If you’re looking for a family friendly destination for your upcoming April school vacation, look no further than Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island off the western coast of Florida. It’s like stepping back in time. This gem of an island has something for everyone – long white beaches, fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding just to name a few. Your children will be sure to enjoy an eco-tour with a naturalist/guide from the DEP at the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve or you can use one of the private companies who also offer tours. Kids will learn about the local estuarine habitat and some of its inhabitants including dolphins, pelicans, wading birds, fish, shells and crabs. Don’t forget to bring the sunscreen!
Gasparilla Island is a barrier island located near Captiva and Sanibel. A natural deep water channel lies here where the Gulf of Mexico meets Charlotte Harbor. The result is a perfect spot for the avid angler. Here you’ll find fly, back country, and beach fishing. If tarpon fishing is your preference, you should know that there are more tarpon caught in this channel than anywhere else in the world. Many charter boats and experienced fishing guides are available to ensure success. Early settlers of Gasparilla Island came here to fish and even today many of the guides are descendants of those original settlers.
Gasparilla Island State Park makes up a large portion of the island and shouldn’t be missed. The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum, on the southern part of the island, is still active and the oldest building on the island (built in 1890). They offer a program for 6 year olds and up called Wading Adventure. Nets, buckets and viewers are provided. Call them to make a reservation. A second lighthouse, Boca Grande Range Light, is located mid-island and was built in 1927. They offer scheduled trips to climb the 60 steps inside for an impressive view of the area.
The Gasparilla Inn and Club opened in 1911 instantly making the island a vacation destination for well-to-do Northerners. On the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of the oldest surviving hotels in Florida. They offer 142 rooms as well as some guest cottages. The hotel is a picture perfect wedding destination and has the only golf course on the island. For reservations you can contact the hotel directly online. In addition to the hotels, there are many vacation home or condo rentals offered by local realtors including Seale Family Real Estate, Boca Grande Real Estate, and Parsley-Baldwin Real Estate. They can fill you in on everything you need to know before going there. While on the island, residents and visitors get around mostly on bicycles or golf carts. You can drive there, but there are no gas stations on the island. It’s all part of the charm!
Cape Air’s seaplanes can meet your incoming flight at any area airport and have you at Gasparilla Island in mere minutes!
Cape Air – Providing Seaplane Services and Vacation Adventures Since 1980