When my wife first asked me if I wanted to visit Naples, Florida, I had the same reaction as most: “I think I have a grandmother that lives down there.” She laughed at me, I told her I was serious, but it wasn’t until 3 years later, after I had visited twice and decided to move down there on a whim that I realized that Naples reputation is only partially warranted, at best.
Naples certainly is ripe with 55+ communities, old money, gated communities in which your Homeowner’s Association Fees cost more than most people’s mortgages, and community bingo centers. But all of these things are seamlessly embedded in sub-tropical paradise that, over the last 15 years, has exploded in a fury of commercialism. Downtown Naples is still very much a classy destination, commonly drawing an older crowd. But bars like Yabba’s are challenging that with DJ’s, laser lights, and an elegant under 40 crowd.
Moving beyond downtown, Naples is a cornucopia of activity for the bar-hopper, the foodie, the socialite, the beach bum, the camper, the fisher, the boater, the nature lover, the tree-hugger, the artist, the musician, the golfer, and the hedonist. And why not live a life of pleasure, especially when you are surrounded by palm trees, perfect weather for 6 months of the year, and some of the best white sand beaches on the planet.
Located at the South West tip of Florida, as far South as you can go without being completely inundated by The Everglades, Naples and it’s surrounding areas are home to a dazzling array of Wildlife and Nature. Coming from the North East, I’m constantly amazed by the size and grace of the birds and the fish seen on a daily basis. Having a great egret or an osprey swoop down for a meal in your back yard is something you can only read about in most parts of the country. I’ve seen it so many times, I could write a book on the feeding habits of great South West Florida birds. Or at least write an Ezine Article.
The landscape and the wildlife are what so amazed me in moving to this part of Florida, as well as the activities that are derived from these two attractions. After basking in it for a year, I realized that these two things have created a place unlike any other in the United States, especially if you happen to be a typical guy. If you enjoy the outdoors, forget anywhere else. It’s time to come to Naples, FL. And here’s why.
Naples and it’s surrounding area are home to some of the biggest and best fish anywhere. From snook to tarpon, to bass and redfish, catfish and even some large species of sharks. You can sit on a dock in the canal by your house and pick out bass(there’s never one far away), or boat up to Boca Grande and land a 200lb tarpon. You can stand on the sun-kissed evening beach of Sanibel Island and pull in an 8 foot hammerhead while watching an earth-shattering sunset, or kayak through the 10,000 islands in gator country–hell, you can even hunt gator (seasonally, of course)!
Want to go camping in Naples? Choose your time wisely. Every year, thousands travel to this area of Florida to camp like god intended. And every year, inexperienced campers vow to never camp again. Camping in and around Naples, especially in the Florida summer, is not like camping anywhere else. To understand why, you need to understand one fundamental concept: Human beings were not meant to live in South West Florida.
Naples before civilization
was an abysmal place. Mosquitoes he size of your hand, no-seeums, blister beetles, feral hogs, panthers, alligators, and other nuisances absolutely dominated the region less than 75 years ago. It was nothing but swamps, mud, bugs, and animals that would gladly take a bit out of you if given the chance. Somewhere along the line, some visionary developers decided it could be a paradise with a little building up, cutting back, and bug spray. Today, crop-dusting airplanes drop thousands of pounds of insecticide yearly, development has pushed all those ornery critters out of their homes and into The Everglades (and selected campsites), and the human invasion has made creatures like the Florida Panther nearly extinct. However, all of these things still exist, especially if you choose the right (or wrong) campsite and the right (or wrong) time of year.
Why would I tell you all of this in trying to convince you that Naples is a camper’s dream? Because it is! There are plenty of locations for fair-weather campers and RVers to go year round. It also has campsites for the most rugged, “Survivorman” types. Locations range from pitching a tent right on the beach to burying yourself deep in The Everglades, for the more authentic experience. I’ve done both; I’ve camped out of my car right next to the water and had a fantastic “outdoors” experience, complete with a nice warm shower and a bathroom. I’ve also made the 8 mile kayak to Cayo Costa into a headwind, against the current, up hill both ways and “roughed it” for a weekend of irreparable sunburn, loss of blood due to mosquitoes, and beetles with saliva so toxic it literally makes your skin boil. Add to that a late night rainstorm that chased all of the no-seeums into our tent for cover, and a snack, and I had myself a “Real Florida” experience. Ask me which one I preferred. Hint: I don’t have any nicknames like Bear, Hunter, or Survivorman.
The bottom line – for any type of camper, there is a perfect campsite a short drive away.
Who doesn’t love golf? You? Oh. Well if you did, then you’d have found yourself another niche paradise. Naples is home to some of the fanciest, most expensive, most beautiful golf courses in the country. There is something about deep white bunkers, tall swaying palms, expansive water hazards weaving through the entire course like a spreading disease, and lush green grass that makes you forget about slicing your tee shot on 5 off the roof of a condo. It’s his fault for building a dwelling there!
With numerous WCI courses within a 2-iron’s throw away, Greg Norman designed courses, the famous Naples Beach Club, and hundreds of other courses littering the map from Everglades City to Punta Gorda (literally–look at the Google map of the area, there are golf courses EVERYWHERE), championship golf is never in short supply. Worried about spending your life savings on a few rounds of golf? Wait until the summer time, when golf, and everything else in South West Florida, is a lot cheaper.
Ah yes, that (hopefully) floating vehicle into which you dump all of your extra income. And why would you pay that money anywhere but here? Naples is home to some of the grandest waterways anywhere, and you’ll never run out of places to explore and open water to cruise. The often calm Gulf of Mexico is perfect for traveling north and south by boat, discovering some of the most unique and private beaches anywhere in the United States. For east and west travel, the Naples area offers a seemingly endless supply of rivers, canals, estuaries, bays, and inlets to explore with friends and/or family. Almost any of the aforementioned activities can be paired with boating, such as: boating to a campsite; boating to a fishing spot, boating to a golf course (perhaps?), or just boating for the sake of boating. Whether you have an inflatable dinghy or a 75-foot luxury yacht, Naples offers premier boating for all types.
And how could I forget the best part? You can use your boat in Naples all year round. The water rarely gets colder than 65 degrees, and the air is 78 and sunny every day from October to May. And what about from June through September? You’ll want to be on the boat even more to cool off in the blazing summer heat.
Don’t want to have the responsibility of owning your own boat? Rent one occasionally for very reasonable prices or join one of a dozen boat clubs in the area. There’s always an easier way in Naples, as long as you’re willing to pay for it.
White sand, turquoise water, warm sun, cold drinks, and beautiful women. Or, weekends in SW Florida. Naples is a jumping off point for all of these things. While the Southern Naples beaches themselves are often touristy and reflective of the median age in the area, North Naples and up provides relief from the masses. Doc’s Beach House at Bonita Beach is one of dozens of beachfront bars and restaurants providing solace to the work week. Traveling north along Hickory Blvd provides more and more perfect gulf beaches and waterways, leading to Ft. Myers Beach, the local spot for the younger crowds to gather en masse amidst a sea of beach front bars and shopping. Continue north to explore Sanibel and Captiva, world-renowned for shelling (what man’s man doesn’t love a pristine Fighting Conch) and it’s white sand beaches.
There is a beach for everybody in or around Naples, as long as you know where to look.
The biggest selling point
Living in Naples will cost you a fraction of what it will cost you in Miami, New York, L.A. or any of the big coastal cities. Not to mention, none of your friends are getting waxed and botoxed before dropping what little of their paycheck they have left over after paying rent on jagerbombs at the bar. Naples is for regular folks like you and I who decided to leave the city life to city folk and enjoy the beach, the weather, and good ol’ Mother Nature. So what is all this going to cost you?
A 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home of about 1500 sq ft is starting around $100,000. Yes, one-hundred thousand, I didn’t forget any zeros–and deals can be found for MUCH less. Homes like these within a few miles of the beach are going to rise in price, but only to about $200k-$300k. Get within 1 mile and that will rise again, but not all that much. How is this all possible? Why are homes so cheap? Two reasons:
- Naples is recovering from the latest housing crisis, which affected SW Florida worse than almost anywhere else in the country.
- Naples is a largely undiscovered gem with thousands of homes just waiting to be filled by the “New Neapolitans”
So forget conventional wisdom and what you thought you knew about Naples. Naples and SW Florida is a gateway to everything a man, or anyone wants. Beaches, boating, golfing, the great outdoors, and fishing are all world class in this little part of the globe. Reserve your piece of paradise now before the rest of the world catches up. Need help? I’d be happy to help finance and guide your foray into endless days of sun, fun, and happiness.