The greater Naples area generally encompasses the town itself, plus the Bonita Springs area to the north and Marco Island to the south.
The area as a whole is relatively new in the scheme of Florida things, but its attraction runs deep. Who comes to Naples? Beach lovers, water sports enthusiasts, golfers, shoppers, families and folks just wild for its nearby wilderness. The region’s superlative dining and robust arts scenes are bonuses that give the destination dimension.
A number of parks and preserves in and around Naples provide refuge for birds and the human soul. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, for instance, gives outdoor enthusiasts beach, water, and nature in one pretty little package.
Nature-lovers also take to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center and the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Learning Center for hands-on environmental education, boating, kayaking, and easy hiking.
Kids especially love the live and rehab creatures at the Conservancy. Naples Zoo is the iconic spot for meeting both local and exotic fauna. And specifically for family, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples imparts local lessons in the same park where Sun-n-Fun Lagoon gets them waterpark wet.
Lowdermilk Park has the most family friendly beach, complete with playgrounds and a little duck pond. Kids will also love Tigertail Beach on Marco Island, which also has playgrounds and water sports rentals.
Fishing, boating, sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding make the Naples’ area a water sports fanatic’s fantasy. Besides deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, back bays and the nearby Everglades provide endless opportunity for casting a line.
Marco Island, as the biggest island in the watery maze known as Ten Thousand Islands, is all about getting out on the water. Rentals, charters and tours make anything possible as far as on-the-water adventure.
Naples is a year-round destination, and each season has its advantages and disadvantages. Your timing decisions will be based on budget and weather. See “High & Low Season” and “Weather & Climate.”
Naples is located in the Eastern time zone.
To check the local time in Naples click here.
Daylight Savings Time (DST) happens in the spring (early March, on a Sunday morning at 2 AM). It’s when clocks are advanced one hour so there is more daylight later into the evening. In the fall (late October or early November on a Sunday morning at 2 AM), clocks shift back one hour to standard time. The entire U.S. (except most of Arizona) participates in this ritual of springing forward and falling back.
Local Events include:
January (weekend mid-month): Southwest Florida Nature Festival at Rookery Bay
January (weekend late month): Swamp Buggy Winter Classic
February (weekend late month): Naples National Art Festival
March (one day mid-month): Naples St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March (weekend late month): Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival
March (weekend late month): Old Florida Festival
April-May (two weeks): ArtNaples World Festival
May (one day mid-month): Great Dock Canoe Race
National Holidays include:
January (1st): New Year’s Day
January (third Monday): Martin Luther King Day
February (third Monday): Washington’s Birthday
May (last Monday): Memorial Day
July (4th): Independence Day
September (first Monday): Labor Day
October (second Monday): Columbus Day (aka Native American Day)
November (11th): Veteran’s Day
November (fourth Thursday): Thanksgiving Day
December (25th): Christmas
Is the Naples area for you? If you are on a tight budget, you may find that Naples’ high-end resorts, elite tour and charter operators and premium dining scene may be out of reach or just costly enough to make your stay less than comfortable.
You can find affordable options if you know where to look, but if you want the full Naples experience, complete with catching whopper fish or staying at a hotel on the beach, you will have to expect to pay the price.
One other consideration: If you are expecting Key West casual, again you might be less than comfortable in Naples. People dress up more than is common in other Gulf Coast destinations. Many compare the scene to Palm Beach, but we rank it a bit lower than that on the hoity-toity scale. Marco Island tends to be more casual, but no less costly in general.
With two Ritz-Carltons setting the bar, vacationing in Naples does not come cheaply. And it’s not much more affordable on Marco Island or in Bonita Springs. The most costly time to visit is in high season, Christmas through Easter/spring break. You will find the best prices in the spring (after Easter, before summer vacation) and fall (after summer vacation to late December) shoulder seasons.
You pay a premium price, and you get premium in Naples. It is a beautiful, safe, and varied town with great beaches, wonderful shopping proximity to wilderness and water sports adventure, and lots of attractions for families and culture-lovers.
Subscribe to the email newsletters of various local properties to watch for news of off-season (and sometimes even in-season) packages and discounts. If you’re on a budget, look at properties that are not on the beach. Likewise, for meals, avoid the downtown dining scenes on Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South if you want to save money.
The county’s tourist development agency charges a 4 percent bed tax that pays for tourism’s impact on the infrastructure, beach renourishment projects and other special tourism-related improvements. In Bonita Springs, which is part of a different county, the bed tax is 3 percent.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, this is a general price range for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in $US.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person
The closest airport to the Naples area is Southwest International (RSW) in Fort Myers, about an hour away from North Naples.
You can possibly save money on airfare if you are willing to fly into bigger cities such as Miami or Fort Lauderdale and drive over. Rental cars are slightly cheaper at those airports, too. The drive from Tampa and Miami is about 2 hours, from Fort Lauderdale about 3. A few low-fare airlines fly into Fort Myers, including Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit. Allegiant flies into the airport in Punta Gorda, about 2.5 hours north of Naples.
Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.
But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.
Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.
That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals donât show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their “friend” or subscribe to their e-mailings.
Have Car, Will Travel
Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.
There are also name-your-own-price sites, like Priceline, where you tell âem what you want to pay and they hook you up with a car rental company who can fit the bill. There are some great deals here, if you are not too picky about the make and model of your rental.
Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transportation, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Download the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. Memberships cost about $7 a month; rentals are about $8-10 per hour; gas and insurance are included.
Ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and itâs usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be. Try that with a cab.
Money Saving Tip: Costco, because of its behemoth size and price negotiating power, offers great low prices for most major car rental companies. Yes, you need to purchase an annual Costco membership first, but it more than pays for itself with what you’ll save with a typical week’s car rental (i.e. searches turn up a mid-size car through Costco for $225 and a comparable car through another aggregator for $325.)
Did You Know: Budget Car Rental offers drivers residing at the same address (i.e. unmarried partners or BFFs) complimentary extra driver coverage. Other car rental companies charge upwards of $10/day. By the way, when renting in California, there are no additional driver fees by law.
Hopefully, your trip to (or within) the U.S. goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?
Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.
Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:
Trip Cancellation — About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.
Medical — Health services in the U.S. are expensive for the uninsured. This is a major reason to consider purchasing insurance. Whether you break a leg or need a blood transfusion, you will likely incur costs far higher than you might pay in other nations. And what if you have an accident that requires transport to a major medical center? Air ambulances alone could set you back $15,000 to $30,000.
Trip Interruption — For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.
Travel Delay — Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.
Baggage — Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.
Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travelers.
Do I need travel insurance?
If your trip costs $4,000 to $6,000 (or more), it’s probably a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. So is your destination. If you’re traveling to a hurricane-prone area during hurricane season, for example, you’ll probably want some coverage “just in case” — no matter what.
Your English language skills are also an important factor. Insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.
How do I choose an insurance provider?
Do your homework — check around.
The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregates like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.
Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).
If you have pre-existing health conditions — Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition. But companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, itâs best to check the fine print.
Credit card insurance — If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.
The travel insurance business is expanding and evolving rapidly. As “shared space” lodging options like VRBO, Airbnb and Homeaway become more popular in the travel and leisure market, so does the need for insurance for both property owners and travelers.
For more information, visit the US Travel Insurance Association.
U.S. dollars come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. They are all the same size and color, so non-Americans have an understandably tricky time telling them apart. The $2 bill is in circulation but rarely seen.
Coins in wide circulation include pennies (1 cent), nickels (5 cents), dimes (10 cents), quarters (25 cents). The 50 cent and dollar coins are seen occasionally.
Smaller businesses may not accept $50 or $100 bills, so plan to have $20s or smaller bills in hand.
If you get money from an ATM machine, you may incur charges (often $2 or $3 per transaction). Check with your bank before you leave home to find out which, if any, U.S. banks will allow you to get cash without an extra charge. Many grocery stores, gas stations and major retail outlets let you get a limited amount of “cash back” when paying for your goods — this is an easy way to get cash while on the go.
Credit and debit cards are accepted widely throughout the U.S.
Don’t forget to call your debit and/or credit card company before you travel to inform them of your planned itinerary. This goes for U.S. residents traveling out of state. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk having your card denied/declined when you try to use it in a destination far from home. You should also call your company immediately to report loss or theft. The numbers to call are usually on the back of the card — which doesn’t make sense if they are lost or stolen. So make a note of them and store them where you’ll have easy access.
Recently, companies have been issuing cards with embedded chips that prevent counterfeit fraud. Banks and merchants that don’t offer the chip-and-PIN technology are beginning to be held liable for fraud. Check with your bank and credit card company for details on your specific cards.
Tipping is a cost you must build into the budget for any U.S. travel experience, whether urban or rural. Tipping is most relevant to dining out and hotel stays, but other costs should also be taken in to consideration. General guidelines include:
For excellent service, plan to tip 20% on the total bill, before taxes. For less-than-stellar service, 10-15% is customary, as an imperfect experience is often not solely the responsibility of the server. In many states, servers work for below minimum wage and live mostly on tips, so consider the ramifications of your tipping decisions.
To complicate matters, many restaurants in the major metropolitan areas â New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco â are moving to a no-tipping model in which service is included. The verdict isn’t yet in on whether this new model will stick, so be sure you understand the tipping policy at each restaurant you visit.
Oh, and one more complication: Sometimes a tip is automatically included. But at least it will be itemized in plain sight on the bill.
Most bell staff receive $1-$2 per bag they assist with; if someone carts all of your bags up to your room, expect to tip $5-$10.
Tips for housekeeping are also good form. The rule of thumb is $2-$3 per day and about $5 per day in higher end properties.
At properties with concierge services, consider tipping concierge staff who assist you in planning activities, making reservations or acquiring tickets, or simply orienting you with driving directions or public transportation info. Current etiquette calls for $10-$20 per person, per day for concierge help. Car valet staff expect $1-$2 for delivering you your car. Spa employees (massage therapists, aestheticians, etc.) usually see 20% tips on their services, whether performed at the spa or in your room.
Invariably, there are incidental costs associated with being on the road. Make sure to budget between $10 and $40 per day for batteries, lost phone chargers, bug repellent, headache medicine, sunburn relief and other personal items you might have forgotten. If you’re traveling with kids, consider the snack budget. Local grocery and drug stores will be cheaper than tourist shops for all of the above
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is the closest major airport to Naples. It lies about 45 minutes from downtown Naples. Cabs and rental cars are available at RSW. Both Naples and the Marco Island area have their own private planes airports.
By car, Naples lies off Interstate 75 with five exits for Bonita Springs, Naples, and Marco Island. U.S. Highway 41 runs through the middle of Naples. Also known as the Tamiami Trail, its importance is explored at the Naples Depot Museum, which specializes in the history of local transportation.
The Naples Trolley and Marco Island Trolley do scheduled tours of their respective area. Collier Area Transit (CAT) travels throughout both towns.
Historically, the Naples, Bonita Springs, and Marco Island populations have been dominated by retirees and vacationers. That is shifting slightly in Bonita Springs and Naples as more families and young professionals settle in. An increasing number of businesses, as a by-product, now cater to that demographic. Naples’ permanent population currently numbers around 22,500 with a median household income of $84,000.
Considered Florida’s “final frontier” — one of the last regions to be settled — Naples, before it was Naples, was little more than a Seminole Indian trading post. Because it took some wealth and daring to make one’s way to these southernmost gulf shores, pioneers were either well-off or adventurous. More than a few were hiding from the law. The extension of the Seaboard Airline railways to Naples in 1926 brought such illuminati as Rose Cleveland (the president’s sister), Greta Garbo, and Gary Cooper to visit and winter. Wealthy visitors and residents made the town something of a diamond in the rough, perched at the edge of the wild Everglades and loved by hunters and fishermen. The fishermen still come, but the game of golf has replaced hunting as the sport of choice. For more than 70 years, resorts in Naples and on Marco Island have helped establish the region’s reputation as a playground for the rich.
Naples supports a robust arts scenes with several theaters and theater groups, a new opera house, a wealth of art galleries and art centers, plus the town’s cultural hub Artis—Naples. This complex, formerly known as Naples Philharmonic, holds a world-class performance arts hall, a theater, and the art galleries of the Baker Museum.
In 2014, Condé Nast Traveler magazine surprised foodies by listing Naples at number 17 for the Top Cities for Foodies readers’ choice awards. For a small town, Naples is surprisingly well-stocked with talented chefs doing marvelous things in amazing restaurants. Of course seafood figures importantly on local menus. And with a name like Naples, you’d expect a lot of fine Italian restaurants. But you will also find a wide variety of other cuisines from Peruvian and Portuguese to Spanish and Persian.
Some pre-destination reading or books to bring along for the beach:
Explorer’s Guide: Sarasota, Sanibel Island & Naples by Chelle Koster Walton
Bright Orange For the Shroud, a Travis McGee thriller by the late, famous mystery author John D. MacDonald (who had a home near Sarasota), is set in Naples.
Although none of the medical mysteries take place in Naples, Robin Cook has a home here. His most famous books include Coma, Brain, and Mutation.
Novels by Janet Evanovich, who also has a Naples home, make perfect beach reads.