Florida’s Paradise Coast is a premier destination for just about everyone: families, golf enthusiasts and anyone in search of sun and luxury. From the gorgeous white-sand beaches that stretch for more than 30 miles along the shimmering Gulf of Mexico waters to world-class resorts and some of the freshest seafood on earth, the section of the Sunshine State stretching from Everglades City to Immokalee (with tony destinations like Naples and Marco Island in between) is truly a coast for all seasons. But in addition to stunning landscapes, several beloved parks and nature preserves also call the area home. A visit to this treasure trove will take you worlds away. Follow this guide to assure it happens.
A Serene Stay
Situated along three miles of pristine surf, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples features 450 well-appointed guest rooms, including 35 suites and 70 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms and suites with unparalleled ocean views. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s Presidential Suite is worth the splurge because of three large balconies with magnificent panoramic views, a dedicated concierge and a plush king featherbed. The dazzling resort offers a remarkable stay with an amenity roster that includes two heated pools; Vue entertainment lounge; an interactive children’s environmental program; and a bevy of beach activities and water sports. Another perk is the 51,000-square-foot Four-Star spa. Request the Aroma Rejuvenation, a scent-rich indulgence for the body or The Ritz-Carlton Naples Signature Massage, a traditional Swedish treatment made sweet with oils.
As a Ritz-Carlton, Naples guest, you’ll also have access to Tiburón Golf Course’s two 18-hole, Greg Norman-designed courses at nearby The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. With the fine fairways, the Four-Star Mediterranean-style haven also offers 295 elegantly decorated guest rooms and exceptional dining at its three in-house restaurants. A complimentary shuttle will take you to both properties, allowing you a chance to enjoy the luxurious touches at each venue.
Marco Island has its share of premier hotel options as well. Marco Beach Ocean Resort is the area’s go-to property for an idyllic stay. Though space between condo complexes is at a premium, airy rooms are equipped with a full kitchen. A marble-filled grand lobby and a pool perched on the fifth-floor rooftop help complete the mood. Golfers in the area should check into Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa, a sprawling treasure with a Balinese-influenced spa, two private 18-hole championship golf courses and nine dining options.
Where to Play
Naples is, first and foremost, about the water. A star nautical attraction is the historic Naples Pier, which is open 24/7 for fishing as well as some prime people-, bird- and dolphin-watching. Located in a high-end residential area, the nearby beach is surrounded by lush landscaping and private homes — plus, there are no high-rise buildings to block the epic views of the sun setting into the gulf. Just north of Naples is Barefoot Beach State Preserve, a park with nature trails and a back-bay estuary for paddling canoes or kayaks. There are also many nearby barrier island beaches only reachable by boat, such as Keewaydin Island, Kice Island and Cape Romano. When it comes to on-water adventures, we tip our captain’s hat to Sweet Liberty, a chartering company with a 53-foot catamaran that somehow feels intimate.
For high-end shopping, visit the Waterside Shops, an outdoor marketplace in north Naples with waterfalls and soothing music playing as you peruse Gucci, De Beers, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and other posh stops. Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South are two other pedestrian-friendly shopping districts lined with boutiques, art galleries and restaurants with sidewalk seating. The Village on Venetian Bay is also an equally charming destination for shops like Casanova Venetian Glass & Art and Everything But Water, an upscale swimwear line.
Dine in Paradise
Sophisticated cuisine with a side of spectacular sunset views make Paradise Coast a must-stop for traveling foodies. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples’ The Grill, a Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant, excels in dry-aged cuts, veal chops and Colorado lamb racks. Downtown Naples boasts a trendy and vibrant food scene, too. With soft creams and corals providing airiness, Avenue5, the signature establishment at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Inn on Fifth and Club Level Suites, serves refined dishes centered around water such as their popular wild sea bass, saffron risotto and grilled asparagus. But seafood lovers aren’t the only ones who’ll savor the area’s kitchens. Fans of northern Italian cuisine (Osteria Tulia), lamb balls (bha! bha! Persian Bistro) and Floribbean-Asian fusion (Baleen Restaurant) will also get full from the selections. And with a calendar filled with gastro get-togethers (Everglades Seafood Festival, February 6-8) and wine tastings (Naples Winter Wine Festival, through January 25), it’s easy to see why epicurious visitors adore the coast.