The global pandemic and the local statistics have us staying close to home these days. The view through the windshield takes in the palm trees and canals in a Gulf Coast Florida city.
This week, we ventured sixty-two miles to Boca Grande, a gorgeous strip of beach on Gasparilla Island. The tourist maps use little yellow and red umbrella symbols to show the public beaches that dot the shoreline and the islands between Naples and Sarasota, but there were none pictured on this stretch near Boca Grande.
I was not expecting a beach day, just an opportunity to see some new territory, with houses and gardens that have been described as gorgeous. But after crossing the water (with a small fee of $6, cards only, no cash), I was delighted to find an access point to the Gulf waters, with free parking, lots of empty spaces, and a beach with only four other people on it.
After a relaxing barefoot walk in the sand, the drive through town took us past charming beach houses, as promised, and the Gasparilla Inn and Club, an appealing glimpse of ‘Old Florida’, with a gleaming, two-story-columned main building and about twenty cottages and villas nearby.
Our last stop on this single-day, stay-safe road trip was the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. Built in 1890, the lighthouse is the oldest structure on the island. This spot is popular with people who want to fish, and was a lot busier. Coolers, umbrellas, beach chairs, big fishing tackle boxes, an old-school CD player blasting classic rock, and no face masks added up to ‘not my scene right now’, and we put it in the rear-view mirror.