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Gasparilla Island State Park is in Lee County on Floridas south west (Gulf) coast. It is near Boca Grande and is one of the chain of Gulf Coast barrier islands.
According to Folklore, it was so named after a pirate called Jose Gaspar, who was supposed to have hidden his booty on the island. However, it is now thought to have been called after a missionary of the same name and this does indeed seem more likely.
This park is notable for its light house that was constructed from wood way back in 1890; this was erected to guide the ships safely into Charlotte Harbour and Boca Grande. It was closed by the coast guard in 1966 and 6 years later was donated to the county. It was not until 1985 that restoration work started and this got the lights working again.
There is a good self tour of the light house museum and you can also see The Amory Memorial Chapel which was constructed in the 1950s to serve the local people. This has also been restored and is well well scheduling in to your day out.
The state park is situated on the south end of the island and has a lovely beach and nature trails. The beach is good for shelling (particularly in the winter months) and swimming from or just lazing on.
When you have had enough of sun bathing, try the trails which are exceptionally good for spotting birds. Fishing is also allowed here; try casting off at the Boca Grande pass. You will need a fishing licence, these are available from Walmarts, sports stores or on line; you can also buy reasonably priced fishing equipment from Walmart.
The rangers run some special events here, so maybe you can time your visit to coincide with one of these. Beach nature walks and turtle walks are very popular and you will pick up a whole lot of new facts and figures from your super knowledgable guide .
The lighthouse does not open every day of the week, so phone nearer your visit to check this out.
It is wise to take sun screen, a sun hat and plenty to drink and some snacks. During the summer, insect repellant is a must (and by the way do not eat bananas for breakfast as the smell attracts the little blighters)and also sunglasses as the glare from the beach is discomfitting.
Gasparilla Island State Park
P. O. Box 1150
Boca Grande, Florida 33921
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