About Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island

Imagine a place where people opt for a golf cart instead of a car, a place where the sound of waves against miles of pristine un-crowded beach is always in the background, a place where everyone really does know your name, where fast food chains and high-rises don't exist, a place where traffic lights are not needed, where a hand shake is still commitment and where family is first. Now wrap all this in small town ambiance and imagine!

Imagine a life with no stress, where a walk through nature is your psychiatrist, where the sound of gulls and egrets are your jogging music, where days go unplanned and just unfold and causal elegance is always appropriate for dinner hour. There is such a place on Florida's west coast hidden between Fort Myers and Sarasota, a little known paradise called Boca Grande. So concealed that when mentioned people reply, "oh, I know where Boca Raton is", that's how unknown we are.

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about the island: a hidden pearl located approximately ten miles north of Sanibel and Captiva, accessed by county roads and then across a vintage swing bridge, one of the few remaining in service. There are no words to adequately describe your first mile on the island; you just have to experience it. Now that you've arrived lets take a quick look at town. As promised a charming small town, but rich with all the amenities and services you could ever need. There are a dozen fine restaurants, an excellent food market, bakery, hardware store, travel agent and boutique type shops with top quality merchandise. You will also find a state of the art medical center staffed with two doctors and on call service 24-7, our own fire department, sheriff's office, child care center and school for grades one through five, with a fantastic community center and four churches to care for our spiritual health. All planted on seven miles of tropical paradise make this island truly self sufficient.

About now our island must sound like a pretty ideal place, but if you're going to stay awhile; what is there to do? If just relaxing at the beach is not enough, you are in luck. The island has activities for all ages; from golfing to fishing the location and weather are perfect for all your desires. The area offers some of the top rated golf courses in the country, and there are plenty to choose from. Golfers enjoy a cool breeze, fantastic views, and are surrounded by nature making for a truly wonderful experience.

Now if you enjoy water activities you need to decide what you would like to do first. Imagine lounging in a comfortable fishing chair with your feet propped up catching some sun rays, swaying in the warm Gulf waters sipping your favorite drink when BAM, your pole arches straight down and the fight is on. The captain yells "fish on" and everyone in the boat scrambles out of your way. You reel and reel until your arms feel like they are going to fall off, but it's all worth it when you see that fish that could possibly weigh more than you jump out of the water. Its colors are amazing, shimmering in the sunlight as it dances in and out of the water. You finally accomplish reeling the Tarpon up to the boat to snap that cherished picture of a moment you will never forget. Then the captain frees the fish and you return back to your beloved chair and drink, and the day strolls on.

Now if you are the hunter-gatherer type and would rather fish to enjoy the freshest possible seafood, this is the best place for seafood lovers! The Charlotte Peninsula is surrounded by islands which are home to the flats; the supreme place to find all kinds of editable fish such as; Snook, Red Fish and Snapper, just to name a few. For the more adventurous, you may want to go off shore and bring in some Grouper or Mahi Mahi. Whatever you are craving you are sure to have a most exquisite meal!

For those who yearn for a little exercise on their adventure, there is always kayaking, bike riding, and jogging. Kayaking is the perfect setting for dolphin and manatee watching, you are sure to capture one of a kind photos! For you land lovers, the island offers seven miles of scenic biking and jogging paths occupying the old railroad tracks that once ran the full length of the island.

Finally, if you have a flair for the arts you will enjoy live theatre performing a variety of works from different playwrights. For a hands-on experience, there is an assortment of how-to workshops on various subjects.

By now you should be ask yourself with all the development in Florida, how can a place so ideal still remain? To answer this we need a brief review of island history. The first inhabitants of the island were the Calusa Indians in 800 or 900 A.D.; having hundreds of fishing villages all around Charlotte Harbor. By the mid 1700s, the Europeans had taken over the area and the Indians disappeared due to warfare, slavery, and illness. For the earliest island settlers, fishing was the mainstay and by the late 1870s several fish ranches were in operation. Many of the fishermen were Spanish or Cuban and shipped huge catches to Havana and other markets around the world. The next major attraction to the island was phosphate discovered in 1885, which turned the south end of the island into a major deep water port. With this attention the wealthy American and British sportsman made the island famous for world class tarpon fishing. In 1905, the construction of the railroad began and the only buildings on the island were the lighthouse and the assistant keeper's house on the very south end. For the next 50 years phosphate was shipped out and development began slowly. In 1929 the Boca Grande Hotel was built and the tourists started arriving by train, while the wealthy were building their winter homes. In 1958, the causeway opened and the town began to prosper. In 1979 the line was abandoned, the phosphate industry came to a halt, and the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association petitioned  the state to make Boca Grande a historical island and preserve its beauty. They turned the railroad into a bike bath, prevented any structures from being over 42ft, limited use of land to residential and commercial restricting the units per acre. The foresight of these individuals is the reason why the island remains the paradise that we enjoy today and for many years to come.

By now the only thing left for you to do is make your reservation and see for yourself. Established 1983, Parsley-Baldwin Realty has been a recognized leader in island real estate including sales, rentals, and new home construction. We would be happy to show off our little slice of paradise, rent you a cozy beach house, and help you purchase or build your very own island dream home. We look forward to working with you.


Come For a Week ~ Stay For a Lifetime


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