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 Kings Birthday, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. Visit www.barrierislandparkssociety.org for more information. Located on the south end of Gasparilla Island on the Boca Grande Causeway (private toll) at County Road 775 and Placida.

Very easy and fun biking. I parked in boat launching lot at entrance to Boca Grande causeway ($3/bike toll for causeway) and rode south approx 10 miles on bike path to southern tip of island (at lighthouse). Wanted to take alternate route (bayside) back, but had very difficult time finding access - all east bound roads marked "private". Stopped at the guard shack on gated South Harbor Drive to ask and the friendly guard there said to go ahead down SHD and pick up golf cart path on left. That got me there and it was worth the search - very pretty ride past Bayfront and some very exclusive homes. Nice beaches to stop at along the way and a couple of good eateries in the downtown area.

road biking
Monday, January 25, 2016