Naples, Florida... a land of beautiful sunsets, fabulous food and an entrance to the amazing intracoastal waterways. Similar, yet different from my home in San Diego, Naples' gorgeous late October weather warmed our bones and gave these tired parents a much needed rest with its leisurely pace.
Arriving at The Naples Bay Resort, porters greeted us with friendly smiles and as much information about Naples as we desired. From restaurant recommendations to parking tips, these guys made us feel immediately welcome and had us in our upgraded two-bedroom suite in no time.
Perfect for families, our 1,300 square foot two-bedroom suite included a full kitchen, living room plus dining area, two roomy bedrooms (I love the fans over the beds!), two bathrooms (master with separate jacuzzi tub and shower), front-load washer and dryer, and a balcony complete with table and chairs.
From our third floor location, the sunset brought a lovely view overlooking the marina and we enjoyed watching boats come and go throughout the day.
Located just below our room, the Bonefish Grill sent up occasional mouthwatering aromas, and proved to be an ideal location for dinner with that gorgeous marina sunset view. Coming from the West Coast, Bonefish is not a restaurant I'm familiar with, but apparently it has quite a following.
While our server highly recommended a Bonefish specialty, the Bang Bang Shrimp, my eye spied another shrimp offering, the Thai Coconut Shrimp. After a day of exploring and driving, the arrival of the Thai shrimp had us both gasping slightly and trying not to appear anxious as the server took our meal order. Politely offering each other to go first, we ended up grabbing shrimps at the same time and smiles of satisfaction replaced our hungry furrowed brows. Combined with a nice glass of half-priced happy hour wine, this appetizer ranks up there in my "I loved it" book.
Dinner for both of us was the grilled salmon, which was indeed cooked perfectly, though a tad sweet for my taste. The mango salsa provided an excellent compliment, with steamed veggies and rice rounding out the meal. While this is my only experience at Bonefish, the happy patrons, many of whom were obviously returning visitors, have me hereby hoping Bonefish makes its way west. A good, well cooked meal for a decent price, I very much enjoyed our dinner.
But what made Naples Bay Resort special to me, is their boat rental option that had us cruising the intracoastal waterways in our very own bowrider. Asking my husband if he could drive a boat, his comment of, "Well... I can fly a plane, how different can it be?" had me just a little worried, but I need not have been.
Wind in our faces we zipped through the mangroves alongside pelicans and dolphins. Eyes peeled for the elusive manatee, we didn't see any on this visit, but I hear they are present. Intricate nests covering most of the waterway signs caught my attention, and we saw a nesting osprey or two as we passed by.
Perfect for liesure, one can cover the island in less than a minute. Strolling from the waterways to the gulf, shells of all sorts covered the stretches of white sand and had families spending hours shelling the area. I never tired of a child's shriek of "Look what I found!!" as they gathered a newfound treasure into their plastic bucket, and truth be told, I had the urge to shriek a few times myself.
After an exhilarating day on the water, our appetites once again made themselves known. As luck would have it, one of my all time favorite restaurants, Roy's, can be found just about a block from Naples Bay Resort. Originating in Honolulu in 1988, Roy Yamaguchi invented "fusion cusine" by blending classic techniques with adventurous Pacific Rim flavors. Not to gush... but I've never had anything at Roy's that I didn't absolutely love.
Enjoying a lovely sake as the sun once again made its move towards the ocean, relaxation began to set in. My husband's Blackened Island Ahi made its way onto his top 10 meals list, and my Sun-dried Tomato Risotto quickly eased me into pure comfort.
But no visit to Roy's is complete without the Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle. Requiring an order at the beginning of the meal, the soufflé arrives to your table piping hot from the oven. Decadent, rich chocolate pools from the center when cut and contrasts beautifully with the small scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream and a drizzle of raspberry sauce. A little piece of heaven on a plate? I think yes.
Pleasantly satiated, our last stop in Naples took us through the adorable and busy little downtown. Filled with tempting restaurants and enough shopping to fill your entire day, 5th Avenue will also get you to the ocean, and on the ocean we found the Naples Pier.
Simply stunning at sunset, travelers and locals alike make their way to the pier to watch the sun dip once again into the gulf. With a blazing orange sky, dolphins frolicking in the waves and pelicans diving for dinner, the Pier brought our time in Naples to a lovely close.
Next stop? Ft. Lauderdale and the Seabourn Sojourn... stay tuned!