Gone Fishing

Boca Grande - “Tarpon Capital of the World.”

Boca Grande - “Tarpon Capital of the World.”

If Southwest Florida is the “paradise” we all love to brag about to our northern friends, then the Village of Boca Grande—on Gasparilla Island—is hands-down one of its most magical settings.   The enchantment one feels upon arriving there is immediate.  No sooner do you cross the bridge linking the mainland to the northern tip of the island than you realize you’ve discovered a place like few others in the Sunshine State.  Which is why this authentic slice of old Florida has long been a coveted refuge for celebrities, sportsmen, U.S. presidents; and such legendary business tycoons as Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Henry DuPont and Harvey Firestone.  Their privacy is respected in a place revered as much for its blue water and white beaches as for its world class fishing and boating.  Last March, in fact, Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal jointly named Gasparilla Island one of the “10 Best Places to Own Second Homes;” placing it in such illustrious company as The Hamptons, Palm Beach, Aspen, Pebble Beach and Maui.

Credit the island’s history of meticulous preservation for helping keep modern-day Boca Grande as unspoiled as these early American industrialists must have found it.  Noticeably free from overdevelopment—thanks in large part to the Gasparilla Conservation District Act of 1980—the island hasn’t a single high-rise, traffic light, strip mall or gas station.  Bike paths meander along its entire seven-mile length and the preferred method of motorized transport typically involves golf carts, some elaborately customized to resemble ‘57 Chevys.

Life on Gasparilla Island revolves around the sea and the myriad recreational opportunities that such a lifestyle affords.  Some of the best fishing in the world is right here; and fishermen from around the world descend on the island for a chance to reel-in the thousands of tarpon that school through Boca Grande Pass every spring; thus re-affirming its reputation as “Tarpon Capital of the World.”

Boating is another activity for which Gasparilla Island is world famous. Acclaimed by Sailing Magazine as one of the top ten sailing destinations in the United States, there are 120 square miles of cruising waters to the east, in Charlotte Harbor; and much more to the west, in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Intracoastal Waterway runs up and down the island’s interior coastline, weaving through lush mangrove islands that offer spectacular wildlife sightings and endless fishing, boating and kayaking opportunities.  Gasparilla Island State Park with its beautifully restored centerpiece—the Boca Grande Lighthouse, built in 1890—occupies the southern end of the island.

The pace and rhythms of village life in Boca Grande can’t be too far removed from how it must have been nearly a hundred years ago when the brand new Gasparilla Inn & Club was primping for its debut.  The renowned inn was built in 1913 as seasonal lodging for some of America’s most affluent travelers.  Over the past few years, the landmark inn and club has been restored to its previous luster while adding numerous modern-day amenities.

Nearby, downtown Boca Grande is a mélange of quaint shops, boutiques, galleries, gourmet food stores and restaurants, all neatly tucked into a few completely walk-able blocks.  Proud to take its place in the very heart of this historic district is the newest office of Michael Saunders & Company, which opens for business this week at 420 East Railroad Avenue.

As a home grown, family-owned real estate company, we are familiar faces on Gasparilla Island and have long been the most trusted name in luxury real estate throughout the region.  With 23 offices from Bradenton to Sarasota, Venice to Englewood and Punta Gorda to Burnt Store, we have no shortage of Gulf Coast sand in our shoes.

In a real estate market that has experienced a dearth of buyers over the past few years, the unparalleled reach of michaelsaunders.com—combined with the international brokerage connections we’ve assembled over nearly four decades—gives us the ability to showcase our listings to more qualified buyers throughout the region and around the world than any other real estate company in Southwest Florida.  These international affiliations include Christie’s International Real Estate, Luxury Portfolio International, The European Real Estate Network and Mayfair International Real Estate.

In other words, while you’re fishing the waters off Boca Grande your home is off fishing the world for its next buyer.

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