Tucked away in the southwestern corner of the Sunshine State, Florida’s Paradise Coast is a haven for travelers seeking a harmonious blend of nature’s wonders, vibrant cultural experiences, and luxurious relaxation. This pristine stretch of coastline, encompassing Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades, has long remained one of Florida’s best-kept secrets, inviting visitors to explore its diverse landscapes and indulge in unparalleled hospitality.
Naples: The Jewel of Paradise Coast
Naples, often referred to as the crown jewel of Florida’s Paradise Coast, is a charming coastal city that effortlessly combines sophistication with laid-back beach vibes. This picturesque destination is known for its meticulously maintained beaches, where powdery white sands meet the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you’re strolling along the iconic Naples Pier, basking in the sun at Lowdermilk Park, or enjoying a serene sunset at Vanderbilt Beach, Naples offers a coastal experience like no other.
Naples’ culinary scene is a gastronomic journey that will satisfy even the most discerning palates. The city’s restaurants serve up a delightful fusion of flavors, from fresh Gulf seafood to farm-to-table creations. A visit to the historic Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South districts reveals an array of dining options, from fine dining establishments to charming sidewalk cafes.
Beyond its natural beauty, Naples boasts a thriving cultural scene. The Artis—Naples, home to the Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum, offers a diverse range of performances and exhibitions. The Naples Botanical Garden provides a tranquil retreat with its lush greenery and captivating plant collections.
Naples Botanical Garden
Marco Island: A Tropical Hideaway
Just a stone’s throw away from Naples lies Marco Island, Florida’s largest barrier island. The heart of Marco Island’s allure lies in its beaches. The crescent-shaped shoreline stretches for miles, inviting you to stroll along powdery sands, collect seashells, or simply lounge in the warmth of the Florida sun. South Marco Beach and Tigertail Beach are among the favorites, each offering unique coastal experiences. South Marco Beach is known for its tranquil shoreline, perfect for sunbathing and shelling, while Tigertail Beach is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
The island’s location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it a water sports paradise where you can kayak through the mangrove tunnels of the Ten Thousand Islands, spot dolphins and manatees on a boat tour, or try your hand at fishing in the warm Gulf waters. Marco Island’s dining scene is equally inviting. It’s where you can feast on succulent stone crab claws, buttery lobster tails, and perfectly grilled fish while gazing out at the Gulf’s endless horizons.
Everglades: A Wilderness Adventure
Florida’s Paradise Coast wouldn’t be complete without the Everglades, a vast and mysterious wilderness that’s a short drive from Naples and Marco Island. The Everglades are best explored by airboat, and tours offer an up-close look at this unique ecosystem. Glide through the sawgrass prairies, venture into mangrove tunnels, and spot alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife along the way. If you’re a nature enthusiast you’ll find yourself in paradise with opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife photography. The Big Cypress National Preserve and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are prime locations for immersing yourself in the wonders of the Everglades. The Everglades also serve as a reminder of the importance of conservation. Visitors can learn about the delicate balance of this ecosystem and the efforts to preserve it at educational centers like the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Faze had a chance to visit the Paradise Coast and here are a few of our fave things to do, places to eat, and where you can stay…
What To Do:
Museum of Everglades, Everglades City
Located in the quaint town of Everglades City, Florida, the Museum of the Everglades is a captivating cultural repository that delves into the region’s storied past. Housed within a historic laundry building, this museum offers an engaging exploration of the area’s history, from the indigenous Calusa people to the intrepid pioneers who transformed the Everglades. Through a collection of artifacts, photographs, and informative exhibits, the museum vividly portrays the challenges and triumphs of life in this ecologically significant corner of Florida. It serves as a bridge between the past and present, offering you a deeper understanding of the region’s rich cultural heritage and the pivotal role it plays in preserving the unique and vital Everglades ecosystem. A visit to this museum is a fascinating journey through time, illuminating the history and significance of this remarkable landscape.
Via: Faze Magazine
Via: Faze Magazine
Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours, E Ochopee
Situated in Collier County, southwest Florida, Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours is a renowned and family-owned establishment that invites you to immerse yourself in the captivating world of the Florida Everglades. With over six decades of experience, Wooten’s has become synonymous with thrilling airboat adventures through this unique ecosystem. You can embark on guided airboat tours, guided by skilled captains who expertly navigate the winding waterways, mangrove forests, and sawgrass prairies. These excursions offer a close encounter with the Everglades’ abundant wildlife, including alligators, wading birds, and other native species, all thriving in their natural habitat. Beyond the airboat rides, Wooten’s offers interactive wildlife shows where you can interact with alligators and snakes. The facility also boasts a boardwalk and observation tower, providing a closer look at the Everglades’ diverse flora and fauna. Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours is not just an adventure but also an immersive experience that allows you to appreciate the beauty and significance of this exceptional wilderness.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples
A pristine and awe-inspiring natural preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary offers an immersive experience in the heart of the Everglades ecosystem. Managed by the National Audubon Society, this sanctuary spans over 13,000 acres of pristine wetlands, cypress forests, and swamps, making it a vital refuge for diverse wildlife. While here you can explore a 3.6 km boardwalk that meanders through this unique habitat, allowing for up-close encounters with alligators, wading birds, otters, and more. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 200 species of birds calling Corkscrew home. The sanctuary also houses the Blair Audubon Center, featuring educational exhibits, interactive displays, and a gift shop. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary offers a peaceful and educational escape into the heart of nature, making it a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers in the Naples area.
Via: Faze Magazine
Mangrove Tunnels and Mudflats Kayak Tour
The Mangrove Tunnels and Mudflats Kayak Tour with Rising Tide Explorers is an adventure that immerses you in the region’s mesmerizing coastal ecosystems. This guided tour takes you through the intricate network of mangrove tunnels, winding waterways, and expansive mudflats that are emblematic of Florida’s unique natural beauty. As you kayak through these pristine waters, you’ll have the opportunity to observe a diverse array of marine life, including birds, fish, and crabs, while learning about the fragile and vital ecosystems that support them. Rising Tide Explorers’ experienced guides provide valuable insights into the region’s ecology, history, and conservation efforts, making this tour both an educational and exhilarating experience. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a novice, this adventure offers a remarkable opportunity to connect with nature and explore the hidden wonders of Florida’s coastal landscapes, making it a must-do activity for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers visiting the region.
The Marco Island Bicycle Tour, Marco Island
The Marco Island Bicycle Tour is an active adventure that allows you to explore the stunning landscapes, charming neighborhoods, and hidden gems of Marco Island on two wheels. Led by knowledgeable and friendly guides, this tour offers a unique perspective of the island’s beauty and culture. You can pedal along scenic paths and quiet streets, taking in panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, lush nature preserves, and picturesque waterfront properties. Stops along the way offer opportunities to learn about the island’s history, ecology, and local culture. The tour is suitable for cyclists of all levels and ages, making it a fantastic outdoor activity for families, friends, and solo travelers. It provides a refreshing and eco-friendly way to experience the island’s natural beauty and vibrant community, creating lasting memories for all participants.
Where To Eat:
Tesoro at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Marco Island
Nestled within the luxurious JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort in Florida, Tesoro is a culinary gem that embodies excellence in dining and hospitality. This upscale dining establishment offers a refined experience, combining Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with breathtaking Gulf of Mexico views. Guests can savor an array of meticulously crafted dishes prepared using locally sourced ingredients. From fresh seafood to succulent steaks, the menu is a fusion of flavors and artistry. The restaurant’s elegant interior, adorned with contemporary decor and warm lighting, sets the stage for an intimate dining experience. With its attentive service, exceptional wine list, and stunning sunset vistas, Tesoro is not just a restaurant but a destination if you’re seeking an unforgettable gastronomic journey in the paradise of Marco Island.
Triad Seafood, Everglades City
A beloved seafood institution, Triad Seafood embodies the essence of Gulf Coast dining. This family-run establishment has been serving up fresh catches from the Gulf of Mexico for generations. From succulent stone crab claws to flavorful grouper, the menu showcases the region’s maritime treasures. Visitors can savor their seafood indoors or on the outdoor deck, which offers picturesque views of the Barron River. Triad Seafood is not just a restaurant; it’s a genuine Florida experience, where you can immerse yourself in the coastal charm and savor the delectable flavors of the Gulf Coast.
Via: Faze Magazine
CJ’s On The Bay, Marco Island
A renowned waterfront restaurant, CJ’s On The Bay combines exquisite dining with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Nestled in the Esplanade Shoppes, CJ’s offers a delightful culinary experience in a relaxed and upscale setting. The restaurant specializes in seafood and American cuisine, featuring an array of fresh catches and delectable dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Guests can savor their meals while enjoying the soothing sound of lapping waves and the mesmerizing sunset over the bay. The outdoor seating area is particularly popular, providing an al fresco dining experience that encapsulates the essence of coastal dining. With its warm hospitality, live music, and an extensive wine list, CJ’s On The Bay is a favorite among locals and visitors seeking an unforgettable dining experience on Marco Island.
Maia at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Marco Island
A culinary gem, Maia embodies the essence of Mediterranean-inspired dining. Overlooking the stunning Gulf of Mexico, Maia offers a delightful fusion of coastal flavors and upscale elegance. The restaurant’s menu showcases fresh and locally sourced ingredients transformed into delectable dishes, from seafood delicacies to savory meats, prepared with finesse and creativity. The intimate and sophisticated ambiance complements the culinary experience, making it an ideal choice for special occasions or romantic evenings. Breakfast at Maia is a must as you enjoy the soothing ocean breeze with your morning coffee. Maia’s commitment to exceptional service, a carefully curated wine list, and a picturesque setting make it a sought-after dining destination, providing you with a memorable and refined taste of the Mediterranean on Marco Island.
Little Bar Restaurant, Goodland
Nestled in the charming fishing village of Goodland, Florida, Little Bar Restaurant is a hidden culinary gem that exudes Old Florida charm and coastal elegance. For over 43 years, this waterfront restaurant has offered a delightful dining experience, combining fresh seafood, classic American dishes, and an authentic laid-back atmosphere. With panoramic views of the water, Little Bar captures the essence of coastal dining, providing a picturesque backdrop for patrons. The menu features a wide range of seafood delicacies, from succulent stone crab claws and perfectly grilled Grouper to perfectly prepared soft shell crab. The casual yet upscale ambiance makes it ideal for both casual outings and special occasions. Live music, friendly service, and a superb cocktail menu complement the dining experience, making Little Bar Restaurant a beloved destination for both locals and visitors seeking a taste of coastal Florida in the heart of Goodland.
Doreen’s Cup of Joe, Marco Island
A beloved local eatery Doreen’s Cup of Joe exudes warmth and nostalgia. This quaint café is renowned for its delicious breakfast and lunch offerings, served with a side of friendly smiles. You can relish classic American comfort food, including fluffy pancakes, hearty omelets, and mouthwatering sandwiches, all prepared with a dash of homemade flair. The atmosphere at Doreen’s is cozy and welcoming, with a touch of vintage charm, making it a favorite gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re starting your day with a cup of joe or enjoying a leisurely meal, Doreen’s is a delightful culinary haven on Marco Island.
Where To Stay:
JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Marco Island
The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is a premier luxury destination nestled along the pristine shores of Marco Island. This opulent resort offers a harmonious blend of breathtaking natural beauty and world-class hospitality. Guests are welcomed into a paradise where relaxation and indulgence are paramount. With its beachfront location, the resort boasts panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, providing a serene backdrop for an unforgettable escape. Accommodations range from elegantly appointed rooms to spacious suites and beachfront villas, all meticulously designed to provide utmost comfort and style. Culinary delights are a highlight, with numerous dining options ranging from fine seafood and steaks to authentic Italian and Asian cuisine. The resort’s commitment to excellence extends to its array of amenities, including a rejuvenating spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, and multiple pools.