GASPARILLA ISLAND STATE PARK
Separated from the mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, this island is part of a chain of Gulf Coast barrier islands. The centerpiece of Gasparilla is the restored Boca Grande Lighthouse built in 1890. Swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and nature study are popular activities. Shelling is particularly good in the winter months. Two picnic areas offer pavilions for shade and scenic views of the surrounding water. The lighthouse is open to the public 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily from November through April. From May through July and September it is open Wednesday through Sunday. The lighthouse will be closed during the month of August. It is closed on these major holidays: New Years Day, Martin Luther King?s Birthday, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas.
NATURE OF THE AREA
Some of the protected animal species that may be seen on the island are the West Indian manatee, gopher tortoise, southern bald eagle, least tern, royal tern, sandwich tern and the American oystercatcher.
HISTORY OF THE AREA
One interesting feature of Gasparilla Island State Park is the wooden lighthouse on the southern end of the island. The lighthouse was first placed into use by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1890 as a guide to mariners seeking the entrance to Port Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor. In 1966, the Coast Guard closed the lighthouse down.
The Federal Government donated the lighthouse to Lee County in 1972 and by 1980 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Department of Natural Resources (today the Department of Environmental Protection) assumed ownership of the lighthouse in 1985 and spent a year restoring the complex. The light was relit in November 1986.
Please come and visit the Lighthouse Museum & Visitor Center. Located in the park is the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum. Also located in the Lighthouse Parking Area is the restored Amory Memorial Chapel. This chapel was built in the 1950s and served the residents of the dormitories that were located in what is now the Dunes Parking Area. The chapel is available to rent for public and private events.
Swimming and sunbathing are very popular activities and along the gulfside of the island are four parking areas, Range Light, Sea Grape, Dunes, and Seawall, which offer access to our beautiful gulf beaches.
Pristine beach on the Gulf of Mexico. This beach is perfect for shelling, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and sunbathing.
The Gulf of Mexico beaches provide year-round excellent saltwater fishing in the waters adjacent to the park and in the deep waters of Boca Grande Pass.
Snorkel in the pristine, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You must provide you own equipment.
Two picnic areas, with covered tables and restroom facilities, are located in the park which offer scenic views of the surrounding water.
Enjoy a leisurely bike ride on our trails, which meander through our beautiful barrier island. You must furnish your own bikes.
Enjoy a leisurely walk on our nature trails, which meander through our beautiful barrier island. Along the way you can see many species of birds, including several rare and endangered, that visit our island in the spring and fall, during their migratory journeys. Some of these species use our island?s natural resources for their nesting activities.
These programs, given by our rangers, cover a wide variety of topics including the history of the island and interpretation of the natural resources found on the island.
Pets are allowed in this park, however, not on the beaches. They must be well-behaved and kept on a six-foot, hand-held leash at all times. Pets must not be left unattended, nor taken into restroom facilities or onto playground equipment. Service animals are welcome in all areas and buildings of the park, as required by law. Scuba: Scuba diving can be done off of the beaches.
Gasparilla Island is a barrier island on Florida's southwest coast. Access to the island is via the Boca Grande Causeway at C.R. 775 and Placida.