On Florida’s Paradise Coast, you can wine-and-dine, shop-’til-you-drop, stroll on the beach, luxuriate in a hotel suite, get pampered at a spa–the list goes on and on.
But Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades is also a wonderful place to go exploring via bicycle all year long. From scenic trails to where to find gear and bike rentals, here’s how to experience Florida’s Paradise Coast on two wheels.
Biking in Naples
A bike-friendly town, Naples features more than 30 miles of cycling pathways. Many of the city’s roads have well-marked bike lanes, and it’s fun to take a leisurely cruise around downtown, stopping every now and again to shop or dine. The city also has dedicated pedestrian and cycling trails. Here are three renowned for their views and convenient access from anywhere in Naples.
Gordon River Greenway
This scenic, 12-foot-wide trail cuts through Gordon River Greenway Park, where you’ll encounter abundant wildlife and natural Florida beauty just a few minutes from downtown Naples. The trail’s two-and-a-half miles are made of asphalt and mulch, with boardwalks interspersed; it meanders through six different native plant communities. As the name suggests, large portions of the route run along the Gordon River. Its most convenient point of entry is at the northern end, where there’s a parking lot. You can also access the trail via a lot just south of the Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens. Though you can speed your way through this trail, it’s better suited for a leisurely pedal, with some stops to take in the views along the way.
Rich King Memorial Greenway
Five miles east of downtown Naples, this straight, three-mile paved trail runs through neighborhoods and along a canal, from Rattlesnake Hammock Road northward to Radio Road. With easy access and a well-maintained surface, it’s ideal for a quick, no-hassle ride.
Clam Pass Park
A gorgeous, 35-acre beach access park, Clam Pass is just six miles north of downtown and is perfect for a relaxing ride on a beach cruiser. A half-mile boardwalk takes you through a thicket of mangroves, crosses over Outer Clam Bay, and ends up at an unspoiled white-sand Gulf of Mexico beach.
Naples Bike Rentals
Big Momma’s Bicycles
Something of an institution in Naples, this large, centrally located shop rents by the hour, day, week, and even month. The selection at Big Momma’s includes traditional cruisers, road-racing bikes, recumbents, and even adult tricycles. The staff will help you to plan a ride that suits your desires, whether it’s a leisurely cruise or an intensive 40-mile workout. They also do repairs.
Beach Bum Bike Rentals & Delivery
This mobile bike-rental delivery service, headquartered downtown, offers comfortable beach cruisers, hybrids, and kids’ bikes. Beach Bum will deliver to hotels, condos, and vacation rentals – in short, wherever you’re staying.
Biking in Marco Island
Toolin’ around Marco Island – sun on your shoulders, breeze in your face, scenery everywhere – is among the great pleasures of visiting this luxury getaway. The town features several miles of on-road bike lanes, as well as shared-use streets. You can safely cruise beachside along South Collier Boulevard, then head east and explore the array of upscale neighborhoods.
Venture just a little ways off the main island to see and enjoy even more.
At this secluded gated community, you get an eyeful of grand waterfront homes. At the western end, you’ll encounter a historic site, Captain Horr’s Pineapple Plantation, which dates back to 1877. Cyclists can enter Key Marco, but you must show a driver’s license.
Shell Island Road
If you’re up for a somewhat longer ride, point yourself north and pedal to this street that leads to Rookery Bay, a pristine national estuarine research area with 110,000 acres of mangrove forests. For three-plus miles, you’ll have nothing but green space on either side. Make a short detour to the Briggs Boardwalk Observation Deck. Departing from Marco Beach, the 11-mile trek will require you to cross the Jolley West Bridge and travel six miles up Collier Boulevard. So if you’re shy about cycling on main roads, find a parking spot at Old Marco Junction where Collier Boulevard meets Shell Island Road. Near the terminus, you’ll find Rookery Bay Reserve Kayak Tours, just in case you feel like adding some paddle to your pedal.
On the southern end of the main island, this area is an easy, three-mile ride from area resorts. Besides breathtaking views of spectacular homes and Caxambas Bay, Indian Hill includes the Outer Mound Preserve, a green oasis with a 700-foot trail that has a packed mulch surface. (You may opt to park your bike and stroll through.) The preserve is home to ancient Calusa Indian shell mounds and native Florida wildlife.
Where to Rent a Bike in Marco Island
Marco Island Bike Rentals
Located less than two miles east of the beach, Marco Island Bike Rentals has an array of bike types, including all-electric, fat-tire models. They’ll deliver the bike of your choice to you on Marco Island — and pick it up when you’re done. Talk about easy!
Island Bike Shop
Situated on the northern end of the island, this store rents everything from single-gear models with a foot brake and basket to carbon-framed performance bikes. Adrenaline junkies can choose one of their electric bikes that will go up to 25 mph. You can rent kids’ bikes, too, with training wheels if needed. Island Bike Shop delivers and picks up and has repair service as well.
Biking Around the Everglades
Ready for a more challenging trek? Venture into the Big Cypress National Preserve, which is part of the natural wonder known as The Everglades. You can ride along I-75 (Alligator Alley), U.S. 41 farther south, or any of the other paved roads, stopping at your whim. Or you can venture deeper into the preserve. Here are a couple of adventurous (but safe) rides, as well as a tame one.
Fire Prairie Trail
This unpaved 4.5-mile trail a few miles south of Alligator Alley consists of hard-packed sand and grass. You don’t need a dirt bike, but it can be rough in spots, so make sure your bike is up to it. A few hundred yards in, as you find yourself surrounded by grasslands and scrub, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can access the Fire Prairie Trail from State Road 839.
Bear Island Backcountry
Located a few miles north of Alligator Alley and east of SR 839, this area is home to the Bear Island Campground and several extended roads and trails with surfaces of hard-packed sand, shells, and gravel. If you’re up for a test, start at State Road 29 and wind your way eight miles east to the campground. Your entire trip will be deep in the heart of the park.
Everglades City to Chokoloskee
For a comfortable ride on a paved road, start in quaint Everglades City (in fact, have a ride around town first), then head four miles southeast to the thoroughly rustic island town of Chokoloskee. Both of these quiet little towns offer relaxed bike touring with very little car traffic, along with old-Florida places to see, eat and drink.
If you’re cycling Big Cypress, plan to rent your bike in Naples or Marco Island. Better yet, bring your own and make your visit the stuff of cycling legend!