2023 Holiday Wish List

Give the Gift of Nature in SWFL

Deliver alfresco escapes to the outdoor enthusiast in your life with seaside picnics, yachting, glamping and seaplane jaunts.

BY December 1, 2023
Beach picnic
(Courtesy Picnic Culture)

When luxurious alfresco afternoons and awe-inspiring excursions are what your loved ones want, we’ve got the lowdown on where to make their wishes come true. While cross-country and international voyages are always à la mode, you don’t have to leave Southwest Florida to create experiences with wow factor. Pick one or all of these ventures and win this year’s gift swap.

Picnic Chic

Lounging en plein air never looks as good as a dreamy outdoor spread by Picnic Culture. Gift one to your #couplesgoals parents or any other lovebirds you know in need of quality time. Owner and event planner Natasha Rinehart can craft a whimsical garden tea worthy of Alice in Wonderland, complete with full tea service, fine china, fresh flowers and a bevy of pastel blankets and pillows under fringed umbrellas. Or, they can opt for a Tulum-
inspired beach day, lazing under a draped tent with margaritas and s’mores stations.

The recipients of your thoughtful present can nibble from grazing platters and sip specialty drinks at low-slung picnic tables with stylized tablescapes, sun coverage and decor themed to guests’ specifications. Bar set-ups, bocce ball and other beach-friendly games—as well as an on-site concierge tending to their needs and desires—customize the experience. Package periods range from two to three hours, but for in-home picnics, Natasha says your loved ones can linger a little longer.

Add styled shoot packages with backdrops, balloon garlands and a professional photographer to capture the day. A decadent picnic at your loved one’s favorite location, whether by the beach, in a park or in your (or their) backyard takes thoughtfulness to the next level.


Cruise Control

Almost everything is more magical aboard a yacht. Charter a three-hour sunset cruise or one-week excursion from Time 4 U at Rose Marina on Marco Island to treat your friends and family—or both. The 72-foot-long 2020 Galeon FLY is large enough to give all the glam vibes, accommodating up to eight people overnight in four staterooms, including a sprawling primary suite. Gather for cocktails or lounge in the salon, take meals in the dining area and party on the flybridge, complete with a full bar and sunbathing pad. Beverages, toiletries, fluffy towels and robes await.

Quick trips provide ample time to sail along Port Royal Canals or dock at nearby Keewaydin Island for swimming. More extended charters can explore wildlife on Panther Key in the Ten Thousands Islands or the lively River District in Fort Myers.

Custom add-ons include a romantic dinner catered by a private chef, pre-
departure Geneo facials, destressing chair massages or a quick Botox treatment onboard by the Time 4 U Med Spa team. For charters six hours or more, a complimentary party bus whisks your group to the dock in style. Mix-and-match to create a gift to buoy your crew’s spirits well beyond the new year.


Camp Culture

The Ten Thousand Islands are home to some of the most coveted shells for beachcombers, and the islands’ Shell Camp Florida at Kice Island is a sheller’s fever dream. Julie Adrian, a Florida Coast Master Naturalist, leads the all-inclusive, four-day shelling and eco-conscious glamping trip.

The immersive camp is set on a 2-mile stretch of preserved land, only accessible by boat. Shellers spend days and nights fortifying themselves during family-style meals with surf-and-turf entrees and homemade desserts, prepared on site by a chef. Each night, a dedicated tabletop campfire for s’mores precedes restful slumber by the water in roomy double-occupancy tents, outfitted with cots, fans and lighting.

By day, shellers comb through the sugar-white sands and mangrove forests for Scotch bonnets, true tulips, large horse conchs (the official state shell of Florida) and the rare Junonia—the holy grail. The island also proves prime real estate for shore fishing and bird watching as a nesting site for thousands of birds. Nightfall brings breathtaking opportunities to stargaze in one of Florida’s last dark sky sites. Don’t be surprised if your favorite sheller is inspired to name one of those stars after you.


Above and Beyond

Send the high flyers in your life skimming over the Gulf’s warm waters, watching the undulating coastline and twisting waterways unfold below during a sky tour with Naples-based Salt Island Seaplanes. Founded by former commercial pilot Jon Rector, the seaplane charter takes up to four loved ones (perhaps with you along for the ride) over land and sea from the Marco Island Executive Airport in an amphibious Cessna 206 seaplane. With altitude capabilities at around 1,000 to 1,500 feet high, seaplanes provide intimate landscape and water views while the assigned pilot guides passengers through the landmarks below. “And, we typically do a water landing somewhere during the tours so you can have the real seaplane experience,” Jon says. 

Flyers can take lunch to enjoy on the beach during an hour-and-a-half stay in the The Ten Thousand Islands or Captiva Island, where the plane lands at the landmark ’Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa for a leisurely meal at any of the three on-site restaurants. A seaplane adventure trumps a gift certificate every time.  

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