Driving up to the beach entrance, I knew all was well by the friendly greeting I received. Lee, the Booth Attendant, has been working at the Tigertail booth part-time for four years and I was amazed by how friendly and happy she seemed. She waved me through, since I had a Collier County Beach Parking Permit. Otherwise, the fee for entering all Collier County beach parking lots is $8.00. Once in the park at Tigertail, there is bountiful parking, and boardwalksfacilitate easy access to the beach from almost anywhere.
The complete facility is comfortable, well constructed and beautiful. Tony Smith has had the Tigertail concession for twenty-two years. This includes not only the café, but cabanas, kayaks and other water vehicles. Stepping up onto the inviting boardwalk, to the left is a state of the art playground separated into two areas: one for tiny tots and one for elementary age children. To the right of the playground is the Tigertail Beach Café, specializing in their most popular item, Veggie Wrap. On the menu is ice cream, coffee, other drinks and grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches. Tony said his wife is Italian and adds her special touch to the menu! The table and chairs with colorful umbrellas on the deck, overlooking Florida fauna and thebeach beyond, is very inviting. Packed lunches can be ordered for the beach, boating and kayaking. The café phone number is 239-389-8414.
On the boardwalk to the beach is an educational area rest stop. Subjects include The Mystery of Ocean Tides, Hurricane Catching the Current, Types of Fish in the Gulf of Mexico, The Everglades Eco System at Risk, and a Marine Timeline which notes the time it takes for various items to decompose. The Cousteau Society estimates that six million tons of waste enters the oceans every year. For instance, it takes an aluminum can 200 years to decompose, a regular disposable diaper 450 years, a biodegradable diaper one year, a painted wooden stick thirteen years, and a plastic bottle never!
Tony is from London but as a young boy was in America for a while.He witnessed the Apollo 14 taking off and told me that was the day that he fell in love with America. He was a soldier in England before coming to America to live. Besides being responsible for the concession at Tigertail, Coach Tony is head soccer coach at Charter Middle School and assistant coach for the girls’ soccer team at Lely
At the beach are cabanas and a slew of water vehicles. Tony said that, because of all the lagoons and the inlet, the area is one of the best for kayaking in Collier County. Kayaking the waterway north you are on part of the great Florida Birding Trail. The park is offering a special kayak price from now until the rest of the year: If you pay for a kayak for one hour at 9a.m., you get four hours free. Tony also mentioned that the best kayaking in the Tigertail area is two hours before high tide.
The park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk and the concession is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fee, without a permit, is $8. A Collier County Beach Parking Permit can be obtained at the Marco Library on S. Heathwood. All you need is I.D. and proof of Collier County residency. I showed my car registration to the helpful librarian. The permit is accepted at all Collier County Beach parking lots such as Marco Island’s South Beach County parking lot, Vanderbilt, Barefoot Beach, and Clam Pass. If you have a beach permit, you won’t need to feed any coins into the parking meters at the beach parking lots. A non-residential beach parking permit is sold at Tigertail for $50.