Don Pedro Island offers a truly unique getaway to the unconventional traveler. It is an island of shell roads, quiet beaches, and homes that are as unique and varied as their owners. Part of the island comprises Don Pedro Island State Park and is completely undeveloped.
The island lacks hotels, restaurants and resorts. What it offers is quiet, crime-free tranquility. It is possible to visit Don Pedro Island without staying on the island, but it isn't necessarily easy unless you have a boat.
Where is Don Pedro Island?
Don Pedro is part of a group of islands south of Sarasota often referred to as Palm Island. To get there you have to drive south of Englewood down the Cape Haze peninsula to a town called Placida. There is no bridge to the island, so you'll need a boat to get there. A car ferry run by the Palm Island Transit Company will get you over to the island. It is located off Placida Road at the end of Panama Blvd.
Note: Palm Island Transit runs a water taxi between Leverocks Restaurant and the Palm Island resort so the public can eat at their restaurants. However, beach equipment (chairs, umbrellas, coolers, etc) is not allowed on the water taxi and Palm Island Transit wants you to understand that Palm Island Resort beaches are private and for resort guests only.
To visit for the day, you can come over on the car ferry. If you want to bring your car, it will cost you $50 or more. I recommend that you simply bring your bike over on the ferry (about $7-$10) and ride a few blocks to the beach where you'll find several public accesses (no restroom facilities unless you walk 30 minutes to Don Pedro Island State Park).
Grande Tours in Placida offers passenger ferry service (no cars) to Don Pedro Island State Park by reservation. As of this writing, they offer to take up to 6 people to the island and back for $150. Split 6 ways that's not too bad. Don't depend on that price though, call them to find out what they can offer you.
The best way to enjoy Don Pedro Island beaches is to rent a house on the island. Bob and Robin Madden of Islander Properties handle vacation rentals and management, real estate sales, and custom home building on the island.
Staying on Don Pedro Island is like going back in time, leaving all the noise and traffic and stress behind, but still being able to enjoy modern conveniences like air conditioning, refrigeration, and telephones. This is a slice of the best parts of life on Florida's barrier islands was like back in the 1920's.
Dogs are not technically allowed on the beaches but well-behaved dogs on a leash are generally tolerated. Many of the rental units are pet-friendly.
At present, the island is about 50% built out. Building costs may run as high as $240 to $340 per square foot, but since the market crash in 08/09 there are some deals to be had. There are about 250 full-time residents on Don Pedro Island. Homes have septic tanks and get their water from 3 desalination plants on-island. Summers are very quiet.