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Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

MIssouri
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96 posts
13 reviews
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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!

Cleveland, Ohio
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638 posts
104 reviews
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11. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

For what it's worth, when we were at Marco....the condo's on the beach didn't really bother me. We also have stayed in Panama City Beach and that is truly High Rise. Although we stayed in a gorgeous condo with the most beautiful views and we really enjoyed it. I kind of feel like Marco sits between Sanibel and Panama City in terms of condo lined beaches. Although there are some on the beach, it's a perfect compromise (in my opinion) and offer a variety of choices for everyone without completely offending different preferences.

Wisconsin
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for Marco Island
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1,262 posts
58 reviews
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12. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

I have been to all three also. I have been to all three recently too. Prefer Marco but the other are not a bad choice.

Marco is not "swimming with people." Plus, the beach is long and wide. You just do not feel the crowds on the beach even during peak time at Easter. The island is VERY bike friendly. The Island Bike Shop will deliver and pick up very nice and well maintained bikes. There are designated bike lanes on the island. Plus, you can even bike on the sidewalks.

Swimming on the beach is great. My kids love it. Shelling on the island is great. You will not be disappointed with the shelling. There are no golf carts on the island.

The restaurants on the island are family friendly and casual. You can find restaurants on the island for almost any price point.

There are many options for lodging and at all price points.

Nearby golf courses are easy to find and are nice.

Marco island
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107 posts
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13. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Having lived on Marco for over 20 years, I do love it. However when a quick getaway is needed we head for Boca and always stay at the anchor inn ( golf carts are available) it's a 2 hour drive to a different world. There's not a single traffic signal on the island, only mom & pop stores. Also there's a three story height limit on the island so when you go to the beach it's all beach no condos. Family favorite are the late night golf cart rides. We decorate the golf cart with glow sticks (dollar store) and have a great time.

Placida, Florida
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24 posts
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14. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Skip Marco and Sanibel and give Boca Grande a try....everything on your wish list with fewer crowds and no high-rises. Most rental condos are right ON the beach....and a beautiful beach it is. To get a pool, it is best to rent a condo...a pool is usually not a priority for many because the beaches are so beautiful. There are great restaurants in Boca Grande and a charming little downtown area with shops and galleries. A couple on-island grocery stores, golf cart and bike rentals in a very tranquil, peaceful environment. My family vacationed there for years because Boca Grande is one of the closest spots to "old Florida" you can find. Of course, if you want to be REALLY adventurous, try Little Gasparilla Island...next island north of Boca Grande. You can only get there by water taxi but the resultant lack of crowds is worth the extra effort. There are no roads, no traffic, quiet golf cart paths and lots of nature....manatees and dolphins, shore birds and turtles.....a real step back in time. NO commercial establishments at all on the island...just private homes to rent. Fabulous pristine beach, gentle waves, very safe and kids love the freedom.

Knoxville
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3,294 posts
14 reviews
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15. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

One consideration: If you are planning on boating at all, you will probably want to go to Marco or Naples. That area is the known as the 10,000 islands & is FULL of BEAUTIFUL deserted islands you can hang out on for an hour, a day, or overnight if you choose! No other destination can give you that.

Lexington, Kentucky
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52 reviews
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16. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

When you said Marco Island is swarming with people, I knew I had to reply. Being at Marco Island beaches in the weekend can get crazy if you're going certain places, but it's overall a nice town, not too urban. Those highrise buildings are at the southern end of the island, near "South Beach". That is my least favorite beach there, do to the crowds, people drinking, and loud stereos that disrupt me from the relaxation from the beach. At the northern tip of the island, there is a great beach called "Tigertail Beach." The most people I've ever seen there were, like, 30. They were all quiet, either watching the lagoon wildlife or shelling at low tide. A few were fishing or snorkeling. At dusk small gatherings of people typically wade out to the sand bar and shell. There are the most diverse and unique shells and wildlife there, I saw an Atlantic Stingray and some mullet, as well as many sheepshead and pilchard in the lagoon if you can fish. The lagoon is a little swampy area you can wade across to get to the beach, or you can walk around. Walking to Tigertail beach was no problem no matter from what part of the island you're on. The length is about 4-6 miles, and at night there was almost no one out and no noise. As you walk there are labyrinths of canals, also nice places to fish. I saw Sheepshead, Cow nose Rays, Pilchards, and jellies in the canal just looking from the small bridges. If you rent a place near the canal like my family did it's HEAVEN. All in all it leads up to a lot of walking and managing to be smart and go to the right places, but Marco Island would be worth it to me. I haven't been to Sanibel OR Boca Grande, so don't jump to conclusions, they sound like nice places to. This is just what I think about Marco Island, I've been there twice for long periods of time and I always found something great to do.

By the way, there are also great things to do in Naples, nearby. Tigertail beach is rated so low because of all the walking. Look at Marco Review's sight for Things to Do there, Thanks!)

Edited: 4:25 pm, October 19, 2013
Dayton, OH / Marco...
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for Marco Island, Everglades National Park, Goodland
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4,026 posts
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17. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Just a comment on troll's coming to the Marco forum. IMO 80% don't have a good insight into what Marco has to offer. They may know their favorite vacation town but they don't know a town/Marco they are comparing. So a reader must take the troll opinion with a grain of salt.

When comparing Marco with other towns consider:

- Marco is not crowded ... if a person goes to public access South Beach on a weekend during peak season expect to consider others near you .... if you rent a condo at the same time ... don't expect anyone near you to hear your music ... in my rental breach condo there are only max 6 groups of beach goers at the peak of use ... the condo beach is ALWAYS empty

- Marco is peaceful, the beach is very long

- Keewaydin beach is north of Marco, Kice beach is south of Marco, both accessible only by boat, Kice is one of the closest spots to "old Florida" you can find. Of course, if you want to be REALLY adventurous, try Keewaydin Island...next island north of Marco. You can only get there by water taxi/boat but the resultant lack of crowds is worth the extra effort. There are no roads, no traffic, no golf cart paths and lots of nature....manatees and dolphins, shore birds and turtles.....a real step back in time. NO commercial establishments at all on the island...just private homes to rent. Fabulous pristine beach, gentle waves, very safe and kids love the freedom."

Lexington, Kentucky
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49 posts
52 reviews
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18. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

No, I wasn't trolling Marco Island. It was my opinion when I was there on a weekend. You're probably more experienced, though, so sorry if that's what you thought.

Knoxville
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3,294 posts
14 reviews
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19. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

Clay- I think most of what you said is dead on accurate and not a bad view of Marco at all. The only thing I personally disagreed with was the statement about South Marco Beach being crowded. We are USUALLY there in the summer (although we have been our fair share in December), and it is rarely crowded or loud. Don't get me wrong, it is a beach with plenty of people, but NOTHING like Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, Destin, etc. in my opinion. When we go to South Marco, we walk a short distance to the point between the jetties and find a nice, relaxing part of the beach with VERY few people. You are right that Tigertail is the more peaceful of the two - it attracts the more active crowd that doesn't mind crossing the lagoon and TENDS to be more focused on the nature aspect of the beach. Your comments were good ones, and probably not what MarcoRed was referring to.

yorkshire
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20. Re: Marco Island, Sanibel or Boca Grande?

I, for one absolutely can't wait to return to marco in December. We found it quite by accident a few years ago, and fell in love with the place..

Hope it's still as beautiful.... As we remember...