An Honest, Super Detailed Review of JW Marriott Marco Island (FL) & “Paradise By Sirene”

January 14, 2024
jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

Resort Review: JW Marriott Marco Island | A super detailed review of the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort and its adults-only section Paradise by Sirene. This is definitely the best place to stay on Marco Island, FL, one of the best traditional beach resorts in the U.S. From rooms to service to food and more, a review of this Marco Island resort, best Florida beach resorts, resorts for families & one of the few adults-only beach resorts in the US.

What do you do when you’re looking for a traditional (yet not truly break-the-bank) luxury beach resort experience in the U.S.?  Oh, and make that adults-only??  If you’re anything like me, you go down a research rabbit hole, almost end up settling for a boutique Miami hotel, and then stumble upon the J.W. Marriott Marco Island beach resort.

My sister and I stayed four nights here, specifically in the adults-only “Paradise by Sirene” offering.  While I could find a number of reviews on the resort overall beforehand, I struggled to find more than one or two on Sirene.

We were specifically looking for a more traditional type of resort, the kind with multiple types of rooms, various pools, several restaurants, etc—a contained experience—that’s not as common in the U.S.  The Caribbean is stronger (and cheaper) for this experience, but my sister didn’t have her passport yet.

blue skies & a beach umbrella

You might also like:  The Only Carry-On Suitcase You’ll Need

Why visit Marco Island?

Honestly, Marco Island kind of flies under the radar a bit, as far as famous and over-touristed Florida beach areas goes.  It sits on the Gulf Coast (a.k.a. better beaches) but just around the southern hump, with just the Everglades sitting between it and Miami.  It’s about half an hour from Naples, but way south of Tampa.

It’s got gorgeous beaches, calm waters, and easy access to the Everglades.  Marco Island is the largest barrier island in the Ten Thousand Islands, a chain of (not-actually-10,000) small isles and mangrove islands that’s connected to Everglades National Park.

woman silhouette at sunset beach at Marco Island, FL - JW Marriott Marco Island beach

You might also like:  My Favorite Cross-Body Purse for Travel

Disclaimer:  I did not receive anything from the resort, & fully paid for my stay.  All opinions are, as always, completely my own.  This post does contain affiliate links…I may earn a small commission from any qualifying purchases through clicks on these links (which I greatly appreciate, and at no extra cost to you). Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.

My TL;dr review of the JW Marriott Marco Island & Sirene

I’ve got a MUCH more detailed review of the resort below, including gobs of photos, but if you’re in a hurry here’s my “short and sweet” version.

I also always recommend you check out the detailed reviews on both Booking.com and TripAdvisor, they’re super helpful!  I usually book through Booking.com for easy management, comparison, and flexibility.  You can also see Sirene’s specific benefits and offerings at their website (note, I think you may have to book Sirene directly with the hotel).

  • We stayed in the adults-only “Paradise by Sirene” section, which is 21+ and comes with some extra amenities and nicer rooms, plus access to an adults-only pool and section of beach.
  • The resort is lovely, clean, and well-located on Marco Island for great beaches and sunsets.  It’s decent-sized…there’s one large main pool, a small Sirene adults-only pool, a handful of restaurants and bars, and the beach.
  • Our Two Queens Gulf View room was spacious and comfortable, including a Nespresso machine and a small balcony with partial sea-view.
  • Service was generally pretty good, quite enthusiastic.  There were a couple folks who weren’t great to interact with or just complete lack of being able to find a server (both out at the adults-only pool), but generally good.
  • The food and drinks overall were good, not great.  There were some bright spots and also some “meh” experiences.  Food was generally pretty great.  Drinks at the pool were expensive and often tasted a bit more watery.
  • My only real complaint is the cost (relative to value/the experience).  The stay itself is quite expensive, but then the food and drinks add a TON to your bill (but going off resort definitely takes more work, Ubers, etc).
  • There are tons of excursion and activity options if you’re looking for that, whether directly offered by the hotel or bookable on your own.

Bottom line:  While I definitely had some quibbles with price relative to experience, if you’re looking for a more traditional resort experience in the U.S. I’d definitely recommend the JW Marriott Marco Island.  Especially if you’re looking for an adults-only option.

I’d return (under the right circumstances, if I couldn’t do Caribbean).  Also, I had multiple friends with kids reach out to tell me they’d been as a family and LOVED it.  This could be a great extended family trip option too, with joint experiences but also couples without kids able to escape them.

But, let’s get to all the nitty-gritty details and—most importantly—more pics!!

The beach at JW Marriott Marco Island is one of the best reasons to visit, including the adults-only section at Sirene

You might also like:  The Ultimate Beach or Pool Vacay Packing List

A few random tips

First, let’s talk about getting to the hotel and getting around.  I debated whether to rent a car or just Uber from the Ft. Myers airport, where we flew into.  Pros and cons either way, as having a car would have given us a lot of flexibility (particularly for excursions).  But the cost of rental plus like $40/night parking at the resort didn’t make sense.

Our Uber from the airport was about $60, the drive is close to an hour.  It was on the way back that we ran into issues.  We had an early morning flight, and had the hardest time getting an Uber or Lyft.  It took 25 minutes just to get a driver assigned, then 20 minutes for him to get there (and it was $80).  We barely made our flight.  Avoid an early flight if you can!

We just took a few Ubers around the island to get to our excursions as needed.

A few other random things to note:

  • The Wi-Fi out at the adults-only pool isn’t terribly strong.  We also weirdly couldn’t get Wi-Fi on our balcony at all even though it was fine in the room.
  • The resort only offers paper straws (UGH) so I recommend bringing your own biodegradable bamboo ones (or metal ones, though I have a tendency to accidentally send them back with the drink).
  • They will include an automatic 20% tips out at the adults-only pool (and I think most places), which is helpful since you don’t necessarily *have* to find someone to get the check at the pool.  I did usually tip the pool concierge who helps with chairs and towels a few bucks a day, but then didn’t duplicate tip the drink servers.
  • The resort’s gift shop had a surprisingly good selection of sunscreen brands, if you didn’t want to bring your own and have to check a bag (though obviously you’ll pay through the nose).
  • There is a coin-based guest laundry offered, if you need it (my sister took advantage).

girl smiling with red cocktail tiki bar

You might also like:  15+ Tips to Avoid (& Survive) Air Travel Woes

What to pack

For this type of resort, my pool and beach vacay packing list is perfect, and what I consulted.  We visited at the end of July so it was disgustingly hot and humid, even by my standards.  There was rarely much breeze, and frequently cloud cover mid/late afternoon.

Here are some specifics to make sure you bring:

  • Cute & comfy swimsuits – I love this one-piece, and then for bikinis I always use Athleta’s Notsostring Bottoms paired with whatever bikini top fits at the moment.  Always bring two, so one can dry!
  • I’m a big sundress fan, so brought a few lightweight ones with me to throw on for lunch or excursions.  I’ve had excellent luck with StitchFix, and Amazon is where I get a lot of my dresses these days.  Some good styles would be a t-shirt dress, a tank dress, or something flowy with fluttery cap sleeves.
  • I also brought a couple nicer sundresses for dinner.  You’ll see all kinds of clothes for dinner at the resort’s restaurants, but recommend looking presentable.  A nice sundress or maxidress with pretty sandals is totally fine.
  • A few types of sandals –  I mostly wore my simple flip flops around the resort and at the pool.  Then I wore my cute Aerosoles (like thesethese, or these) or my favorite comfy wedges for dinner.  I also brought my Rockport sandals for comfortable walking and boat trips (they balance comfy and cute).
  • Sunscreen – I’ve written an entire post about the 9 sunscreens I love for travel, and then more recently have fallen in love with these face moisturizers and sunscreens.  I also brought my now-beloved clean, non-toxic makeup (that does amazingly well in humid heat).
  • I tend to bring hydrocortisone cream and thigh glide to tropical, humid destinations as well.
  • I leave nice jewelry (including my rings) at home, and never bother with jeans.

A super detailed review of the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

You might also like:  My Favorite Non-Toxic Makeup Brand For Travel (Including Summer!)

Deep dive review of Paradise by Sirene & the Marriott Marco Island

We were welcomed at reception and whisked away to a separate room to get checked in—with a glass of champagne while we waited.  Our wristbands served to both identify us as staying in the Sirene section (giving us swipe access to the pool, etc) and also was our room key.

Service overall throughout our stay was pretty great and I found most of the staff to be very enthusiastic and warm.  There was one older lady at the pool who was uhhh…salty.  I felt like I was just being scolded with each interaction, like I was a bother.  The other older lady (Victoria?) was lovely, and and Oliver was awesome.

a glass of champagne to welcome us to Paradise by Sirene at JW Marriott Marco Island

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

You might also like:  25+ Awesome Gift Ideas for the Traveler in Your Life

Our room in Paradise by Sirene

We chose the Two Queens with Gulf View room, and it was nice and spacious, very clean.  One of the reasons I’d wanted a room like this was the small balcony, where my sis and I hung out and drank coffee in the morning.

two queens ocean view room at Paradise by Sirene - JW Marriott Marco Island

Our room at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort, we stayed in the adults-only section Paradise by Sirene

View from our room at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort, we stayed in the adults-only section Paradise by Sirene

You might also like:  My Favorite Face Sunscreens & Moisturizers for Travel

The bathroom was nice and had good toiletries.  There was also a Nespresso machine so we could make decent coffee in the morning…clutch, because the coffee shop was a madhouse a lot of the time.

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

You might also like:  9 Sunscreens I Swear by for Travel

The pool(s)

I mean, this is what we’re really here for!  The #1 reason I wanted to stay in the adults-only Sirene section was to have access to an adults-only pool.  Giant crowded chaotic pools filled with screaming children are NOT my idea of fun when I’m paying thousands of dollars to stay somewhere…

The adults-only pool and lounge chair area are pretty small but rarely got super crowded.  We could always find a chair, though sometimes only ones on the fringes.  There is a waiter running back and forth to the bar to take drink orders, but sometimes they’d disappear for long stretches of time and I’d just walk over there myself.  Note, service at the pool doesn’t start til 11:30am.

Drinks here were really expensive (like $15+ per?), and felt pretty watered down. I rotated between pina coladas, Miami Vice, and strawberry dacquiris, and got a Gin Mare & tonic once.  They have a great, extensive gin list, but man, paying $20 for a gin & tonic seems insane.  The Miami Vice was consistently good, while the pina colada tended to be weak.

The food menu at the pool is Tesoro lunch, and we didn’t get much but I have to shout out the INSANELY delicious warm “balloon bread” and tiroketiri (thick whipped feta and Greek yogurt with red pepper flakes and olive oil) appetizer they had at the time.  My sis and I couldn’t get enough of it.

The adults-only Paradise by Sirene pool at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

frozen cocktail at the adults-only pool - Paradise by Sirene at JW Marriott Marco Island

The adults-only Paradise by Sirene pool at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

You might also like:  The Google Flights ‘Map Search’ Hack You Should Be Using

One thing I majorly appreciated was that the pool wasn’t full of rowdy music.  It didn’t feel like a party.  I could just read my Kindle or listen to a podcast in peace.

Their pool and beach towels are genius…they have a pocket that goes over the top of the chair so it can’t totally fly away.  Usually I recommend bringing towel clips but these were great!

The adults-only Paradise by Sirene pool at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

The adults-only Paradise by Sirene pool at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

The adults-only Paradise by Sirene pool at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

You might also like:  A Travel Bucket List for Your 30s & 40s

Here’s what the main pool looks like.  Like I said, I have multiple sets of friends with kids (who have high standards) who wrote me unsolicited to say how much they loved staying here!

The main pool at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

You might also like:  How To Find (& Pick) The Right Flight Every Time

The resort grounds & public areas

As I mentioned above, the JW Marriott Marco Island is fairly large, but not in a “you need a golf cart to get around” way.  In that sense it’s compact, with everything fit into the large U-shaped resort buildings and then the pools and restaurants scattered within that space.  Finding individual restaurants was sometimes confusing, but otherwise it was super easy to navigate.

The decor was modern and kind of sterotypical “semi-luxury resort”…I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, just that it’s exactly what you’d expect and likely be looking for.  It does NOT feel “corporate conference hotel” at all, which is great.

The lobby at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

The lobby at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

The Tesoro bar at the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

You might also like:  How to Make Any Itinerary At Least a Little Epic

Here’s a view of the main outdoor areas, dominated by the main pool.

The JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

The JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort, walking around the resort

The JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

You might also like:  10 Places I’m Dying to Visit in 2024

The beach at JW Marriott Marco Island

We only spent one morning down at the beach, preferring instead the less-sandy pool experience.  But the resort’s beach area is definitely a major selling point.

They have a massive stretch of white, powdery sand (with lots of shells and shell fragments, so sharp!!), and quite a few loungers and umbrellas.  The water was beautiful and clean when we were there in late July.

The adults-only beach section at JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort, only accessable by Paradise by Sirene guests

The adults-only beach section at JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort, only accessable by Paradise by Sirene guests

You might also like:  How to Choose the Best Hotel or Rental Every Time

There is staff at the beach to help with your umbrellas and there’s bar service out there (at least for the adults-only…not positive on the main beach area).

There is a specialty beach area just for Paradise by Sirene guests, so it’s adults-only.  From the far-left of the pic below, I’m wondering if the umbrellas are only for Sirene?

View of the beach at JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort

The adults-only beach section at JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort, only accessable by Paradise by Sirene guests

You might also like:  My Fave Summer Beach & Pool Reads

The sunsets on Marco Island

Marco Island is famous for its amazing sunsets, and the JW Marriott beach is one of the best places to experience them—in fact, many locals will come to the tiki hut restaurant to have drinks and watch the sunset and the fire dancers.

We got two nice sunsets there, but our first night was absolutely STUNNING.  The sunset develops over quite a bit of time, and the colors change significantly throughout.

Marco Island is known for its sunsets, and the ones at JW Marriott Marco Island are amazing

Marco Island is known for its sunsets, and the ones at JW Marriott Marco Island are amazing - silhouette of woman picking up shell beach at sunset

Marco Island is known for its sunsets, and the ones at JW Marriott Marco Island beach are amazing

Marco Island is known for its sunsets, and the ones at JW Marriott Marco Island beach are amazing

You might also like:  What to Listen to on the Beach: 15+ of the Best Full Albums

One evening we watched the fire dancer show on the beach during sunset, which was cool (though honestly I’d have preferred to just go right up to the water and enjoy a quiet sunset again).

Kids especially love the fire dancers.

fire dancer at JW Marriott Marco Island beach at sunset

fire dancer at JW Marriott Marco Island beach at sunset

fire dancer at JW Marriott Marco Island beach at sunset

You might also like:  My Trip Planning Process: Inspiration>Research>Reality

The food & drinks at JW Marriott Marco Island

Generally we found the food pretty good here.  One note was that it seemed like there was quite a lot of heavier fare (e.g. fried) at all the restaurants, and I would have loved to see an array of (delicious) lighter and fresher dishes, especially in that heat and humidity.  There were salads obviously, but they felt more “phoning it in” vs. truly great.

A few of the restaurants and bars don’t take reservations (Koral and 10K Alley, for instance), but dinner reservations are recommended for Ario and Tesoro’s inside dining room.

I’ll start with breakfast…as guests staying in Paradise by Sirene, we had access to a complimentary continental breakfast in Tesoro every morning.  The spread was fairly extensive, quite a decent number of options, though I found the actual food a bit underwhelming.  To be fair, that tends to be true for me and most buffets—they look great, but the food disappoints.  Still, a pretty great spread.

Terrace at Tesoro, an adults-only JW Marriott Marco Island restaurant

The continental breakfast included for Paradise by Sirene (adults-only) guests at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

The continental breakfast included for Paradise by Sirene (adults-only) guests at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

The continental breakfast included for Paradise by Sirene (adults-only) guests at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

You might also like:  10 Things You Have to Do Before Every Trip

One sad thing was that they only offer regular coffee, not any espresso-based offerings.  We always chose to eat our breakfast out on the patio with a great view while we planned our day.  (Ha, “planned” as in, do you want to go down to the pool right away, or do a short workout and then go down?…)

I didn’t get a pic of it, but there is a coffee shop in the resort.  It was decent (expensive, obvs, but what coffee shop in the US *isn’t* these days???).  We just didn’t go too often because it was a madhouse in the morning, with a long line.  It moved fast enough, but just kind of chaotic.

View from breakfast included for Paradise by Sirene (adults-only) guests at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

breakfast included for Paradise by Sirene (adults-only) guests at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

You might also like:  7 Travel Intentions for 2024

Next up, drinks and pool fare!  As I mentioned up in the Pools section, the drinks at Marco Island in general were quite expensive.  I won’t repeat everything I said up there.  I tended mostly toward traditional “beach vacay” drinks like frozen pina coladas, dacquiris, and Miami Vice (the winner!)…when in Rome and all that.

I was really impressed with the gin list at Tesoro, so if you’re a gin fiend like me I’d definitely check it out!  They do have plenty of other drink options and a list of their own cocktails out at the pool, but I went with the classics.

The food menu at the pool is Tesoro’s lunch menu (also served on the terrace), and we didn’t end up ordering much here.  But I do have to mention the crazy delish tiroketiri appetizer they had at the time.  It’s whipped Greek yogurt and feta with red pepper flakes and olive oil, with this warm puffy ballon bread to dip in it.  I want to bathe in it.

I got the grouper sandwich once as well, it was decent but a bit bland, but the fries were great.

Delicious food at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

strawberry dacquiri

Miami Vice cocktail at pool

You might also like:  11 of My Best Tips for ANY Trip

Next up is Kane Tiki, the tiki bar and restaurant down on the beach.  Man it’s humid down here!  The service was great, I got probably the best Miami Vice I had the whole trip, and we shared apps one evening because we weren’t that hungry.

The spring rolls, Maui nachos, and chicken satay were all delicious.  So we went back for lunch another day and the mahi sandwich was also great.  Overall, a winner and good quicker option.  Plus, it’s a wonderful spot for sunset watching.

Kane's Tiki Bar at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

food at Kane's Tiki Bar at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

You might also like:  13 Cool Souvenir Ideas To Pick Up While Traveling

On the opposite side of the resort is Quinn’s, also right on the beach.  The real Quinn’s is closed for renovation, re-opening sometime in 2024, but they’re serving a small “Taste of Quinn’s” right on the beach right now.

We stopped here for a quick lunch one day and it was…okay.  The fish tacos were fine, if kind of bland.  The quinoa salad was incredibly disappointing, we couldn’t even taste the mango citrus dressing.  I don’t know if maybe the less-healthy options are the delicious ones here, but we were underwhelmed.

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

You might also like:  My All-Time Favorite Bra for Travel

One of the fun options that you have at the JW Marriott Marco Island is 10K Alley, a gastropub and gaming arcade.  We didn’t spend time with the bowling alley, arcade, or anything else, but we did have one meal here and it was great!  (Also, it is very loud in the evening, with all the kids running around.)

This is really good pub food (though my sister got a delicious chicken caesar salad as well).  I got a burger and fries, as well as onion rings for us to share.

Both The Don cocktail and and Neapolitan Margarita were delicious.  They have an extensive bourbon list and tons of beers on tap.  I stopped in here one night to grab the chocolate peanut butter sundae since I was craving something sweet, and didn’t love that as much.

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

10K Alley gastropub & arcade at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

You might also like:  The 10 Best Books I Read In 2023

Next up is Koral, the sushi restaurant.  It’s only open from late afternoon onward.  They had some good cocktail options, I got the Origami (kind of like a strawberry whiskey sour). My sister and I shared the tuna tatami, wagyu beef nigiri (YUM!), and a salmon roll, which were all delicious.

We then decided to view those as appetizers and head to Ario for dinner instead.  This is a great light dinner option, or to have cocktails and apps before your dinner reservation.

pink cocktail at Koral at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

We had dinner at Tesoro one night.  We’d made a reservation (on the early side) but didn’t end up needing it…as you can see, it was deserted, though did start to fill up around 6:30.  Note, this restaurant is 21+ only.

The cuisine here is kind of an Italian-Spanish hybrid, very Mediterranean.  We decided to share a few items rather than each ordering, so had the Turkish lamb flatbread (like a pide) and the burrata margherita flatbread, patatas bravas, and the raw cauliflower salad.  All good, though nothing mind-blowing.

We came back to the bar here once and ordered a profiterole for dessert…it was fine.  I will shout out the great service we had at Tesoro.

Tesoro at JW Marriott Marco Island resort

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

You might also like:  6 Amazing Luxury Resorts To Experience (Caribbean / Mexico / Costa Rica)

Lastly, there’s Ario.  We lucked out and were able to squeeze the two of us in without a reservation—it was still on the early side, and we promised to be done by the time their 7:00pm reservation needed the table.  But I do recommend reservations.

We shared the duck confit dumplings (yum!), sea bass (great), and two vegetable side dishes.  We also ordered a very interesting-sounding cherry dessert which looked cool but tasted kind of meh.

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

Off-resort dining options

I had every intention of trying some great local restaurants and bars around Marco Island, but ended up getting really lazy and tired, not wanting to deal with Ubers.  We did end up at Island Gypsy for a quick drink before our sunset sail, as we couldn’t find anything else nearby.

If you’re looking for good non-Marriott food and drink options, here’s what my research turned up:

  • The Snook Inn is a local institution…casual, supposed to have great food (including great fresh fish), and on live music certain nights
  • Sale e Pepe in the Beach Ocean Resort is supposedly outstanding for a more upscale evening
  • The Dolphin Tiki Bar & Grill is supposed to be laidback, great tropical cocktails, and seafood specials
  • Marco Island Brewery has local and international craft beers in a classic brewpub setting
  • Goodland and Capri Fish House are supposed to be great beach tiki bars

I can’t vouch for any of these but dig into those options if you’re looking for something outside of the JW Marriott.

Island Gypsy bar in a more remote part of Marco Island, FL

cocktail at Island Gypsy bar in a more remote part of Marco Island, FL

Excursions & activities off-resort

I struggle when staying at this sort of (honestly, quite expensive) resort, because I want to really enjoy every minute and get my money’s worth.  But also, I want to explore the area…and there is SO much to see and do in the Marco Island area.

The Ten Thousand Islands area of Everglades National Park is one of the most famous but also less-visited since it’s more remote than the Miami-area access.  You’ll find mazes of mangroves, gorgeous coastal scenery, and TONS of wildlife.

The one challenge I found was that a lot of excursions depart from Naples, which is a 35-40 minute (quite expensive) Uber ride if you don’t have a car…but paying for parking at the hotel is crazy expensive.  Since we didn’t want to hassle with the time and cost of that, it narrowed our options down.  Trying to get into the Everglades-proper was a similar amount of time and expense.

Some of the most popular things to do in the area are a kayak tour through the Everglades, various and sundry types of dolphin-watching boat tours (often combined with bird watching and shelling), traditional Everglades airboat tours, sunset sails, and snorkeling.

Daytime boat trip-wise, my short list of excursions included this manatee Everglades boat tour, this dophin boat tour from Marco Island, this dolphin and manatee kayak or SUP tour (gonna be honest, felt like too much work!), and the Dolphin Explorer ecotour, which we did end up booking—more on that below.

girl looking at mangrove island in Marco Island, FL

I REALLY wanted to do a sunset sail on a legit sailboat, vs. a catamaran or larger boat, and I definitely didn’t want a booze cruise (in the party sense).  But I struggled to find something that fit the bill.

I ended up with Cool Beans Cruises, which worked out great.  I also considered this sunset sail from Naples, this local daytime or sunset catamaran option and this private sunset sail (If I’d had, like ONE more person, it would have been the winner).

Sunset sail with Cool Beans Cruises in Marco Island, FL - clinking champagne glasses at sunset

Sunset sail with Cool Beans Cruises in Marco Island, FL - group on catamaran

Sunset sail with Cool Beans Cruises in Marco Island, FL - group on catamaran

Cool Beans is a catamaran sunset sail that leaves from the Marco Island area (vs. having to go to Naples).  Captain Kelly and Jack were fun and kept us supplied with drinks throughout, but it maintained a very chill vibe.

The sunset we got was a bit ho-hum compared to the one we’d had the night before, but still developed into something nice.  One thing to note, there really isn’t anything around the marina where the tour leaves from…we walked a bit and finally found Island Gypsy, but otherwise it’s not in a highly-populated area.

Sunset sail with Cool Beans Cruises in Marco Island, FL - girl smiling with champagne

Sunset sail with Cool Beans Cruises in Marco Island, FL - sunset from the boat

Sunset sail with Cool Beans Cruises in Marco Island, FL - sunset from the boat

The other excursion we decided to book was The Dolphin Explorer Ecotour.  The Dolphin Explorer is run by the 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project, and I think their unique approach makes it the best dolphin tour on Marco Island.

Rather than a regular tourism endeavor, it is first and foremost a scientific one that’s been going on for a couple decades tracking and studying the dolphins in the area.  Throughout the tour you learn a ton about the local ecosystem, the subtropical estuaries of the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge, the dolphins themselves, and the mangroves.

But not in a boring way.  In fact, this tour is great for kids, and they have workbooks and a competition of sorts that they do to engage young learners.  We spotted dolphins at regular intervals, zig-zagging to various spots that they tend to hang out and sometimes giving a dolphin some boat wake to jump around in.

As James photographed their fins and identified them, he was able to give us some background on the individual dolphins…which were loners, which were moms, which were best friends.  They identify them by nicks on their fins, which are as unique as fingerprints (crazy!!).

They offer a few boat tour times throughout the day, as well as a sunset cruise a few days a week.  You can read reviews on TripAdvisor and book directly on their website.

Read more about our Dolphin Explorer boat tour experience!

Dolphin Explorer ecotour boat trip in Marco Island, FL

Dolphin Explorer ecotour boat trip in Marco Island, FL - dolphin jumping

Dolphin Explorer ecotour boat trip in Marco Island, FL - stormy sky & lots of shells on the beach

If you’re looking for the full beach resort experience while staying in the U.S. (and especially if you want adults-only), Paradise by Sirene and JW Marriott Marco Island definitely needs to be on your short list!

Other traditional beach resorts you’ll love:

Pin for later!

Resort Review: JW Marriott Marco Island | A super detailed review of the JW Marriott Marco Island beach resort and its adults-only section Paradise by Sirene. This is definitely the best place to stay on Marco Island, FL, one of the best traditional beach resorts in the U.S. From rooms to service to food and more, a review of this Marco Island resort, best Florida beach resorts, resorts for families & one of the few adults-only beach resorts in the US. #beachresort #review #florida

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Prev Post

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

A Super Detailed Road Trip Guide For Sao Miguel Island (Azores)

January 7, 2024

Next Post

jw marriott marco island,marco island beach resort,marco island resort,paradise by sirene

The 10 Best Books I Read In 2023

January 18, 2024