TRAVEL, ADVENTURE & EXPLORATION

Naples Is A Beach Oasis With Wildlife and Unique Cuisine

Waves softly crash on the shore. Perfectly shaped seashells peek out of the snow white sand. A sea turtle nest lies peacefully behind you in a wildlife preserve. 

Not far down the beach, fishermen excitedly real in the catch of the day. A young girl struggles to stand on a paddle board and laughs as she falls back into the ocean. You soak in the warmth of the sun’s rays and breathe the salty air of Naples, Florida.

Five years ago, Bethany Weiss and her great dane, Dixie, left Mississippi behind for a change of scenery in the Sunshine State. There are countless reasons to love the city of Naples, but the weather tops the list.

“The weather in Naples is amazing,” said Weiss. “While the rest of the country is suffering below-zero temperatures, we enjoy warm, sunny days.” Even winter temperatures in Naples remain in the 70s and 80s, she said. 

Nature preserves are also attractions. “Any day of the week, you can take a walk through one of the many parks and preserves and see various exotic birds, turtles, snakes and, of course, alligators,” Weiss said. 

Naples is also known for its pristine beaches. One of those is Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, offering fun for every type of vacationer. FloridaStateParks.org reports that beach-goers can sunbathe and fish in designated areas, hike, kayak, paddle, and hunt for the perfect seashell. 

The park, which opened in 1976, hosts a pavilion that can be rented for special occasions. It even offers a concessionaire in one of its parking lots that serves food and drinks and allows visitors to rent beach umbrellas and chairs, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Weiss loves Mira Mare beach in particular. 

“It is almost like a private beach, as it is off the beaten path, and most tourists have never heard of it,” she said. The beach is near the Venetian Village, yet not too close, preventing it from disturbing “the tranquility of the vista.” 

As a Naples resident, Weiss loves spending an entire day on the beach.“From sunrise to sunset, I love to sunbathe, paddle board, or hop on the pontoon boat to Keewaydin Island,” Weiss said

According to ParadiseCoast.com, Keewaydin Island is only accessible by boat, which visitors may rent. The island is mostly undeveloped with a few private homes nestled in the white sand. Keewaydin is pet-friendly, making the island a fun day trip for the entire family. 

The historic Naples pier is also a popular spot for fishing and dolphin watching. The pier offers guests covered seating next to a concession stand, restrooms and showers. Those walking along the pier can join in the excitement and fish, as it is not uncommon to reel in grouper, redfish, tarpon, mangrove snapper, and much more, according to Naples Saltwater Fishing. 

People come from all around to watch the fireworks show hosted by the Naples pier each Fourth of July, spending their day at the beach swimming, playing volleyball, or simply picnicking. The fireworks display is visible all along the beach, according to NaplesGov.com, and is preceded by an Independence Day parade in the morning.

In addition to its beautiful beaches, Naples is known for its restaurants and shopping. “Instead of franchised restaurants and box stores, Naples boasts original and one-of-a-kind restaurants and boutiques,” said Weiss.

Her favorite shopping center is the Venetian Village that, according to VenetianVillage.com, offers the most waterfront shopping and dining in the city and has been nicknamed the Jewel of Naples. The Village’s 50 shops cater to every need, as there are stores for jewelry, home decor, and apparel for men, women and children. 

For special occasions or date nights, Weiss recommends Bayside Seafood Grill and Bar in the Village. Bayside hosts live music each night from Wednesday to Sunday, according to VenetianVillage.com. For a more casual meal, Weiss recommends Brooks Burgers for “the best gourmet-style burgers in the world.” “No really,” Weiss continued. “Their twice-baked burger is the best in the world.” 

Many choose to retire in the warm oasis of Naples. Similarly, many Americans from northern states, “snowbirds,” reside there only in the winter months to escape the bitter cold temperatures of their homes. However, younger families are beginning to discover this little paradise as well. 

“It may be a decade or so, but Naples may become a vacation destination for young families,” Weiss said. All things considered – perfect weather, pristine beaches, undisturbed wildlife, unique shopping experiences, exquisite food – it is no wonder Naples, Florida has become an increasingly popular destination for people of all ages.

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