Calusa Island Marina is found on the shores of southern Marco Island, within the borders of the old fishing village of Goodland. There’s lots of good places to eat within walking distance, including my personal favorite, “Little Bar.” Entering this facility can be a little tricky for first-timers, and the shallowest portion of the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway lies nearby with MLW depths of as little as 4 1/2 feet.
Calusa Island Marina update as of Feb. 1st, 2011. From Claiborne Young’s outstanding 2008 Cruising Guide to West Florida (7th ed.), he implied that Calusa would be cruiser friendly in our hour of need. They are. VERY. Our story follows the important facts: Calusa has now made available a dinghy dock fee for we who prefer the hook at night. The fee includes shoreside access, showers and laundry. Transient “dockers” are still very welcome too. Andrew Barksdale whose card says “President” and “Managing Partner”, absolutely ROCKS. I now think of him as “can do – Andrew”. That spirit runs thru what we saw of the operation. “Just ask first and we’ll make it work,” is what he told me referring to out-of-the-box arrangements. The protected anchorage in Blue Hill Creek has good depths for a half mile beyond him, Andrew said. Calusa has Block Ice! Gas prices competitive with Marco. Their water tasted very good on the day we filled up (after ASKING FIRST). Groceries, Ace Hardware with LP refill station (see our story below) and West Marine are about 3 and a half miles. We have our own bike which makes that easy for us in flat S. FLorida. Andrew has plans to have loaner bicycles available to dinghy dock users in March and I strongly encouraged that ASAP. A loaner car is hopefully in the works for next season. Goodland’s restaurants are a big draw as is prominently mentioned in the Guide (as well as above). We too have been told that Marker 8 Restaurant is good. The lunch special at Little Bar is still good at ~$6.95 we hear.
Our story: 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning at Tiger Key about 12 miles South and East of Goodland/Calusa Island Marina. A defective back-up propane 20 lb bottle (seal completely missing!!! on Blue Rhino exchange LP bottle – we’ll check that in future before accepting an exchange) won’t connect at all, which means our fridge and its contents will soon be room temp… Claiborne’s superlative guide steers me toward Calusa as my first call (on the cell). Andrew answers. He tells me that I can get my empty tank REFILLED at the Ace in S. Marco on a Sunday. ” I just filled mine there, so I know they have it.” he tells me. “Can you be here before noon?” he asks. We do. And he drives me in his car to Ace for a very reasonable charge. And the refill was less $ than the (defective) exchange had been at Winn Dixie in N. Marco (see Side note at end). The fridge stays cold. The food is saved. And we find a truly welcoming facility for cruisers like us who genuinely prefer lying on an anchor at night to docking. Showers, laundry, block ice and a friendly welcome. Perfect.
We really enjoyed our stay. Even though we were towed in and had a gps track to follow, we ran aground, so be careful
We called Tow Boat US for EXCELLENT blow by blow tips for this “inside” route thru Marco Island. We draw 4′ & still had a few “white knuckle” moments passing thru at mid-tide. Well worth it tho.”
Linda Gimbel Hughes