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Gasparilla Island is an elite and remote getaway on Florida’s Southwest coast. It falls off the radar for many because it is relatively far from even the closest tourist towns like Fort Myers, Sarasota and Punta Gorda.
The island is only reachable via a mainland bridge and by having a car or bicycle. There is no public transportation that arrives. The bridge entry costs $6 USD per vehicle or even $2 USD for a bicycle. The island has only two expensive hotels, it is full of mansions and has a very tiny town to explore, Boca Grande. Why would you go out of your way to visit you might wonder?
Florida has plenty of great tourism infrastructure, why go somewhere so remote?
The attraction of Gasparilla for those not looking to buy an elite secluded beach house, or stay at a costly hotel is to enjoy an almost private beach at public access points and see the small town life around the shops, cafe’s and public buildings. If you enjoy looking at dream homes it will be quite entertaining in every direction.
The main road that cuts down the middle of the island is a six mile drive and alongside the road is a path for golf carts which residents use to get around and an excellent running and walking trail. At the Northern end of the island this trail goes off to an abandoned bridge which is now a local fishing pier. The shallow intercostal waterway is all colors of blue.
The island offers pristine beaches with powdery white sand that is finer than sugar. There are long stretches of Public beaches and they are not crowded at all. In the mornings you can collect a large variety of shells which have washed up.
The town of Boca Grande itself is quaint and picturesque. All of the homes and buildings have an island or colonial Florida style to them. There are posh little restaurants, beautiful churches, some boutique hotels and gardens everywhere. The Gasparilla Inn and Club is a true architectural timepiece.
Probably the most unique structure of all is the former Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway Depot. It is now a modern shopping and financial building that has kept its original design.
There are two unique light houses on the southern end of the island which help boats as they pass the southern point of the island and into Charlotte Harbor which forms a natural shelter inland.
Boca Grande is definitely a worthwhile trip for anyone who loves the beach, or small town history or just Florida in general.