Don Pedro Island Beaches

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.

A quiet beach on Don Pedro Island, Florida

Quiet afternoon on a Don Pedro Island Beach.

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.

Palm Island Transit ferry to Don Pedro and Palm Island, Florida

Here the Palm Island Transit ferry is about to dock on Don Pedro Island.

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.

Beach house for rent on Don Pedro Island. Islander Properties.

Here is the beach house I stayed in (above) on Don Pedro Island. It is offered through Islander Properties and is called the "Beach Lover." It's right on the Gulf, just steps from the water's edge.

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.

Be sure to check out neighboring islands Palm Island and Little Gasparilla Island.

Don Pedro Island Gulf front beach houses.

There are plenty of vacation properties available for rent on Don Pedro. Lots of them are right on the beach. You can walk down to Don Pedro Island State Park in about 30 minutes or so.

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.

Water's edge on Don Pedro Island.

On Don Pedro, there is a slight drop-off about one foot deep at the edge of the water in many places. It is here where you'll find the most shells, fossils and shark's teeth.

A sample of sand, shell and fossils from Don Pedro Island beach.

At water's edge I scooped up this assortment of sand, shell, rocks and fossils by hand. Lots of interesting stuff to sift through. Definitely some shark teeth in here.

Typical shell road on Don Pedro Island.

Above is a typical street on Don Pedro Island. Cars are infrequent. More likely you'll find people traveling in golf carts. It is very quiet and dark at night. If you like to look at the stars, you'll see plenty here, and you'll get a really good look at the Milky Way.

This is the beach at Don Pedro Island State Park.

Above is the beach at Don Pedro Island State Park. This part of the island is completely undeveloped. The only visitors you'll see here come by boat, or by walking along the beach. You can walk all the way to Little Gasparilla Island if you like.

Don Pedro Island State park amenities.

This is the picnic facilities at Don Pedro Island State Park. There is a large covered area with lots of tables, a few BBQ grills, trash cans, outdoor rinse-off showers, and restrooms. Kayaks approaching from the bay side can leave their yaks on a specially built rack near the dock. There's no shade here except for the picnic shelter.

Copyright: David McRee,