Marco Island – Florida’s Coastal Paradise

Situated off the Gulf Coast of Florida, roughly 90 miles West of Miami and 150 miles South of Tampa Bay, lies Marco Island. Only 6 miles long and 4 miles wide, Marco is a little island that packs a seriously big punch. White sand beaches kissed by gentle rolling waves cast an enchanting spell on all who visit this gem in the diadem of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands.

Blessed with an abundance of sunshine, unspoiled parklands, and a tropical vibe that can’t be beat, Marco Island is a treasure just waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking to relocate to the South of Florida and are searching for a community that offers fine living with a laid-back sub-tropical flair, Marco Island may very well be the relocation destination you’ve been dreaming about. Continue reading about Marco Island >>.

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Land of Ten Thousand Dreams

Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands is a chain of barrier islands and mangrove inlets resting along the Southwest coast of the State, and Marco Island is the largest and most fully developed of them all. The island’s history stretches back for thousands of years. Its original inhabitants, the Calusa, were a Native American tribe indigenous to shores of South Florida.

The Calusa were fierce warriors, expert seafarers, and notable engineers and builders. Remnants of Calusa villages, ceremonial shell mounds, and of course inland canals can still be seen today. Believed to have been closely related to the Mayans, the Calusa would remain the dominant tribe in Southwest Florida until the arrival of European explorers in the 16th century.

In the mid-1500s Florida was a hot bed of European exploration. Spanish conquistadors traveled up and down the peninsula in search of adventure, wealth, and the elusive Fountain of Youth. When Spaniards discovered the island they named it La Isla de San Marcos, after Saint Mark of the Gospels. It is a name that has survived for more than 500 years and continues to beckon travelers to the island’s shores.

San Marcos’ Founding Families

The meeting of the Calusa and the Spaniards would not end well. Though the Calusa were successful in fighting off the island invaders they would ultimately succumb to the European diseases brought by the conquistadors. Survivors gradually migrated to the Florida mainland and lost themselves in other tribes. For the next few hundred years San Marcos would remain largely uninhabited, all but forgotten until hardy pioneers headed to the Gulf Coast following the end of the Civil War.

In 1870, William (W.T.) Collier arrived on the North end of the island. The first of Marco Island’s founding families, the Colliers would be instrumental the area’s early development. William Collier would establish what is now Old Marco Village. His younger son Bill would expand upon his father’s work, completing the family homestead – a sprawling plantation style mansion that is now the Old Marco Inn, a hotel and restaurant that continues to attract visitors to this island paradise.

In the early 1900s, Barron Gift Collier (no relation to W.T. and his son Bill) headed to the Gulf Coast in search of development opportunities. Ultimately, B.G. Collier would purchase more than one million acres of Southwest Florida real estate, including a large portion of Marco Island.

The Mackle Brothers Take Over

In the early 1960s the Mackle Brothers, Elliot, Robert and Frank Jr., purchased the bulk of Marco Island from Barron Collier’s heirs. Over the next few decades, the brothers would quite literally transform the island into the modern city we know today.

The Mackle Brothers plan was to turn Marco Island into an upscale resort community. To that end they began building in earnest. Over the next few years, they would oversee the construction of 125 of paved roadways and 90 miles of navigable canals. Land was earmarked for single family homes, apartment complexes, commercial development, schools, churches and medical facilities. In line with their vision of an upscale resort community the Mackle Brothers also set aside land for golf courses, marinas, and yacht clubs.

By 1968 the modern Marco Island was open for business, and the population had grown to more than 1000 permanent residents. Construction continued at lightning speed and by 1973 the population had ballooned to almost 5000 people. In the mid-70s the Goodland Bridge was completed, connecting the island with the mainland. This opened the area further, and throughout the 80s and 90s Marco Island would continue to develop into the modern resort community we enjoy today.

Modern Marco Island

Today, Marco Island is a thriving Gulf Coast community with a permanent population of just under 18,000 and a peak winter season population of nearly 40,000. It is a part of Collier County, which also includes the neighboring cities of Naples, Immokalee, Chokoloskee and Everglades City. The island is linked to the mainland by the Goodland Bridge, providing residents and visitors with easy access to and from the island.

As one of Florida’s premier island resort communities, Marco Island attracts visitors from across the state and around the country. Of course, beaches and sunshine are two of Florida’s biggest attractions and Marco Island has plenty of both. The island enjoys nearly 6 miles of white sand beaches, all of which are open to the public year-round. There are five named beaches on the island:

  • Sand Dollar Spit – Located at the Northern end of the island;
  • Hideaway Beach – Running parallel with Sand Dollar Spit this beach is only accessible by boat;
  • Tigertail Beach – The largest and most family friendly of Marco Island’s beaches;
  • Resident’s Beach – The second largest of Marco Island’s beaches and the most tourist friendly;
  • South Marco Beach – Located at the Southern end of the island.

Of course, there’s more to Marco Island than just beaches, and local residents as well as visitors can enjoy the island’s world class restaurants and shopping districts or spend an afternoon visiting the Marco Island Historical Museum, the Center for the Arts, or the Otter Mound Preserve.

Vital Statistics

Marco Island is one of Florida’s most treasured resort communities. It offers luxury living in an island setting, and that draws both permanent and part-time residents to its shores every year. Marco Island’s overall cost of living is higher than much of mainland Florida, which is to be expected for a resort town with so many desirable amenities.

Let us pause for a moment and take a closer look at some vital statistics for Marco Island:

  • The median annual household income for Marco Island residents is $73,031 well above the national average).
  • The median home value on the island is $553,290 (giving the area an affordability index rating of 80).
  • The median age of Marco Island’s residents is 65.3 years.
  • The unemployment rate currently stands at 4.0% (below state and national averages).
  • Marco Island has a strong job market, with predicted growth of 39.3% over the next decade.
  • Marco Island residents have no state income tax liabilities.

Getting to Know Marco Island’s Communities

Marco Island offers both permanent and part-time residents a taste of Florida’s easy living. A relaxed lifestyle is the defining character of the island and that is amply reflected in the city’s many different communities. Whether you are looking for a high-rise condominium, a family beach house, or a luxury apartment, Marco Island has a lot to offer the discerning buyer.

A brief look at the island’s more notable communities will help to give prospective new residents a better feel for the lay of the land.

  • Cape Marco – Located on the Southwest corner of Marco Island, Cape Marco is a gated community of luxury condominiums. Six skyscrapers, each with a different theme, are nestled along the waterfront offering residents a taste of luxurious beachfront living.
  • South Seas – At the North end of the island you will find the gated community of South Seas. Consisting of four high-rise condominiums South Seas offers an unobstructed view of the Gulf of Mexico and direct access to Tigertail Beach.
  • Hideaway Beach Club – Keeping to the North end of the island Hideaway Beach Club offers classic Country Club living. Inland and beachfront homes share space with world class golf courses and secluded beaches.
  • Key Marco – One of the more exclusive communities on the island, Key Marco has its own marina offering direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. Residents can relax on the beach and watch the dolphins and manatees as they bask in the South Florida sunshine.
  • Old Marco – As its name suggests Old Marco looks back to the early history of the island and the founding Collier families. Today it consists of luxury homes and condos, as well as high-end restaurants and shopping centers.
  • The River Area – Located along the Eastern part of the island this area is ‘condo-free’. A mix of newer and older homes, the River Area offers direct access to the Marco River and then out to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the more secluded and quieter of Marco’s neighborhoods, the River Area is perfect for boaters and beachcombers.
  • The Estates – This is perhaps the most luxurious of Marco Island’s communities. Large homes sit atop spacious lots, and the nearby docks provide a place for the residents to tie up their boats. The Estates is a very exclusive community, with home prices ranging from one to ten million dollars.

Finding Your Island Getaway

Marco Island has a lot to offer prospective new residents. Whether you are looking for a permanent residence or a seasonal getaway, Marco is an enticing proposition. Retirees will find a sun-drenched escape from the hustle and bustle of the North, while young professionals will enjoy the beauty and excitement of island life and all that that entails. If you are looking for a relocation destination that offers luxury living in an island setting, Marco Island should definitely be high on your list.