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Top FIVE things to do in Southwest Florida

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Before you do anything else, book a boat day with Nauti Aquatic Adventures. There's a reason why they're named one of the best charters in the area and that shows through their hopitality and passion for being out on the water.

If you can, request a tour with Captain Buck. We could not have asked for a better experience with him! Here's everything he took us to do:

  • Snorkeling around the islands was our favorite part! We found the most unique collection! Countless shells and sand dollars! I was so impressed with how much we found.

  • We spent some time getting the dolphins to play with us by creating waves for them to jump in! They were everywhere and we even saw a little family with a baby!

  • By the shore of one of the islands we saw a small shark swimming off in the distance. It wasn't threatening at all, but scary cool nonetheless!!

  • Other things you can do as well is search for conch, manatees, and go to lunch on the islands!

  • Oh! And ask him to tell you the story about sand dollars! It's the coolest story, you'll be amazed.

Captain Buck has 40+ years & 6000+ miles of boating experience and has his Master Captain License, which is the highest level of license you can achieve. Their charter is also Florida Coast Guard certified and inspected. You can check out more about the certifications that they have on their website.

Aside from the great ocean adventure they took us on, the most impressive thing about Nauti Aquatic Adventures is their hospitality. Honestly, unmatched! If you need ANYTHING, and I mean anything, you just ask the Captain or the First Mate! Need a drink from the cooler? They got it. Need a snack? They got it. Need your purse from the cubby? They're on it. They don't want to make you get up from your seat so you can spend as much time spotting the wildlife and enjoying the boat. It's full service on their charter! Overall amazing experience, we didn't want the day to end.

Book a tour! You won't regret it.

Next you have to see Nicole at SUP Englewood!

They have the most relaxing and informational guided kayaking, paddle board, and clear bottom boat tours you could dream of!

Nicole took us out on tandem kayaks and showed us the way around the bay and some near by islands. Not even 5 minutes into the tour we spotted a manatee! I would 11/10 recommend a guided tour because she showed us things that I would have never noticed and would have passed right up. Nicole has quite the eye, for instance, we were boating by some docks and there was a starfish hanging on to the bottom of the dock! Later we spotted a manatee right next to our kayak, along with schools of fish, shell creatures, and birds!

Animals you could see on the water:





•variety of birds

•schools of fish

•sea turtle (rare but would be so cool!)

& more!

Don't worry if you're a beginner, they will teach you everything you need to know so you feel prepared and safe on the water.

What you should know before you go out on the water:

•go on a sunny day - you can see better into the water

•bring water to drink

•have patients and keep you’re eye peeled! You never know when something will come along!

•book a guided tour - this will ensure you’ll see wildlife because they know what to look for and can educate you all about it!

SUP Englewood is the leader in Ethical Eco Tourism and has the most certified guides in Southwest Florida. Nicole knew the names of all of the birds, fish, and creatures that we encountered along our tour! She also had plenty of facts about them. It was so cool to learn about species that we wouldn’t normally see in Minnesota!

Be sure to book in advance!

Two restaurants you MUST try: Magnolias on the Bay & Farlows on the Water

Magnolias on the Bay is such a beautiful location. The whole feel of their restaurant is cozy/upscale and has a spectacular view of Lemon Bay. Their open concept kitchen right when you walk in the front door is like nothing I have ever seen before. Truly impressive! I love that their back patio leads right up to the ocean, so after we finished our meal, we took our cocktail out to sit on the benches next to the water! They also have a full bar of beer, wine and any specialty cocktail you can dream of! I personally go for something fruity, but there is something for everyone!

As for food, I recommend trying their Prime Filet Mignon, Shrimp Udon Noodle Bowl, and Magnolia Salad. You can go wrong with any of those! Oh! And their bread rolls were to die for! We got extra because they were so delicious. But do not pass up dessert here! We had the most amazing Pudding Cake!

When you call to schedule a reservation ask to be seated on their back patio near the water! We loved our view! But if you have a little bit of a larger party ask to be seated at one of their fire pit tables! I've never sat at one of those kinds of tables before but they look so amazing! And don't forget, if you have a boat, you can drive it right up to their dock by the patio and park for dinner!! What a cool way to show up! That would definitely take it to the next level.

Let me know which dish you end up trying!

Farlows on the Water is where Caribbean Seafood meets Southern Cooking. Who would have thought!! A husband and wife team came together to create an amazing restaurant along with the most ultimate menu! And they’re even working on opening up another restaurant on the shore! I will be back next year to try out that restaurant when it opens for sure!

The passion behind their story, restaurant and all the thought that went into their dishes is just mind blowing. They really have something for everyone one their menu, even those that choose to be more adventurous with their food! But over all one of the things that makes them stand out is they let anyone take a tour of their kitchen. They have so much pride behind what they do that they're not afraid to take you behind the scenes and show you where the magic happens! So when you go, be sure to ask!

We got seated on their back patio and had a beautiful spot near the lush greenery and the live musician. While we waited for our food to come out we decided to enjoy the view of Lemon Bay with our drinks back on their dock. As for food, we tried their Filet Mignon and Jamaican Jerk Snapper. Both were fabulous! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. But don't forget to order their appetizers tower! On ours we got Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushroom, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Coconut Shrimp and there were no complaints on any of them!

Next time you’re in town, you’ll have to stop by. Tell them I sent you!

Stump Pass Beach State Park has to be my favorite beaches in the area! The water is so clear and there were countless shells of all kinds to find. We brought our own snorkeling gear with us and I personally spent about an hour swimming around. I ended up finding a baby shark tooth which I was pretty stoked about! This beach is also way less crowded than most which is nice if you're looking for a calmer atmosphere. What sets this beach apart is there is a 1.3 mile trail that you walk through with numerous fishing spots and places to launch your kayak or canoe along the way. If you're looking for something a little more you can always set up a tour with one of the Park Rangers. You can check out their website for additional information on the tours.

Lastly the beach is very accessible! They have wheel chair ramps for anyone who needs them and a bathroom located right next to the beach. I would advise to get there earlier in the day if you want a spot in their parking lot because it is rather small and bring some cash for the small entrance fee to the park or purchase your pass online ahead of time.

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