Naples, Florida welcomes boaters with its vibrant blend of things to see and do and its laid-back vibe. From an abundance of natural attractions and incredible fishing excursions to luxurious city-side amenities, Naples is an all-in-one destination with something for everyone.
The white sandy shoreline of Naples Beach is a popular lure for shelling and sunning. Explore the surrounding natural beauty by renting a standup paddleboard and traveling through all the mangroves. Naples — often called the golf capital of the world — has more than 90 championship golf courses, perfect for the golf enthusiasts.
Dining options range from casual to gourmet with a bounty of regional fresh seafood offerings. Stroll down Naples famed main street, Fifth Avenue South, a beautiful promenade of high-end shops, restaurants, cafe and antique stores.
NAPLES, A TROPICAL OASIS nestled on Florida's Southwest Gulf Coast (aka Paradise Coast), welcomes boaters with its vibrant blend of things to see and do and its laid-back, relaxed vibe. From an abundance of natural attractions and incredible fishing excursions to luxurious city-side amenities, Naples is an all-in-one destination with something for everyone.
The white sandy shoreline of Naples Beach is a popular lure for shelling and sunning, but your visit wouldn't be complete without catching a brilliant sunset from the historic 600-foot Naples Pier. The completely renovated pier, which is open 24/7 for fishing and bird and dolphin watching, is the most-visited attraction in Naples.
Explore the surrounding natural beauty by renting a standup paddleboard and traveling through all the mangroves. Naples Paddleboard Accessories & Surf Supply has kiteboards, paddleboards and kayaks and offers lessons, rentals and free delivery.For the golf enthusiast, Naples often called the golf capital of the world has more than 90 championship golf courses, including the Rookery at Marco and the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
Two other incredible outdoor must-dos are the 52-acre Naples Zoo and the stunning Naples Botanical Garden.Dining options range from casual to gourmet with a bounty of regional fresh seafood offerings. A night on the town wouldn't be complete without a stroll down Naples famed main street, Fifth Avenue South, a beautiful promenade of high-end shops, restaurants, cafes, and antique stores. Art lovers will want to explore Gallery Row, along Broad Avenue South, and its nearly 100 galleries. Nearby is Waterside Shops, an outdoor luxury retail destination with more than 60 restaurants and shops.
Overlooking the stunning spot where the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River meet, the Saybrook Point Inn, Spa, & Marina is just two miles from historic downtown Old Saybrook. The property has a lovely 80-room hotel plus a 123-slip marina that can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. Marina guests have access to the indoor and outdoor heated pools, the fitness center with its whirlpool and sauna, and the well-appointed spa. Indulge in The Kate, a full-body treatment designed to nourish and ground the mind, body, and soul, and named for Katherine Hepburn, who lived nearby for much of her life.
The Inn at Perry Cabin is owned and operated by the luxury-hotel company Orient-Express, and looks out onto the picturesque Miles River in the town of St. Michaels on the Chesapeake Bay. To visit the property's Linden Spa, boaters can tie up to the inn's docks (there are no power hookups), or book a slip at nearby St. Michael's Marina that is in downtown St. Michaels, from which there's a water taxi service to the Inn at Perry Cabin. The Linden Spa was named for the linden trees that line the drive approaching the property and are said to have healing properties, and it made Spa Finder magazine's list of the world's best spas. One of the signature treatments, the Linden Ritual, incorporates infused linden flowers, black birch, sage, blackberry leaves, eucalyptus, and rosemary into a mixture that is wrapped around your body, then scrubbed off with salt and honey before the treatment concludes with a massage.
Set on Florida's Atlantic coast about halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, the Addison Mizner-designed Boca Raton Resort & Club recently underwent an extensive renovation that restored its old-school glamour while bringing facilities into the 21st century. The 32-slip marina can accommodate vessels up to 175 feet and is located on the Intracoastal Waterway. Transient boaters have access to all the resort's amenities, including two 18-hole golf courses, a state-of-the-art tennis center, and a restaurant from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The spa building was modeled on Spain's Alhambra Palace, and the treatments bring the idea of pampering to a whole new level: sevruga caviar facials, cranberry-pomegranate body scrubs.
The Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina sits on Pender Harbor on British Columbia's beautiful Sunshine Coast. The top-notch resort has a deep-water marina popular with boaters cruising the Inside Passage to Alaska. The property's spa is an homage to the area's natural splendor and healing waters, with local-timber-beamed cathedral ceilings, a hydrotherapy room, and a spa garden, where visitors can go back and forth at their leisure between a hot/cold outdoor rain shower, a sauna cave, a glacial rain shower, and a warm salt-water flotation pool. Book one of the seven private rooms for a treatment such as a white-clay brightening wrap, then relax with a glass of wine in front of the spa's outdoor fireplace.
Kona Kai Marina occupies the tip of San Diego's Shelter Island, adjacent to the elegant Hawaii-themed Kona Kai Resort & Spa. The marina has 518 slips that can accommodate boats up to 200 feet, and marina guests have full access to the resort's amenities, including walking trails, bike rentals, a full-size pool, and a first-rate health club that runs fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates, and karate six days a week. The property is lushly landscaped, with flowers and waterfront views at every turn. The spa has a complete roster of treatments, including Swedish and deep-tissue massages, aromatherapy body wraps, and sea-salt-scrub exfoliations.More featured spas..
Two cities on opposing coasts in Southern Florida, boasting exquisite architecture and privileged offerings go toe to toe.
It's no surprise that Florida's Paradise Coast has unlimited offerings for sophisticated palate. Indulge in impressive fare and signature cocktails at Ocean Prime, or satisfy that Italian hankering at the robust Osteria Tulia.
Palm Beach's critically acclaimed Buccan has been serving small plates with big flavor since 2011, while authentic French bistro Chez Jean-Pierre has an extensive wine list and decadent handmade desserts.
Hit the links at legendary Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, designed by course architect John Sanford in collaboration with Jack Nicklaus. Also try the sophisticated world-class Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton, which hosts two PGA tournaments.
Laid out like a string of pearls,Banyan Golf Club in West Palm Beach was designed with no two holes alike. Or test your skills at the legendary PGA National including five championship golf courses (private).
Emphasizing modern and contemporary art, The Baker Museum showcases several traveling exhibitions along with a slew of permanent collections in this 30,000 square-foot museum.
The Norton Art Museum has become one of Florida's major cultural institutions with the distinguished permanent collections of American, Chinese, contemporary and European art.
Fifth Avenue South has been the dubbed the unofficial Main Street in Naples with copious amounts of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Stroll through Tin City for a taste of that old Florida charm with over 30 unique boutiques and waterfront dining.
As one of the most sophisticated shopping venues in the country, Worth Avenue of Palm Beach is home to designer fashion and specialty boutiques. Check out Antique Row for vintage furnishings in Palm Beach's art and design district.
Combining an abundance of amenities and a unique waterfront experience, Naples Bay Resort is Southwest Florida's only waterfront hotel with a full operation marina and direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Accommodating boats up to 200 feet, Old Port Cove is a true resort style marina located on a beautiful sixty-acre peninsula or in downtown West Palm Beach, Palm Harbor Marina accepts vessels up to 250 feet.
Chased out of the Florida Panhandle by November's slowly declining temperatures, we sought refuge in the warmer, sun-drenched latitudes of Florida. We all know the shortest distance between two places is a straight line. The Great Loop's straight line across the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs is a distance of 170 miles and deposits you alongside the best Greek restaurants west of Athens. Located on the Anclote River, the Tarpon Springs City Marina is in the thick of the action along the town's main thoroughfare and indulges your senses with tantalizing aromas. Spiritus twisted her way off the main river to nearby Turtle Cove Marina, which provided a somewhat quieter respite from the flocks of tourists strolling the city's sponge docks.
A scant 10 miles south lies the city of Dunedin, a quaint little berg which left us smitten and refused to free us until the end of December. The small, intimate Dunedin City Marina placed us a stone's throw from downtown while to the north, the larger Marker 1 Marina seemed to be the Looper favorite. Dunedin residents love to flaunt their Scottish heritage. Kilt-fitted bagpipe bands (several of them!) proudly marched through the streets during the annual Christmas parade. Joining the throngs of culinary aficionados after the parade, we found everything from barbecue to Irish stew, haggis to quesadillas and stone crab to amberjack. The same can be said for the neighboring city of Clearwater Beach, sans kilts and bagpipes. Here, the main attractions are the marvelous white sand beaches and the seemingly endless number of fresh seafood restaurants, all conveniently located near the Clearwater Beach Marina.
All the fine dining forced us to get some much-needed exercise, making the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail an invaluable weight-control asset. The 38-mile rail-trail stretches from Tarpon Springs in the north to St. Petersburg in the south. Utilized exclusively for cycling, walking or jogging, the trail passes through the towns of Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, South Pasadena and Gulfport. For many Loopers, this trail is reason enough to justify cruising with bicycles.
Glancing at a Rand McNally you'd think that much of Florida's west coast is just one big megalopolis. But the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Tarpon Springs and Fort Myers Beach has countless scenic anchorages to provide peace and solitude. Well-known waterfront cities like St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Venice hum with activity.
As someone once said, If you're bored here, then you're just a boring person! The area surrounding Charlotte Harbor, which is actually a huge bay, has many fascinating places to visit. Englewood, Boca Grande, Burnt Store, Pine Island and Punta Gorda are just a few. But the spot we kept returning to (three times!) during our Great Loop experience was the anchorage at Pelican Bay, adjacent to the island of Cayo Costa. The island is a Florida State Park, accessible only by boat, ferry or helicopter. This peaceful well-protected anchorage allowed us to see dolphin, manatee, alligators, bald eagles, owls, woodpeckers and pelicans; lots of pelicans! Several days we packed a picnic, rowed our dinghy to shore and walked across the island to the Gulf of Mexico. Even in January we enjoyed relaxing swims, long strolls along the beach and hikes on the wooded trails. Before returning to Spiritus, we always stopped by the park ranger station to grab a Klondike bar out of the freezer. They have all the flavors!
When approaching Fort Myers Beach, a vacation destination in its own right, a decision has to be made. Some folks decide to leave the protection of the GICW and continue south to spend the rest of winter in the Florida Keys.
We decided to head east on the Caloosahatchee River and stop for a while at the City of Palms: Fort Myers. Enjoying their tepid weather throughout the rest of January, we explored south Florida by car. Day-trips to Naples, Marco Island, the Everglades and Sanibel Island created many fond memories.
In February we continued our east-bound cruise up the Caloosahatchee River, eventually reaching the western shore of the seventh-largest freshwater lake in the country; Lake Okeechobee. High winds have a dramatic effect on the lake's 9-foot average depth, so it was imperative to listen to NOAA reports before leaving the protection of the river's lock system. However, we easily crossed the lake in just one day. The St. Lucie Canal on the east side of the lake completes the waterway joining Florida's two coasts, essentially linking Fort Myers Beach in the west to the city of Stuart in the east.
Nature's barrier islands provide a continuous, well-protected avenue along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway for cruising Florida's eastern seaboard. As we departed Stuart at the end of February, we realized that you cannot travel more than a day without going through a town with beach in its name; Jensen Beach, Vero Beach, Melbourne Beach, Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach, Fernandina Beach. Despite the similarity in their names, each town is unique in its history or its culture and are all worthy of a visit.
A stop at Vero Beach City Marina made us linger to explore the local area from the water's edge. Don't pass up the chance to delve into the history of the space program near Cocoa Beach. The ever-popular Cocoa Village Marina was a convenient location for us to enjoy the museums and tours in and around the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Race fans know that Daytona Beach is home to the Daytona 500, held in February each year. How cool would it be to stay aboard your boat during race weekend? Or during Bike Week in March, like we did? If I had a nickel for every Harley that rumbled past our slip at the city marina, I could afford a new chart plotter!
And if history is your passion, then plan to stop in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. The AICW provided a great view of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse just before we reached the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Even this Floridian learned some state history at the nearby Lightner Museum, housed within downtown's historic Hotel Alcazar.
With so much to see and do, cruisers can easily maintain a pace that prevents wandering north of Jacksonville before April. That's what helped me keep comfortable in shorts!