As a travel professional and enthusiast, one of the unexpected but welcomed outcomes of the global lockdown has been the opportunity to explore new domestic travel options. With Florida boasting some of the best beaches in the United States by far, I’ve made it my go-to vacation spot during the pandemic. 

I’d heard great things about the southwest coast of the Sunshine State so I decided to make it the destination for my birthday trip in February. I’m so glad that I did. Depending on what type of traveler you are, Marco Island, which is a beautiful barrier island 20 miles south of Naples, you may have one of two completely different reactions to it. Let me first share with you some potential drawbacks before I discuss everything I loved.

Real Talk

Marco Island, and really the entire southwest region, is not particularly racially diverse as far as residents or travelers. Think the opposite of the Miami region, which is about a 2.5-hour drive away. For an indication of what I mean, I looked at the last census numbers and the racial makeup of the city was 95.9% white.

This beautiful year-round beach and boating resort island is also extremely laid back. That means if you’re a beach bum like me, a nature lover, or a golf fanatic, you’ll really enjoy yourself. Those are the primary attractions this resort town has to offer. If you are an adventure freak or someone who needs a mix of turnup with their beach vacay, you’ll be extremely disappointed. But, if you are a couple who’s looking for a romantic, quiet getaway or a family with young children, this vacay spot is for you. And if you are a bachelor/bachelorette group or a family looking to entertain your teenage children, it’s best to look at some other options.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me share with you everything I loved about Marco Island and the beautiful boutique resort I patronized, The Marco Beach Ocean Resort.

The accommodations

My favorite part about this quaint, oceanfront resort is that it offered spacious suites with breathtaking sunset views for a reasonable price. Contrasting the Cheeca Lodge Resort in the Keys I blogged about last month with gorgeous sunrise views, this resort gave a front-row seat to the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen. 

   

The one-bedroom suite also offered a full kitchenette complete with a refrigerator, microwave, stove, and oven. This is perfect for reheating leftovers or cooking your own budget-friendly meals. 

I also loved that this boutique resort was serious about its covid safety procedures. All staff wore masks and properly socially distanced. The resort also had signage requesting that all guests wore masks in public areas and numerous hand sanitizing stations.

The beach

This barrier island on the Gulf Coast side of Florida offers six miles of blue-ish, green waters and powdery, white sand that is filled with beautiful seashells close to the shoreline. This is a great thing if you like to collect seashells. The drawback of this beautiful scenery is that this shoreline can do serious damage to your feet! I recommend sea shoes. Be careful! 

Most of the resorts, like the Marco Beach Ocean Resort, offer beach-side service and plenty of comfy beach chairs and umbrellas. However, when the hotel is at capacity, you will want to get down to the beach as early as possible, if you’d like to reserve prime seating. 

The water was a bit chilly in February, but during the late spring, summer, and fall months, the water is ideal for water wading. I should also mention that the weather in February was perfect – sunny and warm with low humidity. 

The food

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know I couldn’t talk about a destination without reviewing the culinary delights. If this is your first time reading Golden Life Musings, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Leslie, and I’m a foodie.

Whenever I visit a new place, I try to visit as many of the restaurants at that destination as possible. Let me first say that I did not have a bad meal in Marco Island. At least three of my meals were at the resort, and they were all spectacular. The highlight of my experience, however, was at the Italian restaurant Sale e Pepe, which offered a special pre-fixe 5-course meal for my birthday dinner. (FYI, this also happened to be Valentine’s Day). It was a whole FIVE STARS!

 

Here are some of my other personal recommendations:

  • The yellowtail snapper with a lemon, garlic butter sauce and szechuan green beans at Marco Prime Steak & Seafood Restaurant
  • Crab legs (or blue crabs if they have them), Pinchers claws and crab rangoon at Pinchers
  • Kale salad and parmesan truffle french fries at The Beachfront Bar & Grill at the Marco Beach Ocean Resort

 

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Marco Island. Candidly, I was looking for a quiet vacay where the goal was to relax at the beach all day, enjoy delicious culinary treats and spend quality time with my mom and significant other while taking in the beautiful, serene environment around me. If that’s your jam, Marco Island’s got you covered.