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Gasparilla Island

by Charlie Peay on November 9th, 2009

Gasparilla Island is a scenic barrier island located just off the southwest coast of Florida between Fort Myers and Sarasota. Separated from the mainland by Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor, this idyllic tropical island boasts recreational opportunities for swimming, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving and nature viewing along with world-renowned fishing! If you enjoy saltwater angling, you certainly won’t be disappointed with trophy tarpon, snook, redfish and speckled trout inhabiting these waters. Shelling is another popular activity here which is particularly good during the winter months, and there are two picnic areas which offer pavilions for resting in the shade after a long day at the beach.

Boca Grande is the largest town on the island, and has a charming mix of restaurants, shops, art galleries and inns. But be careful to watch out for the golf carts which are the preferred method of getting around on the island, which is not surprising given that this quiet community is sometimes known as the “Nantucket of Florida”. After all, this is an island that has no high rises or stop lights which makes it the perfect island retreat!

One of the centerpieces on Gasparilla Island is the restored Boca Grande Lighthouse on the south end of the island which was built in 1890. From this point, visitors have a very scenic view of Boca Grande Pass, a swift-moving waterway that leads to the entrance to Charlotte Harbor. The seven-mile long island is also home of the Gasparilla Island State Park which draws visitors throughout the year. Access to the island is via the Boca Grande Causeway (private toll) at County Road 775 from the nearby town of Placida.

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