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.
Learn more about Longboat Key
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 both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Manatee County governs the northern part of the island; Sarasota County handles the affairs of the southern section;
If you are the athletic type, activities on Longboat Key are endless. Fishing, shelling, biking, rollerblading, and water sports are some of the activities on the island; 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 not too many barrier islands with golf courses. However, Longboat Key is one of them.
The island is only one bridge away from Sarasota, and the city 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.
Learn more about Lido Key
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
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, Lido Key is another impressive pearl in the string of the Barrier Islands. It is embedded in lush sub-tropical scenery with a beautiful white sandy beach and turquoise warm water.
John Ringling had a Vision – that Vision is called “St. Armand’s Circle”. Visionary John Ringling realized the island’s high potential. Therefore he bought 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
Learn more about Siesta Key
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., the area is a haven for 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 with or without live music and lots of great atmosphere.
Learn more about Casey Key
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.
History of Casey Key
The island was known as “Chaise’s Key” when the first map was drawn in 1849. It was renamed “Casey Key” in 1856 and relabeled “Treasure Island” during the Florida land boom in the 1920’s. But the name Casey Key was more sticky and made it somehow back.
Casey Key is an extraordinary and unique barrier island, with unspoiled private beach access.The island is strictly residential with only a few small motels near the southern end. There is only one long and winding road cutting through the center of the island. Here and there you can catch a glimpse of the beach or of the Gulf of Mexico. In certain spots, the island is so narrow that you can see the water of the Gulf on one side and the water of the Intracoastal Waterway on the other side. At some places along the key, you could easily lob a seashell across the entire width of the island. A big section of the island is less than 800’ wide.
Where is Nokomis Beach?
At the south end of the island, before you reach the jetty, you will see Nokomis Beach. This beach is the only public beach on Casey Key. There are several restrooms, and there are also lifeguards on duty, but bring your food and drinks. No commercial activity means that there are no restaurants, shops or concession stands. That does not mean that you cannot use the full length of the island’s beach, which is running all along the side of the Gulf of Mexico. There is just no access from the road because there are private residences lined up along the beach. The southern most tip of the island is called the Jetty’s. You will find an charming old concession stand with modern restroom facilities, a fishing pier and access to the beach and sheltered grill pavilions.
Casey Key Real Estate
The exclusive Island of Casey Key is home to some of Florida’s most extravagant residences. The Casey Key real estate market is known for having some of the most beautiful and most expensive waterfront homes in Sarasota County. In fact, you’ll often see people passing through the island to catch a glimpse of Casey Key’s large waterfront estates–many of which extend from the Gulf to the bay.
By the way, the majority of the island is a conservation district, established in the early 1970’s by the Florida State Legislature, and that’s the reason why this island looks so unspoiled.
Casey Key has only room for 400 properties while enforcing minimal commercial activity and a ban on high-rise structures. Because the eight-mile strand of properties can never go longer, sprawl inland or soar upward, demand for Casey Key properties has itself soared upward in recent years compared with Sarasota County’s other barrier islands.
Learn more about Manasota Key
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.
The southern part of the island is already located in Charlotte County and has more action, with a few low-rise condos, waterfront restaurants, Tiki Bars with live music and small shops.
Manasota Key a Barrier Island off the Coast of Englewood offers four beach access points. When you cross the north bridge, you will inevitably run into the first beach. Manasota Beach offers newly renovated restrooms, gazebos outdoor showers and lifeguard on duty. There is also plenty of free parking space. If you want to bring your boat, you can launch your baby on the opposite side of the road.
About four miles further south you will hit the Middle Beach. There are also new restrooms, outdoor showers, and several parking areas. Parking is free. There are no lifeguards on duty. Knowing how to stay afloat in the water helps tremendously.
Across from the beach you will find a beautiful boardwalk and enjoy a short stroll through the mangroves. By following the dirt road, you will reach a kayak and canoe boat launch.
Four miles further south you will reach Englewood Beach. All new restrooms, playground, basketball field, gazebos with grills and boardwalks through the dunes. There are restaurants, bars, and small convenient stores nearby. Englewood Beach offers plenty of space for parking for a fee.
The most southern tip of Manasota Key is occupied by Stump Pass Beach State Park, a beautiful State Park where you can swim and launch your kayaks. If you don’t have one, you can rent a kayak or paddle board right at the park. They have restrooms, outdoor showers, gazebos and picnic tables. Oh, yes, and they have a soda machine.
Each of these beaches have something to offer for everyone. From premium fishing and boating to diving, swimming, jet skiing, parasailing, shelling, snorkeling, canoeing, sunning, picnicking, and volleyball playing.
Learn more about Don Pedro-, Palm-, Knight Island
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.
Learn more about Boca Grande the Capitol of Gasparilla Island
Gasparilla Island is another incredible place, where you can get lost while wandering on the seven pristine miles of sugar-white sandy beach or exploring the Back Bay during low tide. Tourism and fishing are the economic basis on this tranquil tropical seven-mile long island.
According to folklore, Gasparilla Island got its name from Jose Gaspar, a famous local pirate, who reportedly settled on the island in the 1700’s with his band of men. According to legend, Gaspar and his men used the island as a hiding place between forays until the United States carried out a campaign to rid the waters of their presence. Whether true or not, the legend adds to the colorful history of the island. And the story is interesting and beautiful, isn’t it?
Boca Grande deserves its name “the Tarpon Capital of the World.
This island is a seasonal host for many of the nation’s most prominent fishers, as well as some of the most prominent families in the country. They come to fish for tarpon in Boca Grande Pass, which separates Gasparilla and Cayo Costa islands.
Each spring these giant fish, also known as “silver kings” migrate into the deep water pass. From the southern tip of the island, where the State Park and the Lighthouse and Lighthouse Museum sit, you will see the hundreds of fishing boats fighting against the strong current of the pass, trying to get the biggest fish on board.
Residential opportunities on Gasparilla Island are numerous. They include maintenance-free condominiums, villas, town homes, single-family residences and large beach estates.