Famous Residents on Boca Grande and A Pink Elephant Too!
Perhaps there are other exclusive islands in Florida we don’t know about, but Boca Grande has our recommendation for an upscale hideaway. It also has a reputation for being difficult to find and people wondering where is Boca Grande located?
The island is a retreat with uncrowded beaches, beautiful sunsets, world-class fishing, and a historic inn.
The first thing Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island can boast about is its exclusivity. There are only 1700 people on the island and most are seasonal. The homes on the island have been occupied by famous actors, actresses, and politicians, and it is rumored to be the summer home of two national championship coaches! Try the Crimson Tide and the Tigers!
Where is Boca Grande Located
For years Boca Grande has been called the second-home haven for America’s wealthiest families. Boca has been the backdrop for several movies. This Florida island adventure is world-renowned, but no one knows where is Boca Grade located!
We can start by saying Boca Grande is located on Gasparilla Island on the west coast of Florida. The next issue is what city is Boca Grande near? The issue is, the closest cities you have never heard of either, so here are some directions to Boca Grande:
- Boca Grande is 55 miles north of Ft. Myers.
- Boca Grande is 103 miles south of Tampa.
- Boca Grande’s nearest towns are Englewood and Port Charlotte.
The best directions to Boca Grande are to take I-75 to Kings Highway in Port Charlotte. Exit west about one block to Veterans Blvd. (County Road 776) turn north and this will take you 22 miles to Boca Grande. There is no easy way to get there. One way on the island and one way off. See the Map of Boca Grande.
Tarpon Fishing Boca Grande
Tarpon fishing is synonymous with Boca Grande. When someone thinks of tarpon, everyone in the fishing circle knows Boca Grande Pass as a world-class destination. The world’s richest Tarpon tournament is held here every year. Hundreds of boats cram the Boca Grand Pass trying to lure a “silver king” to take a chunk out of a jig.
Boca Grande island has Charlotte Harbor on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the western side with the deep water pass on the south end of the island. Tarpon fishing charters are generally available from the middle of April until the end of June.
Watching the tournament from a beach at the south end of the island is exciting as fishermen fight monster tarpon.
The Second Home of the Wealthy – Boca Grande Famous Residents
It has long been rumored that two famous coaches, from two competing teams, have vacationed here annually. Can you imagine the discussion between Alabama and Clemson on the beach? In addition, members of the Du Pont family have homes as well and the Bush brothers are regulars.
Other big names spotted on the island include Tucker Carlson, Tom Brokaw and the other Busch family of beer fame. In the past names like Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Buffet, Henry Ford, and the other Ford, Harrison, have been seen roaming the island.
The Historic Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande
Boca Grande is also known for the Gasparilla Inn and Club in the heart of the island. This grand old hotel dates back to 1913 and says it is “Florida the way it ought to be!”. The Inn also features a championship golf course on the premises with many waterfront holes. The Inn is open seasonally from October through July.
We can’t forget The Pink Elephant! This is the casual side of the Gasparilla Inn. The main Inn has a very posh dining room but also requires a jacket for dinner. No such rules for The Pink Elephant since many fishermen would be hard-pressed to find a jacket in their suitcase. Act like a local and call this restaurant “The Pink”.
Boca Grande Island has many other independent restaurants, shops and watersports activities. Don’t forget you are near another famous island that we call “Cheeseburger in Paradise“. Have your charter captain take you to Cabbage Key by boat or get a water taxi. Across Charlotte Harbor, there are plenty of things to do in Punta Gorda.
What is the History of Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande?
Boca Grande is a small town located on Gasparilla Island, which is part of the barrier islands along the southwest coast of Florida. The history of Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island is rich and encompasses various aspects, including indigenous people, Spanish exploration, early settlers, and the growth of tourism.
Here’s a brief overview:
- Indigenous People: Before European settlers arrived, the Calusa Indians inhabited the area around Gasparilla Island. They were skilled fishermen and seafarers who built complex canal systems for transportation and food production. Evidence of their presence can still be found in archaeological sites on the island.
- Spanish Exploration: In the early 16th century, Spanish explorers, including Ponce de León, passed through the area. Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande were named after the legendary pirate Gasparilla José Gaspar, who was rumored to have hidden treasure in the area. However, no such treasure has ever been found.
- Early Settlers: In the late 19th century, American settlers began to establish fishing communities on Gasparilla Island. Fishing, particularly for tarpon, played a significant role in the local economy during this time. The first hotel on the island, the Gasparilla Inn, opened in 1911 and quickly became a popular destination for wealthy tourists.
- Growth of Tourism: Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island’s reputation as a vacation destination grew in the early 20th century. The island’s natural beauty, serene beaches, and the sport of tarpon fishing attracted visitors from around the world. The island was a playground for the rich and famous, including the du Ponts, Vanderbilts, and other prominent families.
- Development and Conservation: Over the years, efforts were made to balance development with conservation to preserve the island’s unique ecosystem. In 1980, Gasparilla Island was connected to the mainland by a causeway, making it more accessible to visitors.
- Today: Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island remain popular vacation destinations, known for their picturesque beaches, luxurious resorts, and outdoor activities. Fishing, particularly tarpon fishing, continues to be a major attraction. The Gasparilla Inn is still a historic and well-regarded resort on the island.
The history of Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island is deeply intertwined with Florida’s development and the evolution of tourism in the region. The island’s charm, natural beauty, and historical significance continue to make it a special place for residents and visitors alike.
Things To Do Near Boca Grande Florida
Boca Grande is a charming destination on Gasparilla Island in Florida, offering a variety of activities and attractions for visitors. If you’re looking for things to do near Boca Grande, here are some options:
- Beaches: Boca Grande is known for its pristine beaches. Spend your days swimming, sunbathing, shelling, or simply enjoying the beautiful Gulf of Mexico coastline. Some popular beaches include Gasparilla Island State Park, Boca Grande Beach, and Don Pedro Island State Park.
- Tarpon Fishing: Boca Grande is famous for its world-class tarpon fishing. You can charter a boat with a local guide for an unforgettable fishing experience. Tarpon season usually runs from April to July.
- Explore the Town: Boca Grande’s historic downtown is filled with unique shops, art galleries, and boutiques. Take a leisurely stroll and explore the quaint streets. Don’t miss the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum for a glimpse into the island’s history.
- Biking and Golf Carts: The island is bike-friendly, and renting a golf cart is a popular way to get around (this is our favorite transportation when we are on the island!). Explore the island’s scenic roads and trails at your own pace.
- Nature and Wildlife Viewing: Gasparilla Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including shorebirds, dolphins, and manatees. Visit the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center or take a guided eco-tour to learn more about the local ecosystem.
- Boca Grande Bike Path: Enjoy a scenic bike ride along the Boca Grande Bike Path, which offers beautiful views of the island’s landscapes and coastline.
- Boating and Water Sports: Rent a boat or kayak to explore the waters around Gasparilla Island. You can also try paddleboarding, windsurfing, or snorkeling.
- Golf: Play a round of golf at one of the island’s golf courses, such as the Gasparilla Inn & Club Golf Course, which is a historic and scenic course.
- Day Trips: Consider taking a day trip to nearby islands and attractions, such as Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa State Park, or the nearby town of Englewood.
- Sunsets: The sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico are breathtaking. Find a cozy spot on the beach, the Gasparilla Island State Park, or one of the island’s restaurants to watch the sun go down.
- Dining: Boca Grande offers a variety of dining options, from casual seafood shacks to upscale restaurants. Enjoy fresh seafood and local cuisine while taking in the island’s laid-back ambiance.
- Waterfront Dining: Many restaurants offer waterfront dining with beautiful views. Enjoy a romantic dinner or a casual meal by the water.
- Relax: Sometimes the best thing to do near Boca Grande is simply relax and unwind. Take in the tranquil atmosphere, read a book, or enjoy a spa day at one of the island’s resorts.
Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island provide a serene and picturesque setting for a relaxing vacation with plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, this destination has something for everyone.
Discovering Where is Boca Grande Located Will Be Fun
The way to Boca Grande may take a little time, but the drive across the scenic causeway will confirm you made the right decision.
When you get there, rent a golf cart and explore the island. Check out all the quaint shops and beaches. Find what suits your style. You can also use the cart to pass by the luxurious homes.
For lunch, you can dress up for the Gasparilla Inn or dress down for the Pink Elephant. If neither of these suit your fancy, there are plenty of other options.
Finally, you must see the sunset on the island’s coast. Once the sun starts to descend into the Gulf your pictures will create a memory of discovering where is Boca Grande located!