Nestled within the serene Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande, a peaceful town on the Gulf of Mexico, offers a tranquil escape often overlooked by the crowds flocking to other parts of Florida. Described as a step back in time, this stoplight- and franchise-free community is a haven for those seeking peace, tranquility, and a touch of the past.
Despite the challenges posed by Hurricane Ian in 2022, Boca Grande remains resilient, inviting visitors to experience its pristine beaches, clear waters, and abundant sea life. Nikki Heimann, manager of The Pink Pony, highlights the town’s allure, emphasizing its role as the “Tarpon Capital of the World” for game fishing in the deep-water pass.
Boca Grande follows a seasonal pattern, with the busy “social season” from Thanksgiving to spring break being the most popular. Tarpon season, from spring to summertime, attracts fishing enthusiasts. Mid- to late summer offers a quieter experience, though some businesses may close. However, hurricane season from June to November should be considered when planning.
Things to Do
Activities revolve around the water and beach, including fishing, shelling, boating, and biking. Heimann recommends experiencing a sunset on the beach, emphasizing its magical allure. Other adventures include climbing the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse, exploring Gasparilla Island State Park, and participating in the annual World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament.
Where to Stay
Accommodations range from primitive camping in Cayo Costa State Park to luxurious options like The Gasparilla Inn & Club, offering a blend of ritzy and relaxed amenities. Other choices include Boca Grande Hotel, The Palmetto Inn, and The Innlet on the Waterfront, each offering a unique experience.
Where to Eat and Drink
Dining options cater to diverse tastes, with notable establishments like The Temptation Restaurant, Scarpa’s Coastal, Eagle Grille, and Miller’s Dockside at Boca Grande Marina. For a refreshing change, The Outlet Restaurant on Boca Grande Bayou is recommended, and no visit is complete without a stop at The Pink Pony for a delightful ice cream experience.
Where to Shop
Local shops like Fugate’s and Barbara Anne’s offer unique island treasures, while Smart Studio Art Gallery & Shop showcases local art and driftwood sculptures. Boca Grande Outfitters caters to those in need of light tackle or outdoorsy clothing.
How to Get There
Boca Grande is accessible through public airports, with Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) being the closest option. Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), and Tampa International Airport (TPA) are also convenient choices. Regardless of the airport, visitors will take the Boca Grande Causeway onto Gasparilla Island.
Embark on a journey to Boca Grande, where simplicity meets sophistication, and the charm of a bygone era awaits.