Just off the coast of southwest Florida, you’ll find a tranquil string of islands and mangrove islets called the Ten Thousand Islands.
This natural wonder is situated about 15 miles away from Naples and at the edge of the beautiful Everglades National Park. It’s a perfect retreat for the adventurous traveler longing for a unique experience.
From eco excursions to charming downtown strolls, you’ll fall in love with the Ten Thousand Islands! Read on to discover our top 11 ways to enjoy this beautiful area!
1. Take a Jet Ski Tour Through the Mangroves
Join us for a one-of-a-kind jet ski journey through the Ten Thousand Islands. We offer 2-hour tours and guaranteed dolphin sighting. You’ll see Cape Romano, the Dome Home, the Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island, and parts of the Everglades. Cruise the United State’s largest mangrove forest in style with Wow! Marco Island Jet Ski Tours and Rentals!
2. Hunt for Treasure On a Seashell Finding Tour
The Ten Thousand Islands are famed for its array of rare and spectacular seashells. There are a handful of companies that offer professionally guided tours to lead you to the best shelling spots around. Take home sand dollars, whelk shells, scallops, and even the highly sought-after Junonia shells.
3. Kayak Through the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
This pristine area is comprised of narrow waterways snaking through hundreds of mangrove islets. It’s the only federal land in the United States dedicated to wildlife and serves as nursery grounds for a diverse array of plants and animals. Rent a kayak and weave through the area to catch a glimpse of manatees, alligators, herons, and more!
4. Take a Guided Eco-tour
If you’d rather have a more structured look at the local flora and fauna, you can take a guided boat tour. Naturalists will take you to the best wildlife viewing spots and teach you about the Everglades along the way. An eco-tour is a great way to get an intimate look at the area and its unique natural beauty.
5. Go to Marco Island Historical Museum
The Ten Thousand Islands is rich in Native American history. As far back as 6,000 years ago, the Calusa Indians took advantage of the abundance of natural resources this area had to offer.
Due to conflicts with other tribes and diseases introduced by European settlers, they sadly reduced. But they left behind an abundance of artifacts and several ancient burial mounds.
Learn about their legacy at the Marco Island Historical Museum. From the world-famous Key Marco Cat to an immersive life-size Calusa Village, you’ll feel like you stepped back in history. And the best part? Admission is free!
6. Visit the Dolphins
The Ten Thousand Islands is home to a myriad of animals. It’s not a rare occurrence to encounter dolphins playing along the shore. Get a closer look and learn a thing or two on a guided tour to the best dolphin viewing spots in the area.
7. Spend a Day in Marco Island’s Downtown Area
Marco Island is alive with live music, a rich art scene, and local businesses to explore. You can spend an entire day weaving through free art galleries or shopping around. There are tons of great local eateries to try out too!
8. Take a Fishing Trip
Catch everything from redfish to snappers on a guided fishing tour. You’ll get to take in the beauty of the waterways and islets of the Ten Thousand Islands and have an inside look at where the best fishing spots are. There are several companies in the area that offer chartered trips.
9. Take a Walk Through History
Step into the 19th Century at Captain Horr’s Pineapple Plantation Historic Site. This free attraction was once at the center of a bustling city. Today it’s more of a trek to visit. Plan a visit to see the ruins of Captain John Foley Horr’s home. The walls are made of shells and mortar and are teeming with local wildlife.
10. Camp on the Beach
Paddle out to Tiger Key or Picnic Key for a secluded camping experience like you’ve never experienced before! There’s no need to book a reservation to these sites but, if you’re camping from around mid-November to mid-April you’ll need to secure a $15 permit and $2 per person camp pass ahead of time. Call the Flamingo or Gulf Coast Visitor Centers to get yours.