Last Updated on November 4, 2022
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If you’re looking for a great place to lay out a towel and relax, get into the ocean, or stroll the beach looking for shells, one of the public beaches in Marco Island will be perfect.
This post will go over the two main beaches on the island as well as a few nearby ones that visitors enjoy.
Located in southern Florida, just off of the coast, Marco Island is a beautiful place to visit on the Gulf Coast.
It’s the largest of Florida’s popular barrier island chain, the Ten Thousand Islands, and is just a 30 minutes drive south of Naples and just 45 minutes north of Everglades National Park.
Marco Island is home to beautiful beaches, mangrove forests, and fascinating wildlife.
There are two public beaches located on Marco Island, as well as a few access points that are private.
Along with these two spots, known as Tigertail Beach and South Beach, there are a few public beaches in the surrounding towns, such as Naples.
Best Public Beaches In Marco Island
1. Tigertail Beach
Tigertail Beach is the most popular in Marco Island because of its unique nature and chances to go shelling, see shorebirds, and relax in the sun.
It also has some of the best sunset viewings in the state, so be sure to stay and watch as the sun goes down.
Navigating Tigertail Beach
Many would say that there are technically two beaches here, one of which requires a bit of navigating through a lagoon to reach, but that’s what makes it so unique and fun!
The first beach offers views of Sand Dollar Island, where the other beach is located, as well as close proximity to the rentals and other amenities.
If you want to get out to the official Tigertail Beach, where you’ll find soft, white sand, you’ll need to wade through the lagoon.
Try your best to make it to the beach at low tide, as this makes crossing the tidal lagoon much easier, especially when you’re carrying any of your belongings.
You’ll likely see others crossing, so just try to follow the crowd until you’ve made it across, where you’ll then take a short sandy path down to the beach!
Another option is to park in the lot and then walk around the lagoon, but this is going to take you quite a bit more time.
Cost To Visit
There is no cost to visit Tigertail Beach except for the parking fee, which is $8 per vehicle, per day, which you can pay for at the pay stations.
If you’re just staying for a short period, you can also pay $1.50 per hour to park at Tigertail Beach.
The parking lot is large, with over 200 parking spaces available, and is located right on Hernando Drive.
Wildlife To See
When you’re visiting Tigertail Beach, you’re likely to see a large variety of shorebirds, as the beach is along Florida’s Birding Trail.
Sand Dollar Island is a popular nesting area for birds such as Least Terns and Snowy Plovers. You also might spot an osprey or pelican diving for a meal, or peregrine falcons in the winter months.
Keep an eye out offshore, as there are often pods of dolphins jumping around in the ocean. And let out a sigh of relief that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll run into an alligator while you’re crossing the lagoon.
Things To Do At Tigertail Beach
During your visit to Tigertail Beach, there is plenty to do to keep you and the entire family busy including just taking time to relax on the sand!
If you’d prefer to play, check out some of the rental options including kayaks, paddleboards, or jet skis.
This beach is also one of the best shelling beaches in Florida, along with some of the other Ten Thousand Islands. Search for sand dollars and small pink shells along the shoreline.
It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset over the ocean after a long day of adventuring.
Restrooms and bathhouse
Water sport rentals
Beach chair and umbrella rentals
Rentable handicapped beach wheelchair
2. South Marco Beach
Located about 3 miles south of Tigertail Beach at the southern tip of Marco Island, you’ll find South Marco Beach, which is the other public beach on the island.
This beach is much easier to navigate, but you’ll also find that it is much busier than others, because of how easy it is to get to.
South Beach is still just as beautiful, featuring soft, white sand and chances to swim and see wildlife.
Cost To Visit
The only fee to visit South Marco Beach is an $8 parking fee, which can be paid for at the meters that you’ll find in the spacious parking lot.
Convenient parking is located right along Swallow Avenue and South Collier Boulevard, just a short walk from the beach, and parking is not allowed on the streets around the beach.
Wildlife To See
Similarly to Tigertail Beach, you might see dolphins splashing out in the ocean while you relax on the beach.
Shorebirds are often seen soaring high above, such as Black Skimmers and Least Terns. There also might be an osprey or eagle, if you’re lucky!
People also enjoy finding shells along the beach, but a reminder that it is illegal to take live shells home.
Things To Do At South Beach
One of the best ways to spend your time at South Marco Beach is to just stroll along the shore, searching for beautiful shells and sand dollars.
While you walk along the beach, watch out for marine life out in the ocean such as dolphins.
There aren’t any rentals at the beach, but there are a few other rental shops where you can get paddleboards or kayaks and bring them to the beach.
Public parking lot
Close access to a quick-serve grille
3. Keewaydin Island Beach
While Tigertail Beach and South beach are the only two public beaches actually in Marco Island, there are others nearby that are worth visiting, such as Keewaydin Island Beach!
Keewaydin Island is another of Florida’s barrier islands, located between Naples and Marco Island, just off the coast.
With a beautiful sandy beach that is seemingly untouched, visitors are able to fully enjoy their time and truly experience the beauty of Florida’s coastline.
This beach is definitely a bit harder to access, as it’s only accessible by boat, most commonly the Hemingway Water Shuttle.
Because of Keewaydin Island’s pristine beaches and nature, it’s become popular for those who are looking to escape the crowds of other easy-to-reach southwest Florida beaches.
Cost To Visit
The island is only accessible by boat and most people choose to take the Hemingway Water Shuttle, which charges a per-person fee.
The current fee for adults is $44 roundtrip and $22 roundtrip for children.
Besides the boat fee, there is no other cost to visit.
Wildlife To See
While you’re on the water shuttle to the island, you may spot dolphins, manatees, soaring birds, or other wildlife.
Keewaydin Island is also part of the Rookery Bay National Estuarian Research Reserve, which strives to provide a sanctuary for wildlife along the 8 miles of shoreline.
You might spot Least Terns and Loggerhead sea turtles nesting along the shore. But remember to keep your distance and respect the wildlife.
Things To Do At Keewaydin Island
One of the best things to do on Keewaydin Island is to just sit back and relax while you enjoy the beauty of one of southwest Florida’s best beaches. And being such a short distance from Marco Island makes it even better!
Also be sure to spend some time searching for local wildlife, as they’re likely to be all around you, you just have to keep an eye out!
Many boaters also visit the island, so you may be interested in booking a boat tour and exploring the island in that way instead!
Periodic food boat offering food, ice cream, and drinks
4. Naples Beach
Although quite a bit further away from the other public beaches that are found in Marco Island, Naples Beach is another beautiful choice if you have a bit of extra time.
Technically located in Naples, just under 20 miles from Marco Island, this beach has a large pier and miles of soft, white sand to explore.
Naples Pier is the focal point of the beach, and many people enjoy walking out on it and looking out into the ocean, while others enjoy casting a line to see if they can catch any fish.
This is one of the most popular beaches in Naples, so you’re likely to see many people during your visit, but it’s a very long beach, so you’re also able to spread yourself out a bit!
Cost To Visit
There are multiple parking areas to visit Naples Beach. These are just small areas at the end of the downtown avenues, closest to the water.
Typically they cost $3 per hour, which you can pay with either coins or a credit card.
Wildlife To See
When you’re up on the pier, you may spot marine life such as dolphins, fish, and stingrays down below or out into the ocean.
Since many people fish here, you also have the opportunity of taking a look at the type of fish that they’re catching!
Things To Do At Naples Beach
Of course one of the most popular activities at Naples Beach is to walk the pier and look for wildlife, such as dolphins and stingrays, that may be surfacing out in the ocean.
Others like to fish off of the pier, which is allowed for anyone to try out during all days that the park is open except for Sundays when fishing is not allowed at all.
While you’re in Naples, there are also some great boat tours to take, such as this Gulf of Mexico Sunset Cruise or this Naples Sightseeing Boat Tour.
Handicap beach wheelchair access
5. Marco Beach Public Beach Access
This access leads to Marco Beach but is located in the center of the island, rather than at the end.
It’s right off of South Collier Boulevard and is found right next to the Madeira Condominiums.
There aren’t many great parking options here unless you’re staying at one of the nearby hotels, but it is an option for a place to visit if you’re on foot, with just a short walk to the beach from the road.
There also are no amenities here, since it’s just beach access and not a parking area or anything.
FAQs- Marco Island Public Beaches
What Is The Most Popular Beach In Marco Island?
The most popular of the beaches in Marco Island is South Beach since it is very easy to access and offers nice views of the ocean.
Are Beaches Private In Marco Island?
While there are many private beaches in Marco Island that require a membership or a stay at a resort, there are two public beaches also.
Does Marco Island Have Public Beaches?
Yes, Marco Island has two public beaches- Tigertail Beach and South Marco Beach.
Are Marco Island Beaches Nice?
Yes, Marco Island’s beaches are some of the nicest in the state with beautiful, soft, white sand, opportunities to spot wildlife, and great amenities at most beaches.
Final Thoughts: Public Beaches in Marco Island
Whether you choose to visit Tigertail Beach, South Beach, or one of the other beautiful options on this list, it’s clear to see that there are some great options for you.
So no matter what you’re searching for, whether it be a relaxing day, some adventure on the water, or time spent searching for wildlife, you’ll find it all at these public beaches in Marco Island!
Looking for more to do nearby? Check out more of the most beautiful beaches in Southwest Florida!
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