After our jam-packed week on Key West we headed west on Alligator Alley to Marco Island. Here we checked in to the Crystal Shores Marriott which we planned to use as our base for relaxation. Our plans for the entire week were to walk the beach, enjoy the hotel and then walk the beach some more.
Crystal Shores Marriott
The Crystal Shores Marriott is smaller than most Marriott resorts and thus has a more intimate flavor than larger resorts. (Note: They are building a new addition to Crystal Shores so it remains to be seen if it retains its small-resort flavor.) The hotel is located on an ideal section of South Marco Beach giving us access to over 3 miles of beautiful sand beach. The hotel has two large pools and an onsite restaurant (Stilts). There are free activities every night including whiskey tasting, chocolate tasting, Monday night football and more! They also had live music virtually every night. This hotel was a perfect fit for our needs. (Note, Marriott isn’t one of our sponsors, this was simply a great hotel.)
Scoops and Pods
Our room fronted the Gulf and the water was perfectly calm on the day we checked in. This was awesome in that we could see pods of dolphins from our balcony…we saw so many dolphins we lost count. Seeing the dolphins from the room was cool, but we wanted a closer view so we quickly headed to the beach to start walking, watching and shelling. The weather was perfect with a slight breeze, calm seas, dolphins jump and scoops of pelicans. Yep, scoops….groups of pelicans are called scoops.
That night we sat on our balcony with our drinks and watched a wonderful sunset. Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t seem to matter how many sunsets you’ve seen; each one is worth our marvel and wonder. It’s kind of like watching fireworks and “oohing” and “aahing” every year.
The next morning was equally ideal and we walked the beach looking for shell treasures and delighting in the pods and scoops. There must have been a lot of feeder fish in the area which brought in the dolphins and pelicans because they were simply everywhere!
That evening a big storm rolled in and it rained all night and all the next day. This didn’t bother us a bit as it fit perfectly with our plans of relaxing. Instead of beaching, we watched the storm from our balcony and later we made a run for the nearby Publix to stock up with picnic food to munch on while we continued to enjoy the storm. By now, I’m sure you’re getting the picture of our week on Marco….simple relaxation.
Next morning we got up early to hit the beach and do some shelling. In Florida the best shelling is after a storm and this was indeed the case here. We picked up treasure after treasure, whelks, conchs, scallops, augers and even a few sand dollars. The dolphins and pelicans were gone, but who cared when we could find all these shells!
Our visit was during the off season (late September) so there were virtually no crowds and no lines. That’s good, but it also meant that many of the restaurants were closed for the season. That was okay for us since we really had no plans to dine out much…instead, we picnicked on our balcony.
However, we made one exception. A friend of ours from Utah, Ileana, had recently visited Marco and she highly recommended the Marker 8.5 restaurant in Woodland, about six miles from our resort. The restaurant sits right on the water and has awesome blackened shrimp and a has great all-day happy hour. It’s hard to beat!
So there you go. Beaching, eating, shelling, swimming, music…next day: repeat. Not a very exciting week, but sometimes we just love to kick back and be beach bums, but with an awesome hotel to stay in, of course!
Here’s a great resource for all things Marco Island: MarcoIslandVisitor
As I said, we loved the Crystal Shores Marriott. Here’s a link to their site: Crystal Shores