1. How do we get to the island?
There is one water taxi that services the island; he runs every day during daylight hours but will run later with a reservation. It is best to contact him several days in advance, especially if you need to travel very early, after dark or on a holiday. Average cost for the water taxi is $10.00 per person but be sure to verify this as prices sometimes change depending on the time of day you need to cross the bay…after dark costs extra. There is also a minimum trip charge of $20. PLEASE try to arrive before dark!
Phone number for Pirate's Water Taxi is 941-697-5777.
2. What is the beach like? Is it Private? How do we get to the beach?
The beach is perfect for swimming. There are no steep drop-offs when you enter the water from the shore. The bottom is pure white sand and there is usually a sand bar 10-20 yards offshore which keeps the waves to a minimum. The water is usually quite clear. During storms there may be a rip current, so supervision of small children is always recommended.
The beach itself is not private, but the difficulty of reaching the island without a boat or water taxi means that there are often very few people on the beach. Beach access for all homes is a sandy pathway. Even homes located on the Bay or inland have easy access to the beach. Since the island is only about 100 yards wide in many spots, it is never more than a 3-4 minute walk to the beach.
3. Does the beach ever become unsafe for swimming? What about hurricanes?
The beach on Little Gasparilla Island is generally considered to be a calm, family-friendly beach year-round. There are very rare periods of larger waves or higher winds but even during storms, the surf is generally quite mild. There are no lifeguards on Little Gasparilla so little ones will always need supervision on the beach.
Hurricanes simply cannot be predicted. However, the island has NEVER had a direct hit and even during the severe storms of 2004 and 2005, we had minimal damage. In the event of a mandatory evacuation, you may be asked by authorities to leave the island. Keep in mind that most houses sit 8-15 feet above the dunes so storm surge is a minimal threat.
4. Can we buy groceries on the island?
No. There are no commercial establishments on the island. All groceries need to be purchased on your way to the marina and brought over with you on the water taxi. We suggest that our guests buy the majority of their groceries just prior to arrival at the marina, to limit the necessity of making additional water taxi trips. Be sure to ask for a "boat pack" (paper inside plastic) to make groceries easier to handle on the water taxi. We do have a grocery delivery service that may be able to purchase groceries for you during your stay OR to stock your cottage for you prior to your arrival. GIve us a call for more information on this service.
5. Where do we park?
You will park your vehicle at Eldred's Marina. Their address is 6301 Boca Grande Causeway, Placida, FL 33946. Parking is $6 a day. Please pay for your parking and place your parking pass in your vehicle's windshield before catching the water taxi to the island. If you arrive after dark and the marina is closed, please contact them the next day at 941-697-1431 and make arrangements to pay for your parking. This is where you catch the water taxi and your vehicle should be safe while left in the parking lot. If you are staying at one of the condos at Hideaway Bay, you have free parking at their mainland lot.
6. Where can we rent a boat?
There are several nearby boat rental agencies which will rent hourly, daily or for a week. Names and phone numbers are provided in the information package once you book. For quotes, check out their websites:
Bay Breeze Boat Rentals Manatee River Boat Rentals Island Boat Rentals
Gasparilla Marina Barrier Island Boat Rentals
7. How do we get in the house? And how far is it from the dock to the house?
Your vacation rental will most likely be left unlocked for you...our housekeeper will come to the house immediately prior to your arrival and will leave the house open. If it is locked, lock box information is provided in your Arrival Letter sent out via email roughly two weeks to 10 days prior to your arrival. IF you call our concierge and let him know your water taxi time, he will meet you at the dock and help transport luggage and groceries to the house for you. Generally, it is not necessary to lock the house during your stay. The island is very safe.
The island is only about 100-200 yards wide in most spots....so even if you choose not to use the concierge, it is never more than a 3-4 minute walk from the dock to the beach. However, we DO suggest you call him just to make sure you find the right house!
8. How private is the island?
There are other houses on the island so you do not have complete privacy. We are fortunate to live on a part of the island that is lower in density than the south end of the island…there are no condos near most of our vacation homes, and any crowds on the beach are generally on the south end of the island OR at the Don Pedro State Park. Depending on the time of year you visit, we can sometimes walk for hours on the beach without seeing another person. Holiday weekends are generally quite busy, since many of the island homes are owned by Florida residents who visit on the weekends. But, because there is no bridge to the island, traffic and large crowds of tourists are virtually nonexistent.
9. Where's the closest airport?
Sarasota Airport is just over an hour to the north; Ft. Myers (SW Florida Regional Airport) is about 1-1/4 hours to the south. There are also small airports in Venice (45 minutes) and a grass strip in Englewood. If you are lucky enough to be located near an airport served by Allegiant, check out flights into Punta Gorda, which is only about 45 minutes from the marina. Tampa is one hour and 45 minutes north.
10. Do you allow dogs?
YES, Little Gasparilla Island is very dog friendly, and since there are rarely-enforced leash laws, there are often many dogs on the beach swimming, chasing birds, digging in the sand and chasing frisbees. Because of this freedom, aggressive dogs are generally not tolerated unless they are restrained. We also request that any pets staying at our rentals must be on preventative flea control, and that you properly dispose of pet waste on the beach around the outside of the house. Most of our vacation rental owners charge a $100 non-refundable pet fee to help cover additional cleaning costs for furry friends. Most of our cottages are pet friendly but be sure to check before you bring a pet because some cottages do not allow pets, some require a pet fee and in all cases we MUST be notified in advance before you bring a pet.
11. Is the kitchen fully stocked/what will be provided during our stay?
All kitchens include refrigerator, electric range, microwave, coffee maker, blender, and all basic kitchen utensils.You will also find all necessary cookware, bakeware, and all dishes. Each house also has a washer and dryer and a grill for cooking outdoors. Some grills are charcoal, some are gas and some are electric. When you book, we will provide you information on the type of grill in your cottage. Most houses have an outdoor, after-swim shower for rinsing off salt water and sand. Most homes also offer a varied selection of pantry items such as saran, foil, paper towels, napkins, coffee filters and assorted spices. The house cleaners have also been instructed to leave condiments in the refrigerator during the months of high usage. Some people like to have pickles, mustard, ketchup and other condiments left for them. (If you are offended by an opened jar of pickles, please feel free to throw it away.) Since there are no grocery stores on the island, sometimes it is helpful to have additional supplies in the house. Think of it as staying at a friend's home and having access to their refrigerator and pantry. If there is something you absolutely cannot do without, you should plan to bring it with you. Otherwise, you are welcome to use whatever is available in the house.
12. Are linens provided?
Yes, all linens are provided, including beach towels.
13. If this is a barrier island, with no roads and bridges, what is there to do? Will my kids get bored?
There are numerous outdoor activities to satisfy the most energetic guest. There is excellent fishing from the dock or the beach; nearby Placida and Boca Grande offer numerous charters for deep-sea fishing, tarpon fishing or flats fishing. There are kayak and jet-ski rentals nearby, and shelling trips or luncheon trips to Cabbage Key. There is golf on the mainland with several courses to choose from. There is snorkeling and swimming, plus wind-surfing, boogie boarding or tubing. The island is also known for its many shell varieties and large number of shark's teeth, and many people walk the beach every day to add to their shell collections. Some people bring bicycles over on the water taxi and ride the length of the island. (But, the sand pathways are very soft so riding is best on the beach, where the sand is packed harder.) You can also explore the island on a golf cart (rentals available on the island), watch eagles and osprey nest, swim with the dolphins and watch massive sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand on balmy summer evenings. You can often spot manatees at the dock or off the beach. For rainy afternoons, there is an island library with books and tapes. Many of our homes also offer movies and books, puzzles and games.
14. Is there a perfect guest for Little Gasparilla Island? Who might be unhappy on the island?
The perfect guests are those looking for a relaxed vacation, in a well-appointed, comfortable home with beautiful surroundings and peace and privacy. Visitors looking for lots of nightlife or those who prefer to eat every meal in a restaurant and don't want to cook on vacation would probably be happier on the mainland. If you are looking for a resort experience, keep in mind that Little Gasparilla is much more rustic.
15. What happens if something breaks or there are other problems that need attention during our stay?
Our housekeeper and our Guest Services Manager lives on-island and can usually be reached via cell phone. We also have an on-island handyman and we can often take care of minor problems within a few hours. We live just 15 minutes from the marina, but we do need to get our boat out of storage to come to the island. We will do our best to get problems taken care of as quickly as possible. But, due to the nature of island living, instant repairs are not always possible. AC repairmen, electricians, etc. have to come over on the water taxi just like everyone else. Please be aware that during summer thunderstorms or periods of high winds, it is not unusual to lose power on the entire island for a few hours. So be forewarned that repairs ALWAYS take longer on the island! A "go with the flow" mentality is essential to deal with repairs on the island.
16. Do we need a fishing license?
As a rule, if you are fishing from the dock or the beach Florida residents do not need a license, but out-of-state guests do. For more specific details on requirements and fees, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife website. As you may know, Boca Grande is known as the Tarpon Capital of the World....during the warmer months, from April until almost August, the "silver king" offers fishermen one of the greatest thrills -- and challenges -- possible. If you are interested in tarpon fishing, contact the Boca Grande Fishing Guides and have them match you with a captain who can best meet your needs, skill level, etc. Their e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
17. Are your rental homes handicap accessible?
Unfortunately, due to building restrictions on the island, all newer homes are built on pilings, with at least one flight of steps up to the house, and the homes do not have elevators. Our concierge is available to help carry groceries and luggage up the steps for our guests, so those with limited mobility may be able to enjoy the island, but our homes are not wheelchair-accessible. We have a few cottages with fewer steps that are closer to the ground, so if access is an issue, please let us know and we will recommend cottages that are easiest to access.
18. Where can we get fresh fish?
There is an excellent fish market in Gulf Cove just a few minutes from Publix. ) There are also several cute shops in Placida with cute, beachy souvenirs including the Margaret Allbritton Gallery and Hatch Gallery. http://www.placidafishmarket.com
19. Can we rent kayaks or paddle boards on the island?
Currently there are no kayak rentals on the island itself. However, you can rent single or tandem kayaks or stand up paddle boards from the Cape Haze Marina and they will deliver them to our dock for you with a 2-day minimum rental. Their website is www.hookedonsup.com. A new company called Glass Bottom Rentals is also offering kayak rentals on the mainland.
20. Can we rent a golf cart on the island?
Golf carts can be rented from Little Gasparilla Island Carts at 941-697-3820. It is best to make a reservation well in advance, especially if you will be on the island during a holiday. (Please note that a few of our owners provide golf carts with their rentals. But these golf carts are provided as a courtesy only and the owners will not provide a replacement cart if theirs is not working or if you break it during your stay. If the use of a golf cart is very important to you, we suggest you reserve a rental cart to ensure that one will be available for you.)
21. What do we need to bring with us?
Please try to pack light! People ALWAYS bring too many clothes to the island! During the summer months, flip flops, a few tee shirts, a couple pairs of shorts, a couple swimsuits, a hat and a cover up should be sufficient. If you like to jog on the beach, bring your running shoes. And if you are coming in the winter, add some long pants or sweat pants and a sweat shirt or lightweight rain jacket. Almost all restaurants in the area are casual so you won't need "good" clothes unless you plan to dine in Boca Grande. (A couple places there actually require jackets!) Be sure to bring any prescription medications you might need as well as over the counter medications and sunscreen because there are no drug stores on the island. Bug spray is also helpful. It can also be helpful to bring allergy medication, children's Tylenol, fever reducer, etc. If you are sensitive to sand gnats (also known as midges or noseeums) Avon Skin-So-Soft is an excellent repellant.
22. What if there is an emergency? We have 911 service on Little Gasparilla and there are actually first responders, a fire department and paramedics on the island 24/7. There is a non-emergency number on the island that you can also call if you have non-emergency questions about allergies, rashes, bee stings and other minor issues while on the island. There is a hospital nearby in Englewood just 10 minutes from the marina and if there is a serious emergency they will arrange evacuation from the island.
23. Do I need to bring drinking water?
NO....island water is safe and drinkable...all of our homes are now either connected to municipal water OR have expensive reverse osmosis water systems. You do not need to bring drinking water to the island with you.
24. What about wi-fi?
There is no wired internet service anywhere on Little Gasparilla Island. Please do not come to the island expecting unlimited data or the internet service that you have on the mainland. Many homes DO offer internet service but it should not be used for entertainment purposes. No Netflix, no Skyping, no streaming videos or music. You can use wi-fi for checking email or Facebook and it is more than adequate for many purposes but you should NOT immediately plan on hooking up all cell phones to the house wi-fi and you should be cognizant of data usage. Some cottages have Verizon jetpacks with pay-as-you-go data plans which require you to purchase data. You may purchase as much data as you want or need but be aware that it is expensive and you must monitor the data usage of those in your group. Many guests use their smartphones to create a mobile hotspot of their own, which may be more reliable and less expensive than the Verizon jetpacks. Some of our cottages do NOT come with wi-fi at all, so if you need access to wi-fi, be sure to specify that when you book so that we can steer you to a cottage that comes with access to wi-fi. But it is important to clarify that even with wi-fi, it will not be the wi-fi you are used to on the mainland. We tell most guests that wi-fi on the island is similar to wi-fi on a cruise: spotty, slow and expensive.
25. What else should we know about Little Gasparilla Island?
We do not want you to be disappointed or unhappy with any aspect of your vacation on Little Gasparilla Island and we welcome any additional questions you might have. When you visit our rental homes, we are welcoming you into a private residence. Our homes are not "rental units"....they are rustic family homes that are also loved and enjoyed by the owners during the year. As such, you will find personal possessions, family photos, shell collections and other mementos in these homes. In addition, those of us who live on the island tend to use appliances until they die. Because of the difficulty of removing major appliances from the island, we do not "upgrade" appliances on a whim. We accept minor rust spots as par for the course on a tropical island. If you are expecting "brand new" or "totally modern and upgraded" many of the cottages on the island would not fit your criteria. This is a rustic old-Florida environment. As long-time island residents ourselves, we are trusting that you will respect and care for each home and embrace the "go-with-the-flow" spirit of the island. We ask that you follow the guest policies that have been agreed to and be responsible guests.We want all of our guests to enjoy the island as much as we do, to respect our beautiful natural environment, and we want you to have a wonderful vacation!
Don't hesitate to e-mail us if you have any additional questions, at email@example.com
(Fishing boats docked for the evening in Placida)