Keewaydin Island is a boat only accessible island off the coast of Marco Island, which is just 30 minutes south of Naples. The Gulf of Mexico refuge is part of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of the 29 protected reserves in the entire country. Visitors are encouraged to come explore the protected lands and wildlife, and boating to the island for the day is a great start. Keewaydin truly looks like something out of “Castaway”, and can be a fun place to disconnect from the rest of the state.
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While one can rent their own boat or jet skis from Naples or Marco Island, the Hemingway Water Shuttle also provides trips back and forth throughout the day, to the gorgeous stretches of unobstructed, non-industrialized sand. Pure Florida operates various site-seeing tours that may focus on dolphins or the popular shelling scene (basically you hunt for incredible, intact shells).
While bringing a picnic is an option, it’s way cooler to walk up and grab lunch from one of the food boats that putter over to Keewaydin daily. (Yeah, they are like food trucks on water!) Just Beachy Burgers grills up a juicy Angus patty, but we have to say the grouper tacos sound enticing. Despite the island not having any amenities to non-residents, you can still grab a cocktail from a floating bar (veterans sometimes get free beer), chow down on a hotdog and even visit the pink ice cream boat!
Dogs are welcome on Keewaydin Island, just be mindful and bring plenty of clean up supplies. It’s the only dog-friendly beach around, and the Hemingway Water Shuttle is happy to transport well-behaved fur babies. Friends will be jealous when they see your four-legged travel buddy experiencing one of the most beautiful gulf beaches in Florida.
Be sure to bring water, sunscreen, towels, an umbrella and money for the food boats!