The Southwest Region of Florida is often referred to as the Shell Coast, due to its abundance of shells on the beaches of the Marco Island
. The area is partly comprised of parks, wildlife refuges and preserves. Visitors can find solitude in such places as Pine Island, Captiva
, and the group of islands called the Ten Thousand Islands.
Near Placida is the only privately owned toll booth in Florida on the way to beautiful Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande, home of the world's biggest tarpon fishing tournament. Here, the period from mid-spring until early fall is the quietest (due to the exodus of part-time residents and tourists). Wildlife lovers may spot bald eagles, osprey, manatees, roseate spoonbills, rare white pelicans, and non-native iguanas.
Other places to visit in the region are Punta Gorda where the conquistadors came ashore in 1513, led by Ponce de Leon; Thomas Edison's Museum and winter home in Fort Myers; and numerous attractions in Naples, such as Historic Olde Naples, the zoological gardens and Jungle Larry's. A little to the north of Naples, Vanderbilt Beach offers elegant hotels and resorts.