Island Communities on Florida's West Coast

Barrier Islands Real Estate and Homes for Sale


No island is like the other; they are as different as they can be. Let us take you on a journey and overview the Island Communities, also called the "Barrier Islands." First of all, let us clarify what specific part of Florida's Gulf Coast is blessed with those Islands that line up like jewels on a string. The Panhandle and the coast's first stretch down to Tampa do not have a single island. Sorry about that. The Panhandle has a bunch of oil drilling platforms within the vicinity, but we don't consider that an enhancement. 

Living on an Island

There are homes for sale on the barrier islands because people love to live there. Some islands are relatively densely populated and come with a village or small town center, and others are strictly residential. Some barrier islands come with multi-story condominium complexes; other islands do not permit homes with more than one story. You will not find commercial activities, like bars, restaurants, boat and jet ski rentals, or shops on every island. Some islands are very touristy (Anna Maria, St Armands, Siesta Key)while others are quieter (Casey Key, Manasota Key) or very quiet (Don Pedro Island, Little Gasparilla, Bird Key). If you want to buy real estate on an island, expect it to be pricier. Buildable lots are limited, and existing homes or condos tend to stick to the owner or his family. 

The starting point is Tampa Bay

The string of barrier islands starts with Tampa Bay and the first key, Anna Maria Island. Some barrier islands have connections to other islands; many are only linked directly to the mainland. Some are original islands; others became islands when the Army Corps of Engineers built the Intracoastal Waterway and separated that little piece of earth from the mainland. 

Let's start with the first bunch of barrier islands in front of Bradenton and Sarasota. Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, St Armands Key, Lido Key, and Bird Key are all connected. Each island comes with its unique tropical setting. 

Bird Key is the quietest of the five islands because the whole island is a gated residential area. The private yacht club is the focus of the island. However, this does not necessarily mean many houses do not have individual boat lifts.

You will see the famous Siesta Key when you drive south on US 41. After a stopover, continue with your journey south, and you will reach Casey Key, off the coast of Nokomis. The Jetty is the natural barrier between Casey Key and the next island. There is no bridge to cross that waterway. 

Venice Island is the following prime location in Venice, and everybody who lives in Venice would like to live there. Further south is Manasota Key, located in front of Englewood. Don Pedro Key, Palm Island, Little Gasparilla Island, and Gasparilla Island are the last islands of this beautiful first section of the string.

Gasparilla Island is not the end of the world

The islands of Captiva and Sanibel are the next diamonds in that string. They are located across from the Gasparilla Sound, further south, and closer to Fort Myers. Gasparilla sound used to be a deep water harbor in old times. Phosphate was shipped from there, but it was abandoned with the invention of chemical fertilizers.  The water is rough, vast, and sometimes dangerous. Therefore, it is an absolute natural barrier between the two sections of the line-up of the barrier islands. 

Estero Island, Lovers Key, Big Hickory Island, Keewaydin Island, and Marco Island are the next in line, following Captiva and Sanibel. Before you reach another string of islands, the Florida Keys, the Ten Thousand Islands are the last, primarily uninhabitable, islands in front of Florida's coastline.  

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a different ball game. They stretch out into the Gulf of Mexico/Straits of Florida with no protecting coast behind. 

Start your journey, learn more about each island, and view all homes for sale. However, our focus is on the barrier islands north of Captiva.  

Interested in Island Living? We'd love to hear from you!