On Marco Island, Florida — Part II

In the summers of the 1990s when the farm stand where I worked in Naples was closed I worked on Marco Island for a real estate rentals agency.

Marco 2

Marco Island is known for its crescent shaped beach of sugar white sand. I took these photos at the south end of the island. I’ll always remember the sailboats out on the sparkling Gulf during the day, the gentle morning rain on the Marco River as I drove across it to work, the peaches and pinks of a Marco Island sunset on a summer evening.

Marco Beach Chikees

Inhabitants of Marco Island differ from those of Naples. They come mostly from the Mid-Atlantic states and are laid back, come to Marco to beach and boat in winter and then go back home to Jersey and Delaware shores to beach and boat in summer. Marco Island lies just south across the Big Marco River from Naples. It is one of the Ten Thousand Islands and has a total area of 22.8 square miles. In the early 1900s a clam digging industry and two canneries thrived here, on the south end of the island at Caxambas Pass. On Caxambas Island I climbed Indian Hill, the Calusa Indian shell burial mound. Flying tribes of big, black salt marsh mosquitoes attacked me. When you swat them, they spring back. Think what you will about the spirits of the dead. I got out of there.

Caxambas Indian Hill 1

The above is a view of Caxambas Pass from Indian Hill.

Marco Island, situated in the Gulf of Mexico 90 miles west of Miami and 157 miles south of Tampa, is built upon a cluster of mangrove islands. I’ve seen overhead photos of when Marco Island, as such, was not there, just the green mangrove islands in the blue water. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad ran across to the island from 1927 to 1944. Major development took place on Marco in the 1960s, led by the Mackle Brothers of the Deltona Corporation. My mother and stepfather owned a home here in the 1970s. As a result of the development across these mangrove islands, many Marco Island homes sit on waterfront properties with boat docks, connected by a series of canals leading to the Gulf, and when you drive around the island you go over a lot of little bridges.

Sea Oats & Sand Bars

Sea oats on Tiger Tail Beach at the north end of Marco.

NM002-1W Sea Oats


My Chair on Marco

This chair is reserved for you.

Yet what you see next fascinates me more than anything in the region — the sinking Cape Romano, once on the southern end of Caxambas Island, connected by road, is now only accessible by boat. See more photos and read the story about these mysterious dome homes. This vintage photo below is copyright Kristian Maples.


Photo taken around 1982. Once there was an exhausting walk to the beach, they say. Successive hurricanes took their toll.


Photo in 2014, above, from messynessychic.com.

Below, from the Coastal Breeze News,  printed on September 7, 2012, from an intriguing story of this house, titled “Cape Romano Uncovered” — are photos of before and after. Two other houses on Cape Romano are of note, a stilt house and a pyramid house.

I am deeply intrigued by this story, infinitely fascinated. This part of Southwest Florida holds an enigmatic quality that only the natural elements and those who live there know, like they’re all part of some secret cult, a collective with a discrete shape of mind. Maybe it’s just the humidity. However, if you are so compelled to learn more, you can see many more before and after photos plus videos and family and news stories on the Cape Romano Facebook page, on the Abandoned Florida website, and on the blog of Kristian Maples, grandson of dome homes designer Bob Lee.



Talk about having that sinking feeling….

–Samantha Mozart

8 Responses to On Marco Island, Florida — Part II

  1. Fascinating, Samantha. You’re right, the island’s story and history feels like something known only to a private club or cult. The aerial image of the water and domes…amazing, now that I know something about the island, the walking trail gone. I am thinking the island would make an intriguenly fascinating setting for a good mystery or any type of book. Thank you for sharing. I am not in the habit of picking favorite post, but this one’s fascinating.

    • sammozart says:

      Yeah, this is an utterly fascinating story, Silvia, and back when I first heard about it and saw photos, when I was working at that job on Marco, my mind conjured up all sorts of potential mystery stories, as with you, and I’m still inspired. I must confess that after I wrote about this, I had to make a strong effort to pull myself, my mind, away. I just wanted to indulge and sink into it until my novel was finished.

      They talk about Californians being “far out,” but Floridians are way more so. You can do and get away with pretty much what you want in Florida, and nobody says anything. For the rich, you build a solar dome house on an island for the fun of it, and if it sinks, so be it.

  2. Julia says:

    I have never heard of Marco Island before, so thanks for the lovely write up and photo tour. Spending time at the beach is quite nice, and I wish I could get around to it more often.

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you for coming by and visiting my blog and virtual beach, Julia. It would be nice to be there on Marco in reality. I think you’d like it if you went.

      Nice to meet you on the A-Zs.

      I’ll come by and visit you now.

  3. Gwynn Rogers says:

    I attempted to leave a comment and then my computer could not find your page, so I’ll try again. The Marcos Island beaches remind me of some of the Mexican beaches that I have seen pictures of, and also some of the Caribbean beaches. Beautiful pristine white sand! Those poor domed homes look DOOMED! You take GORGEOUS pictures! Thanks!

    • sammozart says:

      Well, I didn’t take the photos of Cape Romano and the sinking homes, Gwynn, as you probably know. I’ve never been there, though I have wanted to go ever since I heard about them 20 years ago when they weren’t so far under water. Yes, that part of Florida has a distinct Caribbean and Bahamian appearance and feel — and I would suspect, Cuban, too. Of course, I’ve drunk Cuban coffee in Florida. One of those two-ounce cups keeps you buzzed for days.

  4. Pat Garcia says:

    Beautiful, Samantha. We have several islands in Northern Germany that are similar to Marco. I have had the privilege of going to three of those islands, my favorite being Langeoog.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    • sammozart says:

      In Northern Germany…. Interesting, Patricia. I never would’ve thought. I guess it IS warm enough in the summertime. Long Island. No sinking, I hope. No wonder the Germans like Naples and Marco so much. The Germans are very polite — always say hello and thank you and goodbye.

      And thank you, Patricia, for visiting and for letting me know about Langeoog.