Boca Grande is a quaint and historic Southwest Florida town on Gasparilla Island. It has a history rooted in phosphate and fishing. Phosphate rock was discovered near Gasparilla Island in the 1880’s. Phosphate was an extremely coveted mineral at the time, leading to the development of the town of Boca Grande. Boca Grande pass is also a very deep, natural inlet, one of the deepest in Florida! This makes it a perfect habitat for fishing, and even more specifically tarpon fishing. While tarpon season is a huge deal in this town from April to June, there are also plenty of other sites to discover during your trip to Boca Grande!
Staying in Boca Grande
Staying in Boca Grande can be pricey. Depending on where you want to stay on the island, when you’re coming, how many people you bring, and how long you’re staying; the price can add up. For instance, the Gasparilla Inn & Club, arguably the most notable hotel on the island can run you upwards of $400 per night. However, you can also find entire houses on the beach for this price too. There are many factors that will influence your decision but also plenty of options for all types of travelers.
If you’re staying somewhere else on Florida’s west coast then you can also visit Boca Grande for the day. A day on the island is much more affordable while still leaving room to experience all the same fun. Boca Grande is the perfect day trip for families, friends, or even a date! There are many activities for everyone to enjoy and explore.
Things To Do In Boca Grande
Boca Grande is a smaller scale destination if you aren’t into fishing and boating but there are plenty of things to do to fill in the gaps during a weekend of ultimate relaxation. Though, If you’re looking for a place to party with a plethora of bar and restaurant options then this is not the ideal vacation spot for you. Most restaurants and shops on the island close between 4pm and 6pm. Something to also consider is the timing of your trip. Nearly the whole Island including restaurants and stores close from mid June to October. By this time, the typical “fishing months” have passed so a lot of the usual visitors and fishermen have left for the season. The only open places you’ll find during these months are Hudson’s grocery store and Fugate’s general store. So, this would not be an ideal time to visit.
Rent A Golf Cart or Bikes
Boca Grande is very car friendly but it is much easier (and more fun!) to rent a golf carts or bikes as a way of transportation during your stay. Throughout the island there are paved roads specifically for golf carts, bikers, and pedestrians. There are many options for rentals but the main company I recommend is Gasparilla Adventures. Here, you can rent a variety of both bikes and golf carts. There is a minimum rental period of 2 hours for all equipment and you can also rent by the week or day. Gasparilla Adventures also offers paddleboards, kayaks and other accessories you might need for kids such as child seats and they even offer pet wagons to attach to your bike!
Visit Gasparilla Island State Park
Gasparilla Island State Park is a Florida state park located at the southern end of Gasparilla Island. You can get there by way of the Boca Grande Causeway. There is a $6 toll to enter the island, a $3 fee to park a vehicle, and $2 fee for pedestrians and bicyclists. The park is open 365 days a year from 8am to sunset. Things to do in Gasparilla Island State Park include kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, searching for shark teeth along the beach, or visiting the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum. The Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-3pm and is closed during the month of August. The is no fee, the museum is included with admission to the park. Be aware that in certain parts of the park swimming in prohibited. Strong currents run through Boca Grande pass making conditions extremely dangerous for swimmers.
Go Fishing on a Tarpon Charter
Boca Grande is widely considered to be the tarpon fishing capital of the world. People travel from all over the world to come fish the waters of this small island. They come in hopes of the chance to catch one of these beautiful game fish. There are many guides and USCG certified captains located throughout Boca Grande that offer fishing charters and the opportunity to land a tarpon. Rates depend on the length of the charter. Trips are typically available from 4 hours to 10 hours. Tarpon fishing season in Boca Grande is from May to June, so this will be the best time of year to visit if this is an activity you’re interested in. Keep in mind that this is the busiest season of the year and the island will be more crowded than usual.
Where to Eat in Boca Grande
Boca Grande is a small and quiet town but has plenty of big flavor to offer. You can find many restaurants and quick eateries to dine at no matter what you’re in the mood for. There are breakfast options, pubs, casual lunch spots, and waterfront restaurants to choose from.
The Inn Bakery
The Inn Bakery is a small bakery affiliated with the Gasparilla Inn & Club. Open from 6am-2:30pm on Wednesday-Sunday, they offer almost any type of breakfast food or pastry you could want and everything is made fresh daily! Located in the heart of Boca Grande, the bakery is easily accessible by golf cart, car, or walking. The Inn offers breakfast options such as donuts, pastries, bagels, breakfast sandwiches and quiche. There are also coffees and beverages including lattes, espresso, and hot tea. Lunch options are also available that include sandwiches and salads.
South Beach Bar & Grill
South Beach Bar & Grill is a waterfront dining option on the south end of Boca Grande near Gasparilla Island State Park. It is one of the top ranked seafood restaurants in Boca Grande and is open 7 days a week. They offer fresh, local seafood and unmatched views of the stunning Gulf of Mexico. They also provide both indoor and outdoor seating. There are different lunch and dinner menus with the dinner menu being more extensive but still offering some lunch favorites. You can’t go wrong with the seafood strudel! Lunch is daily from 11:30-5 and dinner is daily from 5pm-9pm. For those who are not into seafood, South Beach also has chicken and steak choices as well.
Miller’s Dockside is another waterfront restaurant located inside Boca Grande Marina. It is a casual style island bar and grille with multiple TV’s for catching up on sporting events and a menu including local seafood staples and kid friendly options. They are open Wednesday-Sunday from 11:30am – 9pm and offer both indoor and outdoor seating. You can also reach this restaurant by boat or kayak as it is located just a few minutes from Boca Grande pass!
Boca Grande, A Relaxing Weekend For All
If you’re in search of a low key, ultra relaxing break from reality in the Florida sunshine look no further than Boca Grande. Although often overlooked for more popular and exciting Florida destinations, there is much to discover on this historic island. It is dog friendly, kid friendly, and all around a great destination to enjoy the company of those you love and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!