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By water or by land: Salty Sam’s Marina is a boater’s playground

February 20, 2019
By JESSE MEADOWS ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Picture this.

It's a beautiful day in Matanzas Pass, your boat is swaying softly on the water, and all your friends are smiling in the sun.

But there's one thing wrong.

Article Photos

A variety of chartered cruises operate from the docks at Salty Sam's.


You're hungry, and you're running out of gas. Where can a famished boater refuel?

Or, here's an alternative scenario: You're standing on the skybridge, looking out over glittering waves dotted with boats of all sizes, wishing you were behind the wheel of one.

What's a boatless boater to do?

Tucked away behind the shrimp boats on San Carlos Island is an answer to both of these questions: Salty Sam's Waterfront Adventures.

For the hungry boater, the dockmaster can be reached on channel 16 or 17.

They'll guide you in to the marina's restaurant parking, get you fed, and even help you fuel up on your way out.

The Ship Store is stocked with boat supplies, snacks, and souvenirs, and the marina offers a full range of maintenance and detailing services.

The property boasts a four-level barn for dry storage that can accommodate around 250 vessels, anywhere from 18 to 42 feet in size.

"We'll do what's called 'splashing' their boat. We get the forklift out and we drop their boat in the water and get it all fueled up and cleaned for them. All they have to do is show up and sign in, and they can take their boat out," said David Kastan, marketing manager

There's space for live-aboards, too, with access to laundry, showers, and wifi, and slips on the dock that can accommodate boats up to 200 feet.

And if you're stuck on land? Salty Sam's has a 30-boat rental fleet, the largest on Fort Myers Beach, offering half or full-day rental rates.

"Anything from pontoons to bowriders to beachcats, and we're adding more boats to the fleet this year, too," said Kastan.

If you'd rather not pilot your own boat, Salty Sam's is home to all manner of chartered cruises and fishing tours.

They operate a 90-minute pirate cruise aboard a 65-foot Spanish galleon replica, a shelling tour to uninhabited barrier islands, and of course, a sunset cruise.

They also feature specialty rum cruises in collaboration with Wicked Dolphin Distillery.

"We usually do a barrel tapping where we let the rum age in an open barrel for a month, and on the special rum cruises, we tap it that night so everybody can drink out of the barrel," Kastan said.

As boating is an appetite-stimulating activity, Salty Sam's is prepared with two full-service restaurants.

Parrot Key Caribbean Grill is an open-air waterfront venue with a tiki bar vibe, famous for dishes like the crab, avocado, and mango stack and Captain Morgan grouper.

The restaurant features live entertainment every night, with country music at the Gatlin dinner show every Tuesday and Wednesday, singer/songwriter Julie Savannah on Fridays and Sundays, and the popular impersonator Frank Torino on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

"He does Tom Jones, Elvis...people love that show. We don't take reservations for it because it's so popular," Kastan said.

Parrot Key is also the area's largest Green Bay Packer bar - the owners, Darrell and Matt Hanson, are a father and son duo originally from the Madison, Wisconsin area.

"Lambeau Field is where the Packers play up in Wisconsin. This is officially Lambeau South," said Kastan.

From January to March, the property hosts 11 "State Days", with special state-themed menus for homesick snowbirds.

Wisconsin Day, on Feb. 27 this year, is one of their biggest events.

"Both restaurants are fully decorated, with live music all day, morning, and night. We set up a big tent in the middle for alumni groups," said Kastan.

Another event on the first and third Monday of the month is especially for car enthusiasts. The Caribbean Cruise-In Car Show features 100-200 hotrods, antiques, and muscle cars to gawk at with a cocktail in hand.

"It's got a real festival atmosphere," he said.

Next door to Parrot Key is the Shrimp Dock, an old shrimp packing facility turned authentic shrimp shanty.

"It's what we call boat-to-plate. I went with the chef down to the boat, and he picked out shrimp that had just come off the boat and we brought it straight down to the restaurant. That's how our shrimp get there, straight off the boat, right around the property and into the kitchen," he said.

Formerly Island Packing Company, the interior has been redecorated to inspire nostalgia for the golden era of shrimping on Fort Myers Beach.

Historic photographs dot the walls, telling the story of the first modern shrimp packing facility in the area.

The menu features a full page dedicated to shrimp, with dishes like Caribbean Stuffed Shrimp and Blackened Shrimp Scampi, and happy hour every day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

One of their biggest attractions, Kastan said, is the large open-air deck behind the Shrimp Dock, where the view makes seating highly competitive.

"It's really the most popular spot in the whole restaurant. Everybody wants to sit down there and watch the sunset over the bridge," he said.

So picture this: a plate of fresh Gulf shrimp, a cold beer, and your boat docked safely nearby, while the sky turns pink in the distance.

Problems solved.

Salty Sam's is at 2500 Main Street, Fort Myers Beach, and if you're arriving from the water, the marina is at latitude N 26.457 and longitude W 81.944.

For more information, check online at or call 239-463-7333.



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