Adventures on the Paradise Coast
From beachfront to bayside, the Paradise Coast has plenty of adventures for you to discover. In a destination where there is truly something for everyone, you can embark on a shuttle to a tropical island to play with your pet, paddle your way through epic nature preserves and waterways, immerse yourself in exotic animals and flowers, and shop until you literally drop right into your hotel’s gel-top mattress.
Adventures on the Water
Perhaps one of the best ways to experience the Paradise Coast is at the beach, surrounded by the emerald Gulf waters, white sand, and elegant resorts by the shore. Many of the public beaches also feature natural touches like colorful shells, sand dunes with tufted grasses, and birds like sandpipers and cranes. On the remote islands just offshore from Naples and Marco Island, you will find spectacular shells that have washed up on their beaches during a storm. Private shelling tours are available from local knowledgeable guides, who can also point out amazing sights like dolphins! Day Star Charters offers a custom tour that runs through Naples’ waterways and then anchors at a nearby island for swimming, sunbathing and shelling. Pricing is based on an hourly rate, so pack a lunch and make it a day of island fun.
While you could lounge around on the beach looking absolutely fabulous in the resort wear you just bought on your shopping spree (see Shopping Adventures below) the beaches of the Paradise Coast offer lots of opportunities for play. In fact, even your dog can enjoy the beach on Keewaydin Island, a beautiful eight-mile-long barrier island between Naples and Marco Island that is accessible only by boat and is also a choice site for destination weddings. The Hemingway Water Shuttle can take you there, departing seven times a day for trips that drop you off at Keewaydin out of Rose Marina on Marco Island (the shuttle is also pet-friendly).
Don’t let your pet friend have all the fun - get our on the water and do some exploring for yourself! Your adventures could take you on an airboat ride through the Everglades, paddling among the Isles of Capri or parasailing off Vanderbilt Beach.
The Naples Kayak Company is conveniently located in the Venetian Village, right on the bay, and provides eco tours, lessons, and more to help you explore the Paradise Coast via its waters. They Naples Paddleboard caters to anyone interested in this increasingly popular sport, with rentals and tours available along with beach chairs and umbrellas.
Your need for speed can be satisfied with one of the many adrenaline-pumping adventures available on the Paradise Coast! Take a wild ride on an airboat through the Paradise Coast’s most famous nature parks, Big Cypress and the Everglades. Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours will take you on a heart-pounding trip across the Everglades waters, putting you on the lookout for unique plants and animals, including the infamous alligator - they also have an animals and alligators show! Soar high above the waters of Naples and Marco Island during a parasail ride with Naples Beach Water Sports, where you’ll gracefully ascend in the air during a solo, double, or triple ride and see fish and manatee below while tropical birds fly alongside you.
Water and beachfront resorts abound on the Paradise Coast. The Naples Grande Beach Resort offers not only stunning water views, but also a complete luxury experience that extends from their opulent guest rooms and suites to their three miles of manicured powdery white sand and beach loungers for guests. You have your choice of palatial suites that range in size and amenities, although we must suggest you take advantage of their rooms featuring double balconies as the views surrounding the resort are incredible. Enjoy several pools, golf and tennis, spa and wellness, and of course first-class beach service.
The Paradise Coast and Collier County have some of the most incredible nature adventures for you to experience, including several preserves and the magnificent Everglades. Here, you can experience not only the beauty and serenity of nature, but also the special moment of viewing wildlife in their natural habitats and homes. One of these thriving environments teeming with wildlife is the Big Cypress National Preserve. Big Cypress is located in some of the most rugged terrain in the state, encompassing approximately 729,000 acres of a freshwater swamp ecosystem. The preserve is free to visit, and offers Ranger-led or self-guided swamp walks, canoe and kayak trips, bike rides and other special activities and events throughout the year. You can camp out for more time to enjoy the experiences, including children’s programs, bicycling, birding, and even hunting. Another state treasure is the Everglades National Park, which consists of 1.5 million acres of wetland, and there are three separate entrances to the park spread across South Florida. Each area hosts a wide range of activities. You can take a stroll on the trails to spot wildlife, travel Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak, explore the pinelands by bike, or join a ranger on a slough slog into a cypress dome. Or find absolute solitude on your own week-long canoe trip, camping along the Wilderness Waterway.
Among the Paradise Coast’s parks are all kinds of adventures awaiting you, and you need to be equipped! Fortunately for you, there are many kinds of outfitters in the area, as well as experienced guide services and organized tours to help you on your way. Everglades Adventure Tours will take you on an unforgettable trip through the park’s most intimate places on a pole boat tour, the original method used for touring the Everglades since the park was first founded.
A different way to explore nature and meet animal friends is on a trip to the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. The zoo’s path winds through a historic tropical garden planted in 1919, highlighting exotic animals along the way as well as children’s recognizable favorites like animals like lions, giraffes, monkeys, pythons, and bears. Feature exhibits introduce you to rare animals like the fosa of Madagascar or a giant anteater. Further interaction with nature and animals comes with zoo programs like the Primate Expedition Cruise or the Alligator Bay Hand-Feeding, as well as meeting keepers and learning more about how they care for the animals.
One of the most magical experiences with nature that you can have is at the Naples Botanical Garden, a 170-acre world class garden paradise that features plants from around the globe in different sections for you to explore. The garden’s award-winning horticultural design welcomes you to explore banyan trees, bamboo, and groves of tropical Asian edibles amongst a re-created temple ruin; or visit the Water Garden, where floating lillies and an enchanting boardwalk featuring a soundstage where visitors can see everything from jazz and tribute bands to special performances. Perhaps the most popular area to spend time is the whimsical Smith Children’s Garden, a delight for the senses with a cute cottage, colorful patterns of blooms, fountains, and a butterfly house.
Sleep in the serenity of nature with a stay in one of the Paradise Coast’s campgrounds or RV parks - which often offer a little more luxury than your typical outdoor accommodations. In fact, Lake San Marino RV Resort is proud to provide a stunning array of amenities, letting you lounge by the pool, cast your line off the pier of their private fishing lake, or get a game of shuffleboard together with a group of friends or neighbors. Lake San Marino also offers a variety of planned activities like catered dinner dances, woodworking, bingo, pancake breakfasts and much more. The resort is within a short drive of the Paradise Coast’s beaches, as well as the bustling atmosphere of downtown Naples. More importantly to the outdoors lover, the resort is close to all of the Coast’s beautiful nature parks like Big Cypress and the Everglades.
Adventures in History
While this area is certainly fast-paced and modern in many ways, the Paradise Coast has a rich history of which its community is very proud. The Collier County Museum at Government Center in Naples will walk you through nearly 10,000 years of Paradise Coast history, from the Paleoindians and mastodons through the settlements of the Calusa and Seminole Indians, and the first pioneers to Southwest Florida. This museum is one of several Collier County Museums; on The Marco Island Historical Museum houses artifacts of all kinds, including the Key Marco Cat Carving that now resides at the Smithsonian. Visit the rest of the Collier County Museum locations to learn even more: the Naples Depot in downtown Naples, the Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch, and the Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City.
The Holocaust Museum and Education Center offers a memorable and thought-provoking journey through time as you explore photographs, artifacts, and exhibits that tell the story of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. The museum houses over 1,000 World War II and Holocaust artifacts and original photographs displayed chronologically from the rise of Nazism to Allied Liberation and the Nuremberg Trials. Many of the artifacts have been donated or permanently loaned by local survivors, liberators and other dedicated people. Daily docent-led tours of the Museum are available to visitors at no extra charge. Self-guided tours, via a free app for mobile devices or using a museum tablet are also offered.
A tour with a twist is available with Naples Trolley Tours, where you’ll board a refurbished historic trolley to explore downtown Naples. Trolley guides will show you points of interest and tell stories of Naples’ past and present.
In the heart of Naples’ historic district, “Old Naples,” you’ll find The Escalante hotel. Tucked away in the historic neighborhood amidst towering oaks and palms, The Escalante is a romantic hideaway at the far end of the street Fifth Ave South, just steps from the Gulf of Mexico. A sophisticated small inn, they provide expert service to make you feel like a real VIP. Lounge in the pool-centered courtyard surrounded by a natural privacy fence of thick tropical foliage, enjoy their gardens, or relax on your own private verandah. Their restaurant, Veranda E, is the only fine dining restaurant in Naples with its own on-premises sustainable organic garden and offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Some people choose to shop here as a way to spend time while their travel partners play golf; others come to Naples specifically for its world class shopping opportunities. One of the most popular choices for shopaholics is Fifth Avenue South, which combines timeless charm with downtown chic. Walk down the tree-lined promenade to find fashion boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, cafes coffee and ice cream shops, antique stores, art galleries, gift stores, jewelers, home furnishing and design showrooms, beauty salons, hotels, bookstores, apartments, realtors, travel agencies, and more. This is also the home of several entertainment venues that offer a cultured evening with shows at the Gulfshore Playhouse, and Naples Players, Inc., so tell your partner to meet up with you after golf!
Not too far away is a different shopping experience: The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, ocated right on the dazzling waterfront of Naples. Here you can enjoy the bay breezes and warm sunshine as you explore the shops and eateries; this is also the home of the Park Shore Marina, if you should feel the call of the water and want to charter a boat for a little excursion on the waves.
Another set of bayside shops with a completely different vibe is Tin City, which exudes the rustic charm of Old Florida in its laidback architecture. Don’t be fooled by its relaxed attitude - Tin City has a serious lineup of shops for you to explore, from the scents of Naples Soap Co. to the tastes of The Naples Winery outlet store. Find fashion for everyone in the family, as well as home accessories and art pieces. Restaurants and eateries delight the tastebuds, while PURE Florida Naples offers cruises on the bay.
You won’t have far to carry your shopping bags when you stay at the The Bayfront Inn 5th Ave., which is just steps away from Fifth Avenue South shops. This luxurious hotel features luxe tropical decor and breathtaking views of Naples Bay. Guest rooms and suites are outfitted with the best in televisions, gel-top mattresses, and massaging shower heads; but if you can manage to drag yourself out of your room, the hotel also offers a heated pool and spa replete with hushing waterfall and tropical drinks to order. Guests have access to a 12-slip marina where they can dock their own boat, or take advantage of the marina's charter services, boat rentals, Segway tours, kayak and bicycle rentals.