Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa, and Useppa Islands - These beautiful Southwest Florida Islands are a short boat trip away from Cape Coral!
I had the good fortune to go on a boat tour with friends around these outer barrier islands.
I'd been wanting to do this ever since I moved to the Cape in 2006 ........ and I do love a boat ride.
Each island is totally different from the others and you'll want to explore each one! The best way to access them is from marinas or tour boats on Pine Island or Captiva. Cayo Costa is between North Captiva and Boca Grande ...... Cabbage Key and Useppa are between Pine Island and Cayo Costa. met up with my friends for our charter at Pineland Marina on the northern end of Pine Island.
We first toured around the waters between Pine Island and headed north to Boca Grande, also known as Big Gasparilla island. By land, you get to Boca Grande north of Cape Coral by way of Port Charlotte, past Rotonda, through Placida, and over a toll bridge.
Since we didn't have a reservation, we cruised by Useppa, an island with limited access. You need to be a member of the exclusive island community or get there by allowed tour boats from Captiva. Tours are usually twice/day for 2 hours in the afternoon. I hope to do that sometime in the future!
Throughout our trip, we got to see dolphins ........ and I think I even saw a manatee!
You may also some old fishing shacks out in the middle of the water. In Florida, you are no longer allowed to build them anymore, and the ones that are left are mostly privately owned.
Our tour guide then showed us Little Bokeelia Island, a private island that sold several years ago for $23M. We could see that it had a mansion, mini golf course, and tennis courts ............ aaaaaah, the life of luxury.
Next, we parked our boat off of Cayo Costa and took a swim, relaxed, and did some shell hunting.
Cayo Costa is a State Park with hiking and biking trails, primitive cabins, and tent camping. You can make reservations to stay through Reserve America. There is also an amphitheater with programs about the island's history and ecology.
We ended our trip with lunch at Cabbage Key ..... home of the supposed "Cheeseburger in Paradise" sung by Jimmy Buffet.
The island boasts a resort with restaurant, cabins, gift shop, walking trails, and the famous gopher tortoises named after the Ninja Turtles.
The turtles were nowhere to be found when we went, but I've been told that they do come out of their holes and scoot around the island.
Take a hike ..... climb up the tower ....... you may even want to rent one of the island's cottages.
The Cabbage Key Resort restaurant was packed even though it was off-season! Dollar bills adorn the walls and ceilings of the dining rooms.
I ordered the famous cheeseburger, served with potato salad, or you can get coleslaw with it instead ......... totally awesome delicious!
I also had the Frozen Key Lime Pie for dessert ...... totally refreshing, especially since it was so hot that day.
After stuffing ourselves, it was time to head home for a shower or a jump in the pool .......... and a nap!
Sign up for my newsletter Gator Bites to receive my free ebook, Weird Cape Coral to read a story about how the islands of Useppa, Captiva, and Sanibel got their names.
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