Just a short ride from the Florida Everglades and extremely close to Naples, Marco Island is the largest and only developed land in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands. Marco offers luxurious resorts, pristine beaches, and beautiful parks, in addition to a tropical climate that’s second to none.
Ideal activities to do on Marco Island are canoeing, fishing, boating, nature-walks, renting jet skis, and parasailing. The Island also offers fantastic island-themed dining and bars that exude a tropical ambiance. If golf is your game, Marco Island offers a few of the most amazing courses in Florida.
Early inhabitants (Calusa) in Marco Island were most likely descendants of the Myans. The Calusa were a Native American people who were tall, nice looking and fierce. The lower Gulf Coast land was rich and the sea provided many resources (food, raw materials, clothing and shelter). They made tools and were excellent woodworkers and often carved canoes, beams and planks (for constructing their homes), piers and docks.
Carved animals, masks and gods were found by archeologists on Marco Island with the most famous being a six-inch wooden figure resembling a panther called Key Marco Cat (see image). It now sits at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
In 1513, a friend of Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce de Leon was eager to tackle the untouched shores of La Florida. He led the first European exploration and eventually made landfall near Caxambas on the southern end of Marco Island (current day area is the Estates).
The Calusa lived in the hills at Caxambas which is now Old Marco Village (5 miles to the north).
The relations between the Spaniards and Calusa were rarely friendly and explorers were often ambushed the second they made it ashore.
The Calusa were expert hunters using both spear and bow and arrow. They mostly survived by hunting, fishing, gathering food and they grew some crops.
In 1521 a Calusa spear fatally wounded Ponce de Leon and he died in Cuba a few days after. By the mid 1700's disease spread by the Spanish explorers and European slave hunters wiped out the Calusa people.
Later the Seminole Native Americans took the place of the Calusa people and lived in the region.