Each Island Community is very unique. Let us start our overview of the Island Communities or also called Barrier Islands. Florida's Gulf Coast is blessed with many Barrier Islands that line up like crown jewels on a string. Starting to the north off the coast of Bradenton lays the barrier islands of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Driving south you see Lido Key and famous Siesta Key. Further south are the islands of Casey Key and Manasota Key. Don Pedro Key and the Gasparilla Islands and some tiny keys are at the tail of the chain of keys.
Although it is known as a "private" island, Longboat Key's 12 miles of sun-drenched beach is a popular destination for visitors from all around the world. Longboat Key's span crosses Sarasota and Manatee Counties. While Manatee County governs the northern part of the island, Sarasota County handles the affairs of the southern section of the island.
Unless you are a couch potatoe, you will love Longboat Key. Activities on Longboat Key are endless. Fishing, shelling, biking, rollerblading, and water sports are some of the activities the island has to offer; you name it, and you can be sure that you can do it on Longboat Key. Tennis and Golf enthusiasts are welcome to take advantage of the first-class Longboat Key Country Club. There are only three barrier islands with a golf course, Longboat Key, Venice Island, and Gaspaaarilla Island. All other islands have no space for such an extravagance.
The island is only one bridge away from Sarasota, the city that offers many cultural activities.The Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Ringling Museum, Asolo Theater, Sarasota Ballet or the Sarasota Opera House are only a fraction of the vast selection of entertainment choices.
The new John Ringling Causeway bridge connects the island with the mainland. Another bridge connects the island with Longboat Key, just a little further north. From there you can go to Anna Maria.
St. Armand's Circle, the beautifully landscaped roundabout in the middle of the island, is where you can find the heart and soul of the St Armand's Key.
With the world famous shopping at St. Armand's Circle, the fascinating Mote Marine Aquarium, and some of the finest restaurants in the area, St Armands and Lido Key are impressive pearls in the string of the Barrier Islands.
More than hundred years ago, John Ringling had a Vision - today, that Vision is called "St. Armand's Circle". At that time, visionary John Ringling realized already the island's high potential. Therefore he bought the St. Armand's Key in 1917 and planned a development that was laid out in a circle. That design was quite revolutionary in 1917.
Today the rotary and Italian-Style Garden is, thanks to John's vision, an enchanting shopping, restaurant and nightlife district renowned for its continental flavor and graceful synthesis of past and present. Antique statuary and contemporary architecture contribute to an international atmosphere
Siesta Key offers a getaway as you've never experienced. Famous for its with quartz-crystal sand as white and soft as powdered sugar, it’s clear, warm waters and tropical nature preserves it is haven for locals and vacationers from all over the world.
Siesta Key Village is a walkable section in the heart of the Island. You will find small boutiques, fine restaurants, bars and tiki bars with live music.
Casey Key is one breathtaking tropical seclusion amid an atmosphere of unmistakable affluence. It is impossible to travel its eight-mile length without uttering the word “wow” at some point.
Manasota Key, off the beaten path, is another pearl in the string of the West Coast's island communities, is an enchanting barrier island off the coast of Englewood. The northern and central parts of the island, located in Sarasota County, are entirely residential. A narrow road snakes its way along the Key past island homes on one-acre lots. Many of which have their back yard on the bay and their front yard facing the Gulf of Mexico. They are tucked behind lush tropical foliage and are barely visible.
About half of Manasota Key is located in Charlotte County and has more action, with a few low-rise condos, waterfront restaurants, Tiki Bars with live music and small shops.
So far all island communities are connected to the mainland by bridges. The next four islands are not so easy to reach. There is a ferry connecting Don Pedro Island but it is quite costly to get your car over to the other side, and it is pretty useless. If you want to go there to spend a few hours on the beach, you might be better off leaving the car on the mainland. Everything is within walking distance on the island.
The islands of Don Pedro, Palm, Knight, and Little Gasparilla can all be put together in one big group because they are essentially a cluster of islands off the coast of the Cape Haze peninsular. Once Separated - the Islands come now in one Piece
There is not much in the way of shopping here with only a general store for the necessities. The Islanders need to purchase everything else in Englewood or someplace else on the mainland. There are about 300 homes on Little Gasparilla Island and not too many lots to build on are left.
If you want to feel what Robinson Crusoe experienced on his island, this might get as close as it can get. Although, you have power, you have water, you have everything - and there are, hopefully, no cannibals on the island. There is also no "Friday" preparing the drink for you, though. Or maybe there is? Well, we don't know.
Gasparilla Island - Boca Grande
Gasparilla Island is a stunning Island, where you can get lost while wandering on the seven miles of pristine sugar-white sandy beach. During low tide, you may exploring the Back Bay. There is a bike path through the entire island. Tourism and fishing are the economic basis on this tranquil tropical barrier island. A bridge connects the mainland with Gasparilla Island, where the famous Boca Grande is the capitol. During the winter months the wealthy visitors rub shoulders with local fisher men and longtime local residents.
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