Friday, March 17, 2006

New Ferry Tour to Don Pedro Island State Park

There aren't many islands left in Florida that can't be reached by car. But Little Gasparilla (also known as Palm Island)is one of those islands. Actually it is an interconnected group of four islands, Knight Island, Thornton Key, Don Pedro Island, and Little Gasparilla Island. It's relative remoteness creates seven miles of nearly deserted beaches.

The beaches are wide and flat and seem to go on forever. The sand is light brown. There are no parking lots, no lifeguard towers, no snack bars, piers or jetties. But there is a lot of peace and quiet.

Little Gasparilla is so close to the mainland you could almost throw a rock across from one shore to the other, yet there is no bridge, so you need a boat. Until recently, you either needed your own boat, or you had to make use of the Palm Island Transit Car Ferry Sevice. The ferry is nearly as long as the crossing it makes. It's the only way to get cars onto the island for the few residents that have homes there. There are few roads on the islands and there is no where to park unless you live there and have a driveway. The problem has been that once the car ferry drops you off, it's at least a 45 minute walk or more to Don Pedro Island State Park, which is located about mid-island.

Now a new ferry service is serving Don Pedro Island State Park. Grande Tours of Placida has started a ferry service to the park and leaves the dock at 10am on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, returning at 2:30pm. That's a fairly short day, but it's a good start. Grande Tours also rents kayaks, so that is another option. The cost of the trip is $18 per person, which also includes the park entrance fee.

To see photos and read more about Palm Island and Don Pedro Island State Park, visit my website at

To find out more information about Grande Tours and their ferry, visit their website at

Read an article from the Ft. Myers News-Press about Betsy Clayton's trip to Don Pedro on the ferry.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Just Another Perfect Day on Siesta Key, Florida

I've learned, after living in Florida for 45 years, that in late winter and early spring, if I really want to see some beautiful water and take a long, long walk on the beach, I need to go to Siesta Key. That's just what I've been doing during this perfect March beach weather we've been having. Thursday, March 9, I walked for 6 or 7 miles Siesta Beach and covered a lot of ground. The water was beautiful and the sand was so white it was almost blinding. The water temperatures are still a bit below 70 degrees, so there weren't many swimmers, but give it a few more weeks with this warm weather and it will quickly warm up. For a native like me, 80 degree water is preferable, and 95 degrees is PERFECT. But most people seem to prefer the 75 to 85 degree range.

siesta beach photo.jpg

Siesta Beach, north of Point-of-Rocks, has the whitest and most powdery sand you'll find anywhere in Florida. But down near the water, where the sand is damp, it is firm enough to ride your bike or even push a baby stroller. And of course it is perfect for walking or jogging long distances, because you are not on a steep incline like you would be on many beaches.

Every beach in Florida has something to offer, but for the whitest sand, the widest beaches, and the warmest, clearest water, Siesta Key is tops.

See you on the beach!