Gasparilla Island, a barrier island located about 50 miles or so south of Sarasota, Florida, is a charming beach community with residential and vacation homes alike and is also what has to be a shell hunters dream come true.
The State Park
Our Florida Journey today first takes us to Gasparilla Island State Park, which is on the island just south of the island’s main community of Boca Grande. It is here where we found a treasure trove of seashells in all shapes and sizes along a stunning and inviting coastline beach.
Along with finding those perfect shells, the other main attractions here are swimming, snorkeling and fishing in the beautiful blue ocean waters that surround the park. Bird viewing and dolphin spotting are also very popular pass times on the Island as well and we saw plenty of both on our visit.
Gasparilla Island State Park provides a very family friendly beach experience however, there are very few picnic facilities so unless you get there very early or get very lucky, chances are that you will not find a picnic table, so plan accordingly.
Admission to the park is only $3.00 and once in the park there is no fee to park your car, but please note there is a $6.00 charge to cross the swing bridge to get on the Island itself.
The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, at Gasparilla Island State Park was originally built in 1890, and was used to safely guide ships into the Charlotte Harbor. Now the lighthouse is open to the public as a museum dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Island.
The quiet island community of Boca Grande is as much charming as it is affluent, and can give one the impression of it being an upscale and a little ritzy, beach community. Banyan trees and perfectly manicured lawns line the picturesque streets. There are many beautiful homes and vacation rentals here and in Boca Grande you will find just as many golf carts used for transportation as you will find automobiles.
The historic downtown area of restaurants and boutiques only adds to the charm of this town. A town that started out all those years ago as a tarpon fishing village now a community that could rival Palm Beach in it’s exclusive appearance.
One of the focal points on Gasparilla Island has to be the Historic Gasparilla Inn & Club. Serving guests since 1913, this resort offers up a piece of old Florida charm, while still being very modern in it’s amenities. Championship golf, spa, salon, tennis, marina and shopping, all on a piece of island property with breathtaking views, makes this historic American landmark inn a very appealing and luxurious vacation destination.
There is another light house on Gasparilla Island. The Gasparilla Island Lighthouse is located at 220 Gulf Blvd. and is open daily for climbs Cost for a regular day climb is $15 per person ($5 per child- ages 6-11) and is payable the day of the climb. Cash only.
Although the area gives off the exclusive vibe, we found everyone we encountered to be friendly and welcoming. Much to our delight, we even found a jewel of a waterfront restaurant with an affordable menu.
South Beach Bar & Grille offers inside or outside patio dining at decent prices and even has a line of outdoor beach seating and picnic tables to enjoy an adult beverage with a view. Located at 777 Gulf Blvd. Boca Grande, parking is limited and can be a bit of a challenge.
We did see several public beaches along the main road on Gasparilla Island with pay at the meter parking and public facilities. What we did not see are big chain hotels or high rise buildings. Most all vacation rentals on the island are vacation homes, and a few inns such as the Boca Grande Resort, the Palmeto Inn and of course there is the historic Gasparilla Inn & Club. Please note: There is a charge of $6.00 per car to get onto the island.
We hope you enjoyed reading our post on our day at Gasparilla Island. To follow our journey as we discover more of Florida’s beautiful vacation destinations, fun theme parks and every great Florida destination in between, then please subscribe to our site so we may send future post straight to your email in box. To join the Florida discussion, ask Florida questions, follow the daily journey and meet new Florida loving friends then join our facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/THEVIEWFROMFLORIDA/groups/