Discover what’s old, new, borrowed and blue in Paradise Coast

JoNell Modys
Special to Coastal Life

There are many reasons why Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and the Gulf Coast Everglades are known as the Paradise Coast.

White sand beaches, pristine natural areas not found anywhere else, and the rewards of fantastic restaurants, hotels and resorts awaiting every adventurer.

The refurbished Naples Pier at sunset.

This attracts many thousands of couples each year who choose to say their wedding vows in view of our beaches, gardens and natural places. This year, the busy winter wedding season might have been affected a bit by the rains brought by El Niño, but it’s really always the romance season here.

And no matter whether it’s a huge destination wedding or the nuptials of a born-and-raised local bride, all adhere to time-honored wedding traditions, including the phrase that promises luck for each bride that wears “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

I thought I’d apply those words to those that haven’t taken the time to explore their own backyards, to give you a chance to start your own romantic relationship with Florida’s Paradise Coast with the very best of luck.

Something old

The Naples Pier is a top candidate for a visit to something old in Naples, even though it’s new again.

The pier, first constructed in 1889, was damaged in the hurricanes of 1910, 1926, 1935, 1944 and 1960, when the pier collapsed in level-5 winds and water during Hurricane Donna.

The pier was rebuilt each time and became the most visited attraction in modern Naples. Today, it has an all-new shine.

A total renovation of the pier last summer brought stronger wood planks and pilings, new restrooms and sea turtle-friendly lighting at night. Go for sunset and you’ll be in the good company of hundreds of potentially new friends.

If you’d like a theatrical take on Marco Island’s history from ancient to modern, I can highly recommend the Marco Island Frightseeing Tour.

Gina Sisbarro plays “Mother Horror” in her Marco Horror Frightseeing trolley tour.

“Martha Horror,” in reality, theater director Gina Sisbarro, and her crew of assistants take you on a dramatic journey through the rather murderous history of Marco Island, from the days of the Calusa Indians through the early pioneers to present day.

This tour would be great fun for groups of friends and family in town for a destination wedding or anyone seeking the truly haunted history of Marco Island.

MarcoMurderandMayhem@gmail.com, 239-537-8353, departure location Bistro Soleil at Olde Marco Inn, 100 Palm St., Marco Island or 239-269-8051.

Something new

Hyatt House Naples/5th Avenue opened its doors on March 15, the newest full hotel to open in Naples since 2008, and you really have to see the place.

New Hyatt House Naples 5th Avenue.

Modern Florida architecture by Matt Kragh and a view of the Gordon River are magic.

The casual bar/restaurant Latitude 26 provides a classy-yet-causal and very chill atmosphere for both downtown Naples after-work types and vacationers.

Something borrowed

Naples holds the distinction of No. 1 Small Art Town in America, and it’s not hard to figure out why. There are some fantastic art organizations throughout the area.

The Baker Museum at Artis-Naples has consistently compelling on-loan exhibitions, including the fascinating and somewhat mind-blowing paintings of Spanish artist Paco Pomet.

Contemplate the surrealist’s art for free at the next Art After Hours on March 30, with free admission, live music and docent tours of the museum’s 15 galleries.

Art After Hours happens on the last Wednesday of each month.

Something blue

This one is easy. Gaze at the amazing daytime Florida sky, bright blue punctuated by white clouds and accented by the green fronds of the native sabal palm.

On Facebook there is even a group called Florida Cloud Appreciation Society that celebrates the amazing colors and patterns of our state’s amazing sky.

Next, turn your gaze upon the Gulf of Mexico, especially if you’re lucky enough to hitch a ride on a boat cruising more than 20 miles offshore.

Your challenge is to try to identify all the various shades of blue as you gaze into the deep waters of the Gulf.

JoNell Modys is the public relations and communications manager for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing organization for Collier County, where more than 1.8 million visitors annually provide an economic impact of almost $2 billion. Check the destination website, paradisecoast. com, for more ideas on what to see and do in Florida’s Paradise Coast.

Spot a ghost!

Looking for a ghostly good time? The Marco Murder and Mayhem Historical trolley ride leaving from the Olde Marco Inn takes riders through the hills and outskirts of Marco with stops six different locations of interest where either ghosts have been spotted or a murder has taken place.

“Usually its a murder surrounding the ghost,” said founder of the tour Gina Sisbarro, otherwise known as guide Martha Horror to those taking the tour and dressed in black lace. Each stop riders get off to hear stories and are encouraged to snap pictures with the possibility of capturing a photograph of one of the islands ghosts.

Cindy Anderson rode on one of the first tours.

“In my opinion this was indeed a professional presentation. Your research, careful and detailed planning, performance and charisma were superb,” said Anderson. “I believe you have a winner with Marco for tourists and residents.”

Keely Stiner went on the tour in February.

Private tours of 20 or more are available and are catching on fast. One group coming to Naples for a wedding wanted to take the tour. Vacationers have taken the ghost tour with their members. “So the private tours have really gone crazy,” said Sisbarro with plans to add more tours at the business grows.

For information on time and rates visit marcomurderand mayhem.vtweb.com or call 239-537-8353.