Monday, January 18, 2010

Gasparilla Island State Park

We decided to check out this place one day last week after scouring our local map and FL Gazetteer.  We were very happy with that decision, it was beautiful.  We weren’t prepared for such a great day…no shorts, no sunscreen, no hats.  Oh well, we did think to pack a couple of chairs and limited ourselves to 20 minutes at the beach.

We parked at Sea Grape beach, one of the two beach areas, walked over the bridge protecting the dunes and found this...  The beach appears to run the entire length of the island.  As you can see, we had the beach almost to ourselves.  The area allows swimming year-round in the Gulf of Mexico, although tidal flows cause dangerous currents, so caution is advised.  The Gulf temperatures were running in the low 50's due to the recent below normal temps.  We didn't have any towels with us so didn't bother to get our feet wet.

The park itself is located at the southern tip of the island and encompasses 127 acres.   The oldest structure on the island and one of the oldest in the county is the Boca Grande lighthouse, built in 1890.  It was operated by the U.S. Coast Guard until 1966 and then abandoned.  Twenty years later it was renovated and rededicated.  It is owned by the State and was opened to the public in 1983 where it houses a museum and visitor center.  Although there was severe damage to the island during Hurricane Charley, the lighthouse received little damage.  Amazing considering that it sits right on the beach at the end of the island.  My condo doesn't sit anywhere near the beach and it was heavily damaged.  Go figure.

There is a very deep pass in the water between Gasparilla Island and Cayo Costa Islands which is known as the Tarpon Capital of the World.  You can read all about the tarpon here.

We left our car in the parking lot and went for a walk along the only road to the end of the island.  We walked for about 40 minutes and covered about 2 miles.  It was a great little adventure and didn't cost us much either.  There is a toll bridge to access the island ($4) and a small fee ($3) for parking, which allows parking at any of the areas.  I was a very happy camper.

We will definitely be going here again.  

Thanks for stopping by...

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