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Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

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MIssouri
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96 posts
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Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

We recently visited Sanibel and loved it! We (family of four, kids 11 and 8) are planning another vacation for likely next June and my first instinct was back to Sanibel but hubby wants to try somewhere new. I was considering Boca Grande or Marco Island. I’m giving a short “wish” list based on our experience on Sanibel knowing many of you have experience with the others locations as well and might be able to offer some suggestions. I am also posting this on the other (MI and BG) forums.

Gentle surf, shallow water, great for kids

Prefer white sand beach

Biking everywhere was great, though golf carts might be better

Quiet, uncrowded beaches

Loved the restaurant options on Sanibel … we are casual, American fare eaters. Open a little later would be nice.

Local grocer a plus (we loved Jerry’s).

Laid back atmosphere (throw on a cover-up and grab a bite at a local restaurant)

Pool a must, slide or other options a plus.

Nearby golf course a plus (nothing fancy needed).

Condo or house doesn’t matter. At least 2 bedrooms required. On the beach a must. “Resort” atmosphere with more on property would be nice.

MI seems like a good option. But viewing the pictures online there seems to be so many high rise condos I worry the place is swarming with people. Is it bike friendly? Golf carts? If anyone has a recommendation, could you also share a lodging recommendation?

Thank You!

Knoxville
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1. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

You should be able to check off most boxes, except for the local grocer and the golf carts. Marco is usually very quiet and peaceful (except during the busy season, which is January - March), is bike friendly, and laid back. If you don't like hotels lining the beach, you probably wont like Marco, but we LOVE it!! That is the one complaint that I hear from Sanibel lovers - the hotels. The beach is long, wide, and white, but does have plenty of shells. I haven't ever stayed on Boca Grande, so this is all that I can advise you on!

London, United...
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2. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

If you are thinking of June, then you certainly wont find the beach, or anywhere else crowded. Plenty of really casual places to eat. Sundress and sandals is about as formal as it gets! Only 3 hotels are directly on the beach, the other high rise buildings are condos, not fully occupied at that time of year, so you should be able to rent something with direct beach access if you decide on Marco.

Knoxville
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3. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

One of the other benefits we enjoy about Marco is all the day trips that can be made IF you choose to. We have gone to Sanibel, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, the Everglades, and even the Keys on day trips. We are on the island for several weeks when we visit, so you might not want to do this if you only have a week, but you do have that option. We have friends that are very restless, so when they come down (even for a short period of time), that is one of the appealing aspects of staying on Marco. Don't get me wrong, though, Marco Island is AWESOME, and I don't think you have to go anywhere else to be content!:)

Edited: 12:26 pm, July 22, 2013
Dayton, OH / Marco...
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for Marco Island, Everglades National Park, Goodland
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4. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

How long do you plan to stay? A lengthy stay will lead you to a condo lease on Marco ... because the 3 hotels go for a premuim.

Saint James City...
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5. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Although you didn't mention it, have you considered Anna Maria Island? Very laid back, very few chain restaurants, I don't think any chain hotels.

Lots of casual restaurants. Nice beaches. Lots of rental options. Free trolley that runs most of the length of the island.

We split a trip between there and Captiva a couple years ago, it was a fun trip (although we had crappy weather).

MIssouri
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96 posts
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6. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Great information guys!

Jeanh, I'm going to have to check out Anna Maria ... others have mentioned that to me as well.

We will only be staying a short time, 5 days max.

7. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

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Marco island
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8. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Our family frequents Boca Grande, also have kids ( 11 & 8 ) we absolutely love it. It's real old Florida. We always stay at The Anchor inn, it's very well appointed and blocks from beach. The kids can't get enough of the golf cart rides ( night rides are the best ) plenty of free beach access. Check out their website, anchorinnbocagrande.com . What ever your choice, enjoy!!

Cleveland, Ohio
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9. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Our family has been to Sanibel and Marco. Haven't been to Boca Grande before. We are looking at a return trip to Marco this summer for a Month. Our last trip to Marco was 7 years ago (kids were 9 & 12) and last summer we did Sanibel. We chose to return to Marco rather than Sanibel. While we LOVED Sanibel, I think we LOVE Marco a little more!! Our family really enjoyed the shelling in Sanibel and we visited every beach in Sanibel and went to Captiva. While we liked it there are many things our kids enjoyed more about Marco.

First, we rented a house with our own pool when we went to Marco. This has + and -. The biggest plus being able to swim whenever we wanted too (including the adults after the kids went to bed). Of course, no beach view. For us, we find it worth it to give up the beach view for the privacy and 24/7 pool. We went in June and the beaches are not crowded at all. A lot less people on the beaches than there were in Sanibel (we went in June there too).

We did a fishing trip in both Sanibel and Marco. If you guys are into family fishing trips, then in my opinion, Marco is the better choice. I do not recall who we used for our trip in Marco, but he was superb! In Sanibel, we had to drive into Ft. Myers to do a trip. While the guy was nice, we very much enjoyed our Marco Island charter and caught a ton! The guy was great with the kids too! The girls still talk about that fishing trip (we have done 3, one in Marco, one in Sanibel and one in Key west (where we caught 3 huge Mahi Mahi) but the girls loved our Marco charter the best.

Although you can't ride golf carts around town, we rented the little cars (they remind me of dune buggies) for a few hours and drove around with the girls. They LOVED riding in them!! That was a huge hit with them!

The Marco Island movie theater is unlike no other we've been too. When we return this summer the girls will be 15 and 18 and they are excited to see a movie there again! It's pretty awesome. You get table service in the movies. You can order meals, snacks, beverages and they are all brought to you at your seat. My husband and I enjoyed a beer while watching a movie! The girls saw a kid movie at the same time as our adult movie. It was great and very memorable!

The burrowing owl's were a hit and we have tons of pics of them. They are sectioned off, but you can still view them respectfully. They are so cute!

There are many great food choices in Marco that are casual. Nearby is Naples and we did a trip there as well for even more dining choices. Trips to the Everglades are on our to do list this year. However, this year we plan to stay a month!! Also - its a lot less expensive (dining wise) than Sanibel Island was. Anyway....just thought I would mention some of the hits with my family. Sanibel and Marco are both beautiful (I'm sure Boca Grande is as well) so no matter where you choose, you can't really go wrong!! Good luck!!

UK
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for Florida
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10. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

I have been to all three.

I like Marco, but do think it could be a bit too igh rise for you now compared to Sanibel.

Boca grande is the town, the Island is Gasparilla. It could suit, but the sand although whiter than marco isn't as white as further north- but pretty whitish. Less shells than Sanibel, but has shark's teeth to compensate. Restaurants are casual, even though this is a Millionaire's playground. Local shop isn't much, i'd go over the bridge (at a cost) to Publix. Good fish market over the bridge too.

Seems to me that Anna Maria might suit as well.