The Naples area is known as the 'Paradise Coast' for a reason - a Naples getaway is always a good idea.
By Kara Franker
There's a reason it's called the Paradise Coast and the setting is perfect for romantic getaways in Naples, Florida. Think sunset champagne toasts, a massage for two and secluded island beaches.
In Naples, you can't help but feel a blush of romance with those swaying palms and shell-strewn white-sand beaches always in the background. The Travel Channel has called Naples America's Best All-Around Beach and Condé Nast Traveler magazine has put Naples in their top 20. It's even been anointed by the ultimate authority, Stephen Leatherman: "Dr. Beach" himself.
Beaches ranges from secluded coves to the wide stretches of white sand. Some beaches are steps away from glittering hotels and chic shopping districts, while others can be discovered only by boat.
The beaches of Old Naples are easily accessible from many east-west avenues, with metered parking. The major beachfront hotels of Naples and Marco Island offer an array of beach rentals, activities and live music as people gather for the daily sunset ritual.
Several state and county parks offer ample parking with beach access. Here's just a sampling of area parks you can visit:
- Lowdermilk Park: An active family beach with lush lawns, picnic tables, a gazebo and snack pavilion.
- Clam Pass Park: A complimentary tram ride through the mangroves gets you there. Rentals, snack bar, boardwalks and stunning views.
- Vanderbilt Beach: Adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort. A favorite gathering place for young people.
- Barefoot Beach Preserve: On Little Hickory Island at Naples' northern tip. Picnic area, concessions, nature trail, showers and rentals.
- Naples Municipal Pier: Concessions and bait shop, showers and restrooms. Superb fishing.
- Tigertail Beach on Marco Island, the largest of the Ten Thousand Islands. With the widest beach on the Paradise Coast, it has a snack bar, playground, kayak and paddleboat rentals and 32 acres of parkland.
- The Other 9,999 Islands: Start with a shelling trip to Cape Romano, a visit to the sandy tip of unspoiled Keewaydin Island and a walk on the white sands of Pavilion Key in Everglades National Park. The only footprints in the sand may be your own.
On the Water
Escape civilization for some time for just the two of you. Naples Bay Resort rents easy-to-operate boats, equipped with a Garmin GPS and a GPS tracking system that will take you right to Keewaydin Island, which, like Marco, is one of the Ten Thousand Islands that sweep south to the Everglades. The island boasts a handful of structures, many of them used as weekend fishing cottages. You're bound to have the entire beach to yourselves. The resort will even pack a picnic lunch for you, including champagne.
The Naples Princess, a 149-passenger yacht, has an air-conditioned dining room and an open-air upper deck that's perfect for soaking in the passing scenery–the Gulf, the mansions of Naples' Port Royal neighborhood, the mangrove-fringed islands and a starry night.
Beyond the Beach: Discover Restaurants, Spas and Shopping
Plan your day around the sun and sea, but don't miss the charm of Old Naples. Here, sidewalk bistros, museums, theaters, art galleries, upscale boutiques, fine restaurants and day spas share space along palm-lined avenues. At night, indulge in the pastime of "strolling the avenues" (Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South) beneath white-lighted trees.
Located at the luxurious Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites, a fine-dining restaurant called 5th Avenue South, is serving lunch and dinner to a crowd of Naples’ own socialites, business clientele and visiting travelers. It's the perfect locale for a romantic dinner for two.
At the eastern end of Fifth Avenue South are two must-see destinations. Come by car or boat to Bayfront, a Mediterranean-style village on Naples Bay that houses some of Naples' finest restaurants and galleries, and a lively bar built over the water.
Find the opposite of polished Bayfront just over the bridge at quaint, colorful Tin City, where an eclectic collection of shops and eateries are connected by waterfront boardwalks. (From here you can book your fishing charters and sightseeing cruises.)
Dinner and a show is never a cliché here, especially when it involves the symphony or a Broadway show at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts (dinner is by reservation only, so call ahead for availability).
When you go...
For more information on planning your beach getaway to Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, call 800-688-3600 or visit ParadiseCoast.com.