Monday, March 31, 2014

Port of Call: Marco Island, Florida

The calendar says it's spring, but it sure feels like winter (frost warning last night and temperature was 37 degrees F this morning in Chattanooga). This winter has been the coldest and longest in our seven years here in Tennessee.

We're lucky to have family and friends living in Florida. Every winter, we dutifully make our pilgrimage south to visit with them (thanks for having us, folks!) We returned from such a trip about two weeks ago. While in Marco Island, our friends told us that their island was voted the number 1 Best island in the U.S. by TripAdvisor's 2014 Traveler's Choice. Like all lists, we don't know who these people are and how they go about rating and ranking them. Personally, we love Anna Maria Island, Nantucket and Hilton Head,  number 3, 8 and 9 on the list, respectively. Heard a lot of great things about Hawaiian islands, and there were several on the list. Anyway, the accolade was bittersweet for our friends because they hate to see more traffic on their beloved island.
Beaches of Marco Island
While we're not in love with Marco Island, we do love the beauty and the abundance of nature and wildlife in the area. I'll never forget the times we cruised there and anchored at Factory Bay. The entrance to Factory Bay is shallow in the middle (sailors beware!). We had to pull a sailboat off the sandbar as we were coming in to anchor here one February over ten years ago (I tell ya, time flies when you're having fun).
Looking at bridge to Marco Island from Factory Bay anchorage
Our friend's boat Island Time entering Factory Bay
Mai Thai anchored at Factory Bay

Captain took the dinghy over to meet our friends on Island Time.
On another cruise to Marco, we met up with our boater-turned-RV friend, who gave us a tour of Goodland (also very shallow) in his center cockpit, followed by an awesome lunch at Old Marco Lodge (free docking). When we returned to our boat, we found it swarmed with gnats, tiny black bugs that didn't bite, but was just gross. We spent the entire evening trying to kill them.
Dolphin sighting are common in the bay and around the canals
Hopefully, spring will be here soon, and we can get outside to do some hiking and boating.

What's your favorite U.S. island?

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