Florida happens to be one of the biggest states in the United States and there is so much to explore here, from theme parks to beautiful destinations, it's tough picking the next spot to visit.
Of course, the first thing that comes to everyone's mind when mentioning Florida is what we are mainly known for: the beaches. As someone who has here for almost my entire life (I also lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) I have been to a lot of beaches, some of them great, some of them not so good but I would say that by far one of the best beaches in Southwest Florida has to Gasparilla Island beach park.
Gasparilla island sits both Charlotte & Lee County and it is also known as the "Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World" as many fishermen comes to the island for the biggest fishing tournaments in the country!
The seven miles long beach consist of white fine sand, beautiful crystal clear water, and an old Florida flair like no other place.
Here are a couple of things you should know before arriving on the island:
Toll to get in the island is $6 per passenger car (cash or card are accepted)
Parking on Gasparilla Island State park is $3 for the entire day per car (cheap comparing to some islands where the cost if $5 per hour!)
Coolers and grills are allowed and encouraged as there are no vendors on the beach besides a couple of restaurants
Pets are not allowed on the park but are permitted in other areas of the beach
There are no gas stations on the island so make sure you fill up before arrival.
Do the speed limit, the island is small and do not tolerate speeders
Major mode of transportations are golf carts and anyone over the age of 14 is allowed to maneuver it, so be on the look out and be safe!
Do not disturb turtle's nests, you could be fined a large sum of money if caught but mostly you do not want to damage any eggs.
Although, the island is beautiful there aren't that many activities and businesses in the area that provide entertainment, however, here are some ideas of what you can do on the beach park while visiting:
Grill & Barbecue
Bring your own grill and enjoy a cook out on the sand or even by the shore. Don't forget to use a plastic bag to dispose of any trash you may have. There are garbage cans located in the parking lot of the beach park where you can get rid of the trash so you don't have to bring it home with you. Please don't litter!
It's all about fun & games
There is plenty of space in the sand for games like football, soccer and volleyball so bring the balls and enjoy some beach games. Water guns and floaties may also be a great way to spend the time on the island.
Kayaking or Boating
You can bring your own kayak/ boat or rent from Glass Bottom Rentals and enjoy the deeper areas of the island. Also, Cayo costa is just around the corner if you want to explore even a more remote island in Florida
Bring a bike and enjoy the beautiful bike trail.
Probably one of my favorite activities when beaching in Florida is hunting for shells. I love looking and finding distinct shells and bringing them home. Such a great and free souvenir. Check out my blog on beach vacation essentials to find out what I use to store my shells while hunting for them!
You may also want to read: BEACH VACATION MUST HAVES
Do Some Fishing!
You might as well do something while doing nothing! I mean, if you are just going to be sitting in your towel or tanning your life away, you might as well set up the fishing poles and wait for some big catch to come your way. You may just score a big tarpon!
Catch the sunset
Southwest Florida is knows for one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world! It's like the sun is being swallowed by the ocean, it's really extraordinary and it always fascinates me although I've watched it a million times.
Visit the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse museum
If you like history and love some old tales, check out the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum and get to know a little bit more about the Island of Gasparilla.
Eat at South Beach Bar & Grille
This super cute restaurant sits right on the beach, right off of the Gasparilla Beach Island State park. The food is good and honestly, considering their location I expected their prices to be higher but it was pretty affordable.
Did I mention the water is crystal clear? So bring your goggles and your snorkeling mask for a real fun under the water!
Considering the Island is absolutely beautiful and there aren't that many visitors touring the place, Gasparilla Island makes the perfect place for photoshoots on the beach and in town as well. A under the water photoshoot is also a great idea and very possible because did I mention the water is crystal clear? (LOL)
These are just some of the things that you can do while at Gasparilla Island beach park. Now if you are staying on the island a little longer be sure to go into town and check out all the history the island has to offer as well as wonderful local cuisine.