Boca Grande: Florida’s Hidden Gem
Most people have heard of Boca Raton on Florida’s southeast coast, but not everyone has heard of the other Boca. Boca Grande is a shimmering jewel on the southwest coast of Florida, an idyllic small town pristinely set upon Gasparilla Island with a bevy of benefits for visitors and residents alike. It’s well-known for having a beautiful and historic downtown, beaches with sugar sand, sparkling blue water, and is a bountiful spot for world-class tarpon fishing. It’s also known for having golf carts as the primary mode of transportation since it’s such a small place.
Discover Boca Grande today as a new resident or on your next vacation! This charming place might be small, but amid the coziness it has plenty to offer those who come here with spectacular beaches, fantastic cafes, and cute boutiques. You’ll never find a warmer welcome than at Boca Grande.
Boca Grande Activities
It is a bit of a sleepy town, but that’s part of what’s so enticing about Boca Grande. There are still plenty of things to do and see. Families and retirees enjoy the peaceful, natural tone here, while couples in need of a getaway will find the seclusion the best feature.
Since it is located on Gasparilla Island, the quaint and quiet island life here is full of beach experiences. Enjoying a day at the beach is easy and can be as active or relaxed as you’d like. Pack up a picnic and watch the waves roll onto the shore. Let the waves wash up on to the beach and onto your feet as you stroll along the water. Build sandcastles. Bird watch. Pick shells from the sand. Charter a fishing boat. Boca Grande is especially known for its prime tarpon fishing. Even if you’ve never gone fishing before, it’s never too late to try this thrilling activity.
If fishing isn’t your thing, why not try out paddleboarding? You can also rent kayaks and other gear to have your very own outdoor adventure at one of the beautiful nearby parks like the Gasparilla Island State Park and Cayo Costa State Park. The Boca Grande Bike Trail is fantastic for those that like to ride their bikes. You can rent them easily and cycle around the trail, getting exercise while taking in the breathtaking natural beauty of Florida.
You’ll also find museums like the Gasparilla Lighthouse Museum and the Boca Grande Historical Society and Museum. Inside them, you’ll learn captivating tidbits about this sweet little city.
Boca Grande Beaches
As an island community, there is no shortage of beaches in Boca Grande. Whether you visit Boca Grande Beach or top-rated Sand Spur Beach, you’re bound to fall in love with this peaceful beach lifestyle. Sunsets here are picture perfect and the stuff poets use for inspiration.
Boca Grande Lighthouses
Another fantastic thing to see as you spend the day relaxing on the beach are the lighthouses. There are two different ones that you can visit. One is the Boca Grande Lighthouse that you can see when you visit the museum. It has endured the tests of time since 1890 and it looks very different than most lighthouses you’ve likely seen. It looks more like a beach house. The Boca Grande Rear Range Lighthouse however looks more like a lighthouse. It was originally constructed in 1881 but in 1932, it was rebuilt and reopened. Like the museums, the lighthouses offer a unique slice of history for visitors to feast upon.
Boca Grande Dining
Speaking of feasts, Boca Grande might be a small town, but it’s upscale and offers plenty of places to eat. The Pink Elephant at The Gasparilla Inn & Club is one of the most popular, offering Florida as it should be to diners from town to visitors from afar with casual food and signature cocktails. An extensive wine list and mouth-watering dessert menu make it a place you shouldn’t miss. For lunch or dinner, the entire menu from start to finish offers comforting dishes like a hearty beef brisket sandwich, shrimp and lobster roll, and sea scallops & grits, to name a few.
The Outlet at the Innlet is a one of the few places on the island that you’ll find breakfast, particularly one that is so robust and with such a resplendent view. It perfectly captures the vibe of the island with a relaxed atmosphere and breakfast and lunch favorites like pancakes, eggs and bacon, sandwiches and burgers.
Another family-friendly option is the Loose Caboose. Dishes like grouper fingers, conch fritters, and the seafood pot pie cleverly showcase the freshest catches from the Floridian waters. Meanwhile, the key lime pie is so painfully delicious you need to save room for it.
There are no shortages of places to eat in Boca Grande, but even a short stay may afford you the chance to taste them all. For sweet treats, check out one of the bakeries or cafes, each one with key lime pie that will make you question which one really is the best. Taste them all and see!
Boca Grande Hotels
After all this eating, walking along the beach, fishing, and lighthouse touring, you’ll be plenty tired. Thankfully, Boca Grande is home to some of the loveliest hotels around. The Gasparilla Inn and Club is one of the best places to stay in this tiny town. It’s historic and elegant with a courteous and thoughtful staff. With gorgeous Floridian-inspired rooms, dining, a luxurious swimming pool and access to activities from tennis and golf to spa retreats, there is nothing that hasn’t been thought of to ensure your comfort and happiness during your stay.
The Innlet on the Waterfront is another ideal option for your stay. Tucked on the water at the Boca Grande bayou, the lush tropical landscape and quiet water views make for the ideal retreat. It’s a tranquil place to take in the scenery, dine, and find plenty of beach activities.
There are also plenty of vacations rentals in Boca Grande that are perfect for extended stays or larger groups. This is a great alternative for visitors who want to save a little money on their accommodations.
Boca Grande Golf Courses
While it’s true that many people come to Florida to visit the miles and miles of beautiful beaches, just as many of them come to play through rounds and rounds of golf on one of the pristine golf courses. At Boca Grande, you’ll have access to two golf courses.
Rotonda Golf & Country Club features 99 holes that provide choices for people of any skill level. One course called “Long Marsh” was designed by Ted McAnlis and is good for any skill level from beginner to pro. Other courses abound, offering something for beginners and experts alike to enjoy.
Riverwood Golf & Country Club features a completely unique and beautifully designed 18-hole, par 72 course. Gene Bates was the brainchild behind this impeccable golfing paradise which netted 4.5 stars by Gold Digest. The special thing about this course is that it features wooded terrain, salt marshes, and natural Florida wetlands meandering along with it, making it unlike anything else.
Boca Grande Fishing
If you’d rather not be a landlubber during your stay in Boca Grande, why not go on a charter fishing tour? Whether you’re seasoned in fishing or you want to try out your sea legs, there are plenty of tours to choose from. The Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association (BGFGA) welcomes you to fish in the abundant waters as well as urges you to plan your fishing excursion in advance with a captain who can best meet your needs. In this way, you can be sure that you’ll have the best fishing expedition you’ve ever had and memories that will last forever.
Boca Grande Entertainment
While it’s true that this quiet, picturesque city on the sea isn’t wild with nightlife, that’s part of the draw here. Still, the Boca Grande Community Center offers a variety of entertainment options from plays to musicals to concerts. Reserve tickets and attend a show after dining in one of the local restaurants.
Boca Grande Farmers Market
The Boca Grande Farmers Market is unique in that it is a virtual farmers market. That means you can shop from local vendors with a click of your mouse or a tap on your smartphone. While it might seem unusual to not stroll through stalls of fresh produce and handmade offerings, ordering online makes a lot of sense because you can find the freshest items around at any time of day and have them delivered to your location. This is a perfect option for those staying in vacation rentals or places that have a kitchenette so they can get fresh local produce and meats brought to them to prepare their meals.
How to get to Boca Grande
If Boca Grande sounds like the ideal retreat for you, you’re probably wondering how to get there. While there’s no major airport in Boca Grande, you have a choice of flying into either the Ft. Myers Airport or the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport. Alternatively, if you charter a private jet, you can arrive in total style by landing at the private Coral Creek Airport or the Boca Grande Jet Center. You can also arrive by car or boat if you desire.
Boca Grande, a Vacation from the Ordinary
If you’re looking to have a different vacation in Florida, one that is relaxing and not overcrowded like other big destinations, Boca Grande is a prime choice. Instead of fighting for a good spot on the beach over on the southeast coast of Florida, Boca Grande has miles and miles of unspoiled beaches for you to relax on. There are no theme parks here, but you’ll find that getting in touch with nature through fishing, boating, searching for pretty shells on the beach, and bird watching are simpler things that give you the time to connect with yourself as well as those you love.
In today’s technological world, it’s nice to pause time and rewind to an era where things like going to the ice cream shop by the beach were the highlight of your day. Shopping in boutiques full of unique items to take home and simply walking around make for many more pleasant ways to enjoy Boca Grande. Once you set foot here, you’ll easily see why it is a hidden gem that sparkles on Florida’s southwest coast.