Discover these fabulous resorts on islands big and small that skirt Florida’s Gulf shore
Next vacation to Florida head to the west coast, where the Gulf of Mexico has carved out some impressive islands that make great getaway destinations. Calm waters with gentle wave action and fine soft sand make these islands favorite choices with the beach crowd. Each boasts its share of resorts, but these three properties are among our favorites for their combination of location and amenities.
Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, Marco Island
One of the southernmost islands on Florida’s Gulf Coast with resort- style accommodations, Marco Island sits on the edge of the Everglades and the Ten Thousand Islands, an undeveloped region of marshland and mangrove forest hugging the tip of the peninsula. Perched on a wide crescent beach is the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort. Follow the boardwalk over dunes covered with Florida scrub to the beach and grab a lounge and sun umbrella where you can wile away the day in the cool breezes off the Gulf of Mexico. Later take a slow guided WaveRunner eco tour into the mangrove jungle of the Ten Thousand Islands or an evening dolphin-sighting cruise, all easily arranged from the hotel’s water-sports desk. Book a room with a balcony facing the Gulf for sunset viewing. The décor of warm wood tones, wave-patterned carpeting and crisp white linens complements the natural surroundings. And for those who had enough beach and pool time, the resort has a spa, tennis courts and nearby golf courses. If that isn’t enough, you can always book a day trip to the Florida Everglades, where you’re sure to spy an alligator or two. BOOK NOW
Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is an easy-going, walkable and family-friendly town on a barrier island. Its two great assets are the Beach Walk and Pier 60. Beach Walk offers wide curvy sidewalks that weave along the coast past hotels, shops and restaurants. At Pier 60, nightly sunset parties attract performers and vendors, and the view of the setting sun from the 1,080- foot pier is sensational. Add to that mix the Sandpearl Resort, one of the beach’s most luxurious properties, and you have an ideal getaway. Start in the lobby where an elegant decor of columns and ceiling beams blends seamlessly with Florida wildlife sculptures, murals, and coral and seashell arrangements. The theme carries into the rooms of this midsize resort on the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re not at the zero-entry lagoon pool, you’re running barefoot in the grassy front lawn en route to the beach. The resort’s restaurant Caretta on the Gulf, with its white tablecloth vibe, reconfirms the commitment to luxury, but dining here is still a casual affair with the beach just outside the window and a menu of steak and freshly caught Florida seafood. BOOK NOW
’Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa, Captiva Island
The name hints at the location of this very cool, island-style property, tucked between a placid Gulf of Mexico beach to the west and the emerald-tinged waters of Pine Island Sound to the east. Think sunrise and sunset views. Since ’Tween Waters Inn sits on one of the narrowest stretches of Captiva Island, guests can easily walk from one body of water to the other. This also means you have your choice of location— gulf-front, bayside or courtyard. As for accommodations, what began in 1931 as a collection of charming fishing cottages has evolved to include brightly painted historic seaside cottages with screened-in porches, studios, suites and guestrooms, all decorated in a comfy, casual style with rattan furniture, poster beds, wood panel ceilings and paddle fans. The grounds, cocooned in sea grape trees, palms and blooming hibiscus, can be explored by bicycle. Or you might want to join an eco kayak trip to Buck Key, an uninhabited neighboring mangrove island; paddleboard in the sound; or take a sailing lesson at the inn’s marina. When hunger or thirst hits, the Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille is the place, and just for fun, time your visit to the nightly hermit crab races. BOOK NOW