top of page
  • robdomke

"Exploring Boca Grande: A Complete Guide to Paradise on Florida's Gulf Coast"


From its industrial beginnings as a phosphate port due to the deep natural pass, to the historic and iconic Gasparilla Inn, Boca Grande is a vacation destination for the elite. Having quite the history, this 7 mile island is definitely worth the $6 toll to explore. Two lighthouses can be found on island, both open to the public, and the downtown offers many eclectic island restaurants, boutique shops, and the famous Gasparilla Inn. Explore a little slice of paradise where there are no stop lights and golf carts out number the cars. Rent a golf cart or bicycle of your own and explore the island like a local, there are plenty of Instagram worthy photo ops to take advantage of. The island is also known as the Tarpon fishing capital of the world, and the legacy of these waters date back to the late 1890's. Come visit a place we like to call home.


Ready to take the Tour? Follow our Step-by-Step Boca Grande tour guide below!

5800 Gasparilla Rd. - Head South from toll Bridge across 2 causeways, market is located on left hand side


Boca Grandes one stop shop and open throughout the year is Kappy's Market located on the North end of the island and is our #1 stop on the Boca Grande Tour. Here one will find a large selection of everything you could imagine! Looking for that perfect souvenir is simple, Kappy's offers everything from tee shirts, to postcards, to the traditional vacation keychains and mugs! Or perhaps you need to satisfy a grumble from your tummy or that nagging sweet tooth? Enjoy a cool ice cream treat or order something delicious from the full size deli. Don't forget the roadside photo ops, climb aboard the oversized Adirondack chair or see just how big a giant Goliath Grouper is! No matter what Kappy's is a must see on beautiful Gasparilla Island.




 

Located just behind Kappys Market on Left hand side


Just around the corner from Kappy's Market is the famous Boca Grande fishing pier. This long standing pier was originally a part of the phosphate railroad trestle bridge and offers some of the best pier fishing in Southwest Florida. Surrounded by cerulean colored waters, and amazing vista views this is the perfect spot for some great photos, or to launch a kayak or paddle board for a day of fun on the water. Paddle out to the trestle bridge and take in the scenery and history of Gasparilla Island and all this barrier island has to offer.




1040 10th St. W - Continue South on Gasparilla Rd for approx. 3 miles, library will be on right hand side


Next stop on the Boca Grande tour is an island favorite for all ages and has a rich history all its own. Filled with books spanning every genre one would be interested in, the Johann Fust Library has been the core of the Boca Grande community for decades. Built in 1950 the library provided necessary resources to island residents and its architectural appeal stood out to the visiting tourists of Boca Grande. Visitors should take a stroll through the garden, and courtyard and relax with a good book under the shade of a Florida palm tree. Official library tours are every Wednesday at 2pm, reservations required.



500 Palm Ave. - Head South on Gasparilla Rd. to Stop Sign - Turn Left - Inn will be directly in front of you.


Known to the locals as simply "the inn" the historic Gasparilla Inn stands tall as a beacon of elegance and statue. Guests are able to experience the true feeling of old Florida, as it was meant to be, at The Gasparilla Inn & Club. This classic historic Inn, open seasonally from October to July, is located in the heart of Gasparilla Island’s Boca Grande and has been a premier destination for the elite along Florida’s Gulf Coast since 1913. With its iconic Victorian-style gable roofs, and the towering strength of its front pillars, the Inn offers a true taste of “old Florida” with 163 charming hotel and cottage accommodations. This grand resort offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor and a variety of resort amenities, including the Inn Boutique, fine dining, the Pete Dye championship golf course and an expansive beach club with a full-service spa, salon, and private beach. This icon has been featured in countless magazines and travel blogs and is a must see while touring beautiful Boca Grande.



Head back to Gasparilla Road (Park Ave downtown) and make a left at Stop Sign - Village of Boca Grande will be along Park Ave


Welcome to the historic village of Boca Grande where the number of golf carts outnumber the cars and stop lights are simply nonexistent. This picturesque downtown offers eclectic boutiques, fine island dining, and the quaint tropical atmosphere of days past. Stroll the sidewalks and make sure to stop in to the Pink Pony for a delectable cool treat, known for their specials of the day that's sure to please any sweet tooth, or meander over to Fugates which has offered a little bit of everything since roughly 1911. This is the perfect central spot to rent a golf cart or bicycles for the rest of your island tour. Boca Grande, the major hub for the hustle and bustle of the Florida industrial phosphate era will continue to preserve it's rich history and the exact reasons why this barrier island has become a top travel destination throughout generations.




Head South on Park Ave through town about 1/8 mile - Banyan Street will be on right side. Parking at the community center or along village streets is free to the public.


Welcome to the best and most resilient street in southwest Florida.

Banyan street, planted in 1916 has become a Boca staple for weddings, photographers, nature lovers, and locals. Often one will see newlyweds posing for their iconic wedding photos, or families smiling under the shade of the behemoth giants, or perhaps even a bended knee as two lovebirds decide to start their next chapters together as one. This is Banyan Street. Who knew a stretch of pavement no more than 50 yards long would be the staple in so many lives, and continue to draw people in by its beauty, it's strength to weather the storms of the past, and it's ability to create memories by simply existing. One cannot come to the island without taking a stroll down this iconic stretch of old Florida.



Head down Banyan Street to Gulf Blvd (Stop Sign), make left turn and follow down about 1/8 mile - the Range Light and parking will be on the right side of Gulf Blvd.


Gasparilla Island has not one but two beautiful lighthouses to see. The first lighthouse known as the Range Light stands tall just off the main road and has been the highlight of paintings and photos across the world. Built in 1927 but not officially lit up until 1932 due to lens delays, this iconic beauty helped ships safely enter Port Boca Grande for decades until her retirement in the 90's. Today not only can you visit this amazing structure but at certain times of the year visitors get the opportunity to climb the 134 steps and 12 ladder steps to the top where one can capture the spectacular views out over the Gulf of Mexico and the sugar sand beaches of Gasparilla island.



Continue South down Gulf Blvd for approx. 3 miles to the end. Here is the main entrance to Gasparilla Island State Park. *There is a small fee to park*


The 7 mile journey down to the end of Gasparilla Island leads to one of the most beautiful state parks in the United States. Here also lies the islands second lighthouse - Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. Built in 1890 the lighthouse is the oldest building on the island, and has truly stood the test of time. The assistant lightkeepers home which is directly next door and looks similar to the lighthouse was built around the same time and both have withstood the wrath of over 8 hurricanes, countless fires, and devastating flooding. The lighthouse is now still functions and is also open to visitors as a museum and gift shop. The Gasparilla Pass is the deepest pass in southwest Florida at 80 feet deep and is famously known as the Tarpon capital of the world. Anglers from all over the world travel to Boca Grande every summer to try their hand at catching this amazing and beautiful sport fish. Exploring Gasparilla Island would not be complete without a visit to the islands state park.



Continue back North on Gulf Blvd. to first Stop Sign (1st Street) - Turn Right - Follow down and marina will be on right hand side


Known as just Whiddens amongst islanders this marina located on First Street East was founded by Sam Whidden in 1926 and has been run by the Whidden family ever since. One of Boca Grande's oldest marinas, in those days, Whidden's was also a well known Boca Grande night spot, dance hall and restaurant. All that has changed, but not the flavor and old fashioned hospitality of this "Old Florida" establishment. Check out the classic murals depicting the days of years past on the buildings surrounding this old gem, or check out the views from the docks as the shrimp boats come in with the freshest gulf shrimp one will every taste. These are the days of Gasparilla Island.




From Whiddens Marina Continue down around the bend as First St. turns into Harbor Drive - and then into Bayou Ave. - The Pink Elephant will be located on the left side and offers ample parking for cars, golf carts, or bicycles.


They say everything is prettier in pink and that definitely rings true on Boca Grande. Known as their signature color paired with the cutest elephant in southwest Florida The Pink Elephant Restaurant owned and run by the Gasparilla Inn is one that cannot be missed and after a long day exploring you've earned some amazing island fare dishes, and signature cocktails surrounded by an "old Florida" atmosphere. The Pink as it's commonly referred to offers both a mild casual dining experience or fine dining with the upper level of the restaurant having a strict coat or jacket dress code. It's the perfect way to cap off a perfect day on beautiful Boca Grande.





We hope you enjoy beautiful Gasparilla Island

and explore all that Boca Grande has to offer amongst the palm trees.

85 views0 comments

留言


bottom of page