Boca Grande Island Charlotte County, South West Florida
Boca Grande was one those places we had never heard about when we first bought our villa in Rotonda West near Englewood, in Charlotte County South West Florida. We had heard of the more famous barrier islands of Sanibel and Captive and had enjoyed several days out on those lovely beaches so we were somewhat surprised to discover another barrier island called Boca Grande or Gasparilla Island as it is sometimes known which stretches for some 7 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Boca Grande Causeway links the island to the mainland and the toll $6 per car is well worth it. Driving down the island a couple of miles will bring you to the village center which apparently has hardly changed in 100 years, it is home to upscale boutiques , art galleries and fancy restaurants with prices to match. In some respects it is a carefully preserved place and indicative of Old Florida, condominiums and some lovely modern homes have been built but there are no high rises. It is a quiet community where the locals are keen to maintain this beautiful environment and there quality of life, it is said that the Billionaires now outnumber the Millionaires. Although you may not think it when see plenty of people making there way around the island on there golf carts
If you happen to be in Boca Grande in the early summer the normal relaxed atmosphere is disrupted somewhat during tarpon season culminating in the annual tarpon run each June when fisherman descend in their droves from across Florida. The island is considered to be the best tarpon fishing spots in the World. I am not a fisherman myself but to see some guy catch a 4 foot or so tarpon whilst stood on the beach was some sight.
Which brings to the beaches which are simply superb, the pristine white sand beaches stretch for miles on the Gulf side. The best places to access the beach are having gone through the village centre you continue along with the gulf to your right and you will shortly come to the car park and public access to the beach. The are Beach Pavilions and BBQ, s and toilets, and then there is the beach and the clear blue sea where you will often see Dolphins and Manatees swimming close to shore. A word of warning there are no lifeguards on either of the beaches mentioned.
Another beach close to the lighthouse is at the southernmost tip of the island again there are beach pavilions and this area offers lovely view of Boca Grande pass, this is the principle area for fishing and you will see numerous boats on the water. However swimming is not recommended at this beach due to the fast moving currents in the pass itself, which is a gateway to Charlotte Harbor.
You can charter a boat and there is every chance you will see Dolphins, Manatees, Ospreys and if you here in the winter months White Pelicans. Whatever you do enjoy, welcome to Paradise.
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