Things to Do in Boca Grande

Best Things to Do in Boca Grande, Florida

Boca Grande, Florida, is a breathtakingly beautiful island located on the Gulf Coast. Known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and world-class fishing, Boca Grande is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a relaxing, sun-soaked vacation. Whether you’re an avid angler, a beach bum, or simply looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there’s something for everyone in Boca Grande.

One of the top things to do in Boca Grande is to explore the island’s many beaches. With miles of pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters, Boca Grande’s beaches are some of the best in the world. Whether you’re looking to swim, sunbathe, or simply relax with a good book, you’ll find everything you need on Boca Grande’s beaches. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at snorkeling or scuba diving to explore the island’s vibrant underwater world.

Another must-do activity in Boca Grande is fishing. As one of the world’s top destinations for tarpon fishing, Boca Grande offers some of the best angling opportunities in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice fisherman, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to catch a trophy fish in Boca Grande’s waters. And if you’re not into fishing, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy, from kayaking and paddleboarding to hiking and birdwatching.

Exploring Boca Grande’s Natural Beauty

Gasparilla Island State Park

One of the most popular natural attractions in Boca Grande is Gasparilla Island State Park. This state park is famous for its beautiful white-sand beaches, which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and collecting shells. You can also explore the park’s nature trails, which wind through mangrove forests and offer glimpses of local wildlife like dolphins and marine life.

Cayo Costa State Park

Another great option for nature lovers is Cayo Costa State Park. This remote island park is only accessible by boat, but it’s well worth the trip. The park is home to nine miles of pristine beaches, as well as nature trails that wind through pine forests and past wildflowers. You might even spot some of the park’s resident wildlife, like manatees or sea turtles.

Boca Grande Beaches

Of course, you can’t visit Boca Grande without spending some time on the beach! The island is home to several beautiful beaches, including Gasparilla Island Beach and Boca Grande Beach. Both offer stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Wildlife and Nature Trails

If you’re interested in exploring Boca Grande’s wildlife and nature trails, you’re in luck! The island is home to several great trails, including the Boca Grande Bike Path and the Boca Grande Nature Trail. These trails wind through mangrove forests and offer glimpses of local wildlife like dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles. You’ll also have the chance to spot native birds and plants along the way.

Adventures on the Water

Fishing and Boca Grande Pass

Boca Grande is known for its world-class fishing, especially for tarpon. The Boca Grande Pass is a must-visit spot for any angler. The pass is a natural channel that connects Charlotte Harbor with the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of the deepest natural passes in Florida, making it an ideal spot for fishing. You can catch a variety of fish, including tarpon, snook, redfish, and trout. You can also hire a fishing charter to take you out to the pass for an unforgettable fishing experience.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

If you want to explore the waters of Boca Grande at your own pace, kayaking and paddleboarding are great options. You can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the mangrove tunnels of Charlotte Harbor or paddle along the shores of Gasparilla Island. You might even spot some dolphins or manatees along the way.

Snorkeling and Water Activities

Boca Grande is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, and the crystal-clear waters make it an ideal spot for snorkeling. You can rent snorkeling gear and explore the underwater world of Boca Grande. You might see colorful fish, sea turtles, and even some shipwrecks. If you’re looking for more excitement, you can try other water activities like jet skiing or parasailing.

Cultural and Historical Highlights

Boca Grande Historical Society and Museums

The Boca Grande Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island. The society operates several museums and historic sites, including the Boca Grande History Center, the Johann Fust Library, and the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum. The museums feature exhibits on local history, art, and culture, and offer educational programs, tours, and events throughout the year.

Historic Downtown Boca Grande

Downtown Boca Grande is a charming and picturesque area that is steeped in history and tradition. The downtown district is home to many of the island’s oldest and most iconic buildings, including the Gasparilla Inn and Club, the Banyan Street Historic District, and the Boca Grande Historic District. Visitors can stroll along the streets, admire the architecture, and browse the many shops, galleries, and restaurants that line the sidewalks.

Lighthouses and Maritime Heritage

Boca Grande has a rich maritime heritage that is reflected in its many lighthouses and museums. The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum is one of the most popular attractions on the island, and offers visitors a glimpse into the history of the local fishing and shipping industries. The Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum is another must-see destination, featuring exhibits on boat-building, fishing, and navigation. Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in learning more about the area’s culture and heritage, Boca Grande has something for everyone.

Leisure and Recreation

Golfing at Gasparilla Golf Club

If you are a golf enthusiast, then Gasparilla Golf Club is the perfect place for you. This 18-hole championship golf course is located in the heart of Boca Grande and is surrounded by banyan trees and beautiful landscapes. The course is designed by Pete Dye and features challenging holes that will test your skills. Gasparilla Golf Club is open to members and guests of the Gasparilla Inn & Club. So, book your tee time and get ready for an exciting round of golf.

Tennis and Biking

If you want to stay active during your vacation, then you can try your hand at tennis or biking. The Gasparilla Inn & Club has six Har-Tru tennis courts that are open to members and guests. You can also rent a bike and explore the island on your own. The six-mile Boca Grande Rail Trail is a popular route for bikers and offers stunning views of the Gulf Coast.

Spa and Wellness

If you want to relax and rejuvenate, then you can visit the Spa at the Gasparilla Inn & Club. The spa offers a variety of services, including massage, facials, and body treatments. You can also visit the Smart Studio, which offers fitness classes and personal training sessions. The spa and wellness center is open to members and guests of the Gasparilla Inn & Club.

Dining and Culinary Experiences

Temptation Restaurant and Other Eateries

The Temptation Restaurant is one of the most popular eateries in Boca Grande, and for good reason. The service is excellent, and the quality of the food is top-notch. You can enjoy a variety of dishes, including seafood, steak, and pasta. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, The Pink Elephant is a great option. The restaurant is known for its laid-back atmosphere and delicious food.

The Pink Elephant and Unique Dining

The Pink Elephant is one of the most unique dining experiences you can have in Boca Grande. The restaurant is located in a historic building and features an eclectic menu that includes everything from seafood to burgers. The atmosphere is lively and fun, making it a great place to hang out with friends. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to the Gasparilla Inn for a fine dining experience. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including seafood, steak, and pasta, and the service is impeccable.

Shopping and Souvenirs

Downtown Shops and Gift Stores

Downtown Boca Grande is home to a variety of shops and boutiques that offer everything from clothing and accessories to home decor and souvenirs. Some of the most popular shops include the Boca Grande Outfitters, which offers a wide range of outdoor gear and clothing, and the Boca Grande Trading Company, which sells unique gifts and home decor items.

For those looking for seashells and other beach-themed souvenirs, the Shell Factory and the Islander Trading Post are both great options. The Shell Factory offers a wide selection of seashells, as well as other beach-themed items like sand dollars and starfish. The Islander Trading Post, on the other hand, offers a unique selection of gifts, including handcrafted items made by local artisans.

Crafts and Unique Finds

If you are looking for something truly unique, Boca Grande has several shops that specialize in crafts and one-of-a-kind items. The Boca Grande Art Center is a great place to find art and crafts made by local artists, including paintings, sculptures, and pottery. The center also offers classes and workshops for those interested in learning more about different art forms.

Another great option for unique finds is the Fossil Expeditions store, which sells a variety of fossils and other natural history items. The store also offers glass bottom rentals, which allow you to explore the waters around Boca Grande and see the marine life up close.

Events and Seasonal Activities

Tarpon Season and Fishing Tournaments

During the winter months, Boca Grande becomes the ultimate destination for tarpon fishing. Known as the “Tarpon Capital of the World,” the area attracts fishing enthusiasts from around the globe. You can embark on thrilling tarpon fishing charters led by experienced captains, such as the renowned Captain Chris, for an unforgettable experience. Additionally, the town hosts prestigious fishing tournaments, including the “World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament,” adding to the excitement of the season.

Farmers Market and Local Events

Exploring Boca Grande’s local events and farmers market is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the community’s vibrant culture. The farmers market, held regularly, offers a delightful array of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local crafts. Additionally, you can partake in various local events, from art exhibitions to live entertainment, enhancing your experience of this charming coastal town.

Planning Your Visit

First-Timer Tips

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your first visit:

  • Bring sunscreen and a hat. The Florida sun can be intense, especially during the summer months. Make sure to protect your skin and stay hydrated.
  • Pack light, breathable clothing. Boca Grande is a casual town, so leave your formal wear at home. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics that will keep you cool in the Florida heat.
  • Don’t forget your camera. Boca Grande is a photographer’s paradise, with stunning sunsets, wildlife, and scenery. Make sure to capture your memories on film (or digital, as the case may be).
  • Try the local cuisine. Boca Grande has a variety of restaurants serving fresh seafood, Cuban cuisine, and more. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Transportation and Access

Boca Grande is located on Gasparilla Island, which is accessible via the Boca Grande Causeway. If you’re flying in, the closest airports are in Fort Myers, Tampa, and Punta Gorda. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to Boca Grande.

Once you’re on the island, you can get around by car, bike, or golf cart. Many visitors opt for golf carts, which are a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the island. You can rent a golf cart from one of the many rental companies on the island.

If you’re staying on the island, most hotels and vacation rentals offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. If you’re staying off the island, you can park your car at one of the public parking lots on the causeway and take a shuttle to the island.