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.
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.
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.