Gasparilla Getaway – Paradise Found in Southwest Florida


By Gabriele Walkow

See dolphins playing in the warm waters

This stunning barrier island in Southwest Florida straddles the border of both Charlotte and Lee Counties. Only an hour from the Punta Gorda Airport, enter a world of serenity, simplicity and sheer bliss. With the sparkling Gulf of Mexico to the west and beautiful Charlotte Harbor to the east and the south, this is a world of sun, sand and sea. Welcome to island life at its finest!

According to Florida folklore, Gasparilla Island gets its name from the legendary pirate Captain Jose Gaspar (known by his nickname Gasparilla, c. 1756–1821), who is claimed to have had his base on the island and purportedly hid his massive treasure there. Although this pirate treasure was never found, Gasparilla Island has been a treasure trove of idyllic weather, picturesque scenery and chic amenities for visitors from around the world since the early 20th century. In fact, Barron’s recently selected Gasparilla Island as one of the 10 Best Places for Second Homes in the U.S.

The restored Port Boca Grande Lighthouse

Explore the historic and stylish town of Boca Grande, the largest town on the island. Visit the understated shops and indulge at the delightful restaurants. Rent a golf cart and drive past pastel cottages and gracious estates on your way to check out beautiful Gasparilla Island State Park, home to the restored Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. Built in 1890, the lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can tour the lighthouse museum and enjoy swimming, snorkeling and shelling on the gorgeous expanse of sand that stretches along the Gulf shore.

Be sure to check out the plush Gasparilla Inn. Duponts, Vanderbilts and other celebrated visitors have been vacationing here since the inn opened in 1913. With its 142 charming hotel and cottage accommodations, and a range of resort amenities in the heart of Boca Grande, this premier destination offers a resort experience that will long be remembered.

Paddleboarding is popular around Gasparilla Island

Renowned as the “Tarpon Capital of the World,” anglers will find a flotilla of boats in Boca Grande Pass when the tarpon are running (April through August). The rest of the year, fly-fishing yields snook and other prized fish. Boca Grande Outfitters and Gasparilla Outfitters can hook visitors up with fishing gear and a savvy guide. Other activities include boating, jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, bicycling, bird and wildlife viewing and golfing.

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