Palm Island, Florida

I shouldn't even tell you about Palm Island, Florida. It's one of the few islands left on the lower Gulf Coast where you can really get some quiet time and ignore the rest of the world.

Palm Island beach, Englewood, Florida.

For me, the most beautiful thing about the island is that there are very few cars here, and very few roads. There is no bridge to the island. You have to take a ferry to the island, which runs 7 days a week from 6:30 am to 10pm (11pm on Friday and Saturday). For about $55 cars can ride the ferry (Palm Island Transit), but only people who are living or vacationing on Palm Island actually take their cars. You see, there are no parking lots or stores or other businesses on the island, so if you don't have a driveway, there is no place to put a car. Visitors to the island either walk, ride a bike, or use a golf cart. 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.

There are several resorts on Palm Island, the most well known is Palm Island Resort which pretty much takes up the whole north end of the island.

 Take a video tour of the beach rental I stayed in at Palm Island Resort.

Palm Island beach bordering Stump Pass, Englewood, Florida.

This beach on Stump Pass is at the very northern tip of Palm Island. The beach is private and is only available to residents and guests of the Palm Island Resort. On the other side of the inlet you can see the Barefood Beach Preserve, accessed from Bonita Beach.

Thinking of buying or building a home on these islands? Because there is no road or bridge to the islands, all construction materials have to be brought over on the ferry. Building costs average around $240 to $340 per square foot. The lots aren't cheap either, even after the real estate crash of 2007/2008. But how can you put a price on paradise?

Palm Island is located about 9 miles south of Englewood, Florida, off the coast from Cape Haze.

Palm Island is actually not an accurate name for this archipelago (group of islands). It is made up of 4 interconnected islands as follows:

Thornton Key - an uninhabited mangrove island preserve with no beach.

Knight Island - home of the Palm Island Resort. It takes the name Palm Island. Because the Palm Island Resort is relatively well known, the publicity it gets overshadows the rest of the islands and the whole bunch of them just seem to fall under the catch-all name of "Palm Island." But it is technically and descriptively inaccurate. Note: Don't confuse this Palm Island Resort with "Little Palm Island Resort" on Little Torch Key down in the Florida Keys. They are two entirely different places.

Don Pedro Island - adjacent to and south of Knight Island. Private homes and vacation rentals. No stores, no restaurants. No high-rises or big resorts. No hotels. Includes Don Pedro Island State Park. You can drive or walk from Palm Island to Don Pedro Island.

Little Gasparilla Island - south of Don Pedro Island. This island is accessible only by boat. You cannot reach it from Palm Island or Don Pedro. Even though there is a physical sand road, it crosses private property that denies access to anyone but residents with a gate key. You can visit the island if you have a kayak or boat by pulling up to the beach anywhere you like. The south end of the island is popular with weekend boaters. No stores, restaurants, hotels or high-rises. No paved roads. No cars.

Grande Tours provides a passenger ferry to Don Pedro Island State Park. For $150 (price subject to change) they will ferry up to 6 people to the island and back by reservations only. Beginning in 2006 they tried to run a daily ferry but there just wasn't enough business to keep it running so it was discontinued, but you never know when someone will come along and try again!  In addition to the ferry, Grande Tours presents Eco-Tours, Kayaking, Fishing, Cruising Boca Grande, Florida and Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve, and offers wilderness camping. Be sure to call before you come, as their schedule is subject to change. 941-697-8825.

Palm Island Transit Ferry, Cape Haze, Florida.

The Palm Island Transit ferry provides transportation from the mainland to Palm Island and Don Pedro Island. It costs about $55 to take your car over to the island. Pedestrians and bicyclists can ride the ferry for around $10 or less. For the most part the only cars that come over on the ferry are those that belong to residents or resort guests. Otherwise there is just no place to park a car, since there are no stores or restaurants on the island. There are a couple of beach access points that have a few parking spots, but most people won't spend $55 just to spend a few hours at the beach.

Golf carts are the main transportation on Palm Island, Florida.

Golf carts are the main mode of transportation on Palm Island, Don Pedro Island and Littlel Gasparilla Island. There are a few cars seen on the roads, but not many. Summer and fall are especially quiet.

Don Pedro Island beach, Florida.

Don Pedro Island is between Knight Island and Little Gasparilla. It has quite a few vacation rentals and is also home to Don Pedro Island State Park (boat access only).

Little Gasparilla Island beach, Placida, Florida.

Little Gasparilla Island is the most southern island in the Palm Island archipelago. It is boat access only. The only vehicles on the island other than scooters, golf carts and bicycles are service trucks and the occasional construction vehicle. Oh, and they do have a small fire truck for their fire department..

Beachhunter relaxing in Don Pedro Island beach house.

Beachhunter relaxing on a beach house porch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on Don Pedro Island.

Sunrise on Don Pedro Island from beachhouse deck.

The first rays of sunlight illuminating the Gulf beach as viewed from my Don Pedro beach house deck.

Copyright: David McRee,