If y’all have been following my blog for a while now, then you know my love for Boca Grande, which is a small town on Gasparilla Island off the gulf coast of Florida. You can see some of my other posts about it here and here. My parents live about five minutes away, which means I can visit it often! On my last trip there, I was fortunate enough to partner with Lady Grey Charters who let me experience Boca Grande, unlike any way I had before!
I am very familiar with things to do ON the island, but one of the unique things about this area, in particular, are all the small islands that surround it. Many of these places, you can only get to by boat. This is where Lady Boat Charters was able to give us the ultimate off-island tour!
A piece of advice though, always go with a captain that knows the local waters and the rules of the islands. I could not have asked for a better guide than Captian Roger Chapin. He is a native Floridian and has been exploring the Boca Grande waters for over 40 years. That alone gave me confidence about the day, but he proceeded to blow me away with his knowledge of the history of each of the islands. Fun fact, I LOVE history. I find it incredibly interesting and I love learning new information about each of the places I visit. This was an added bonus that I wasn’t expecting and made the trip more spectacular.
We had about a three-hour round trip and visited two different islands, including going home through the Boca Grande Pass, but Captain Rogers has over 6 destinations that you can decide on!
Useppa Island & Collier Inn
Our first stop was Useppa Island. This island has such an amazing history and the natural beauty is breathtaking. Side note: all of the pictures I took were from an iphone, and I did not add any filters to these pictures. the only editing I did was bumping up the exposure aka making the picture brighter. The colors are real, and the water really is that pretty. We chose the perfect day with clear blue skies which made the beauty of the island so much more vivid.
Useppa is home to a private island club and the Collier Inn. You must be a member of Useppa to even step onto the island, which again is why you must travel with an experienced captain. While the island does host a few residents, most people stay for an extended vacation or swing by for lunch at one of the four restaurants.
I have mentioned the beauty of this island already, but the natural preservation of the island is spectacular. Walkways are lined with banyan trees, which you can see in the picture above. Some of the trees even have orchids growing out of them! This island is one of the few places that you can find night-blooming cereus, which is a flower that blooms once a year on a single night.
One of the main attractions is the Collier Inn, which was built in the early 1900’s. The inn is stunning, quaint and exactly how island life should be. It hosts 3 out of 4 of the restaurants, a beautiful pool, and the most charming little library. The views look out into paradise. Also if you get the chance, see the women’s bathroom inside the main part of the inn. I know that’s a weird request, but I could not get enough of the seahorse wallpaper and shell mirrors.
After an afternoon drink at the Tarpon Bar, we were ready for our next adventure!
The second stop was to Cayo Costa state park. There are over 9 miles of completely untouched, beach and one of the best places to find seashells. Once again, you can only get there by boat. It provided the perfect place to have a picnic lunch and bask in the Florida sun.
You can camp overnight at one of the designated campgrounds on the island and there is a ton of great beach fishing. I was in seashell heaven! Finding seashells is one of my favorite hobbies but my real expertise is shark teeth 🙂 I have a huge collection of shark teeth that I have found over the years and I love to add to it!
Boca Grande Pass
We had a few options for routes to get home, but I wanted to go through the Boca Grande Pass. The Boca Grande Pass is one of the deepest natural passes in Florida. It is over 80 feet deep and one of the biggest tarpon fishing spots in the world. You can see the Boca Grande Lighthouse, which I thought was great since I had only seen the lighthouse on land by visiting the Gasparilla State Park. Once again, there is a ton of history about The Pass as well, and which I found intriguing. Plus it’s beautiful with the deep blue water!
We made our way home and a few dolphins even greeted us as we made our way back to the Boca Grande Marina! It was a different and exciting way to experience Boca Grande and I highly recommend it! If you follow me on Instagram, I have an entire highlight dedicated to Boca Grande and this trip in particular. You can follow Lady Grey Charters as well and if you are interested in other things dedicated to this area, Experience Boca Grande run by Roger Chapin himself is great!
I am planning on doing a full Boca Grande Travel Guide! You can subscribe to all of my blog here, so you never miss a post!
All My Love,