Located off the coast of Southwest Florida, Marco Island is full of fun sights and activities for children. Amid the tropical greenery are more than 200 species of birds, as well as crabs, dolphins, manatees, giant snakes, crocodiles, alligators and numerous species of fish. In addition to eco-tours, beach parks, hiking and wildlife spotting, kids can enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, shell hunting, windsurfing and snorkeling.
1. Boating and Fishing
Charter a boat to catch some Marco Island fish, which include redfish, snapper, trout, sheepshead, blackdrum, tripletail, grouper and pompano. Twenty-seven-year veteran Captain Phil Ridge heads Blue Runner Charters, and will clean your catch and prepare it for cooking at a local restaurant. The first mate of Weis Guy Charters is 30-year veteran Captain Jody Weis, who will bait hooks and retrieve catches for you. Both captains are adept at teaching children how to fish.
2. Crabbing and Hiking
With the right tools and a temporary license, anyone can try crab hunting. Children may enjoy baiting the nets, tossing them onto the water and pulling them back in after a catch. More wildlife waits at the Briggs Nature Center at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Children can spot egrets, ospreys, spoonbills, snakes and ibis from the boardwalk and hiking trails. "Please touch" exhibits encourage children to get hands-on with shells and bones, large aquariums and a turtle pond.
3. Exploring the Beaches
The island offers two family-friendly public beaches with pristine white sand. South Marco Beach offers a well-kept shoreline near a resort area, perfect for swimming and sand castle building. Tigertail Beach is a 79-acre coastal stretch with a tidal lagoon, mangrove estuaries, a playground and extensive wildlife habitat. Fun water sports for children include kayaking, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, skim boarding and boogie boarding.
4. Dolphin Watching
Dolphin watching is a fun and memorable activity for children. The Calusa Spirit offers a family-friendly Dolphin Watch & Shelling Tour. The 2 1/2 tour travels to an unspoiled beach in the 10,000 Islands for dolphin watching, swimming and shell hunting. The Dolphin Explorer offers a 3-hour, up-close dolphin tour. Children can learn the names of dolphins known to the crew, and have the chance to name any new dolphins that are spotted.
- The Marco Review: Fishing
- HomeAway: Things to Do in Marco Island with Kids
- Tigertail Beach: Water Sports
- Marco Island Living: Marco Island SW FL Wildlife
- News-Press.com: Briggs Nature Center
- Marco Island Watersports: Calusa Spirit
- City of Marco Island Florida: Beach Access
- The Dolphin Explorer: Welcome Aboard the Dolphin Explorer
- Blue Runner Charters: Welcome to Blue Runner Charters
- Florida Department of Environment Protection: Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
- Soul/Lifesize/Getty Images