About Gasparilla Island
Gasparilla Island is one of a string of barrier islands along the southwest Gulf Coast between Fort Myers and Tampa, Florida. It is bordered by the azure waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Charlotte Harbor, Little Gasparilla Pass, and the Boca Grande Pass. Fishermen are rewarded with plentiful catches of grouper, snapper, mackerel, and kingfish in the surrounding waters. Over the years, Boca Grande has also earned the distinction of being known as “The Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World.”
Back on land, seven miles of glorious sugar white sand beaches offer up many of the ocean’s treasures. Shelling is a favorite pastime on Gasparilla Island. Beachcombers find a wonderful assortment of prized shells and species, including sand dollars, starfish, shark’s eye snails, Florida cones, horse conchs, lightning whelks, and much more. The best time to go shelling is at low tide.
The beaches on Gasparilla Island are also an important nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles. In fact, Florida beaches account for one third of the world's total population of this endangered species. The sea turtles begin laying their eggs in the sand in March, with peak nesting between May and August. After the eggs incubate for 45 to 55 days, the tiny turtles are hatched and must make it safely to the surf before any predator spies them. The few that survive and grow to adulthood will eventually weigh between 200 and 350 pounds and measure three feet in length. They will return to the same beach to nest.
At the southern end of the island, just south of the town of Boca Grande, is Gasparilla Island State Park. The park is a birder’s paradise because it attracts a wide variety of birds, including ospreys, pelicans, ring-billed gulls, royal terns, great blue herons, frigate birds, white ibis, roseate spoonbills, palm warblers, and others. These birds as well as other wildlife can be found around other parts of Gasparilla Island, as well.