and the water was very clear. There were a few shells, but nothing like what we found at Tigertail. We were the only ones as far as we could see on the Gulf side the day we went. Almost everyone stayed with their boat on the other side. It was a relaxing day, and I'm glad we did it, but I wouldn't rent a boat next time JUST for this beach.
This was our first time to Marco Island, and we never explored the areas between Tigertail and South Beach, or any other beaches off the island. So my opinion is just based on the three beaches we visited, and what my family enjoyed about them.
There is a part of Kice (southern tip) that is my absolute favorite place near Marco! It is AMAZING, with clear water, a little lagoon or pond to explore, good fishing, etc. There usually aren't many people (if any) there when we go & we LOVE the peace & solitude!!
Keeywaydin is beautiful and has a great energy, with all of the other boats and people having a good time. We always find great shells, starfish, etc. when exploring Keeywaydin.
Beautiful and quiet . . . what more could one want?
#4- South Marco
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a day at South Marco!!! We really like the area between the two sets of jetties. We enjoy watching the dolphins and manatees in this area and could easily watch the day waste away in this spot!
Tigertail is beautiful and a great beach if you're looking for nature and unspoiled land. We really love a day spent at Tigertail, just not AS much as the beaches already mentioned.
Writing this is making me miss Marco more than ever! I don't think we will ever take a summer away again!!!!:(
As we usually go for a month or longer each year since we retired we purchase a Residents Beach pass for ($130 I think) which allows us to park & use all the facilities at the beach and parking at South Beach. The beach area at Residents is central on the beach very wide you can either sit at the back end with permanent sun shades in place or go to the waters edge, taking our own shade & chairs, never crowded and a nice walk along the beach to the south end passing the Marriott ,Hilton and our favourite refreshment stop at Stilts overlooking the beach. Residents beach has a lovely café toilet facilities and a play children's area and plenty of space in the picnic areas. A winner every time.
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