Boca Grande Lighthouse was built in December of 1890, and is the oldest structure on Gasparilla Island. The lighthouse served as a home for the lighthouse keeper and his family, and the building next to it, which is pretty much a twin of the lighthouse, was where the assistant lighthouse keeper lived. The lighthouse keeper would attend to the light during the day, until midnight, and then the assistant would step in after that time to take over until morning.
In 1966, the Boca Grande Lighthouse had it’s Fresnel Lens removed, and used it was then used in the Gasparilla Lighthouse, which is just a few miles down the road. That’s when Boca Grande Lighthouse sat for approximately 20 years in the dark, while the area was only used for picnics and family gatherings.
Within 4 years after the lighthouse had it’s Fresnel Lens removed, it started to fall into ruins. With beach erosion occurring, the lighthouse almost fell into the sea. Then, in 1971, 35,000 cubic yards of sand was brought in, and an attempt was made to save the lighthouse by dumping it around the lighthouse.
In 1972, the government handed the lighthouse over to Lee County, and left it up to them to do what they wanted with it. In 1980, the local residents stepped in, and took up a cause to restore the lighthouse, with the help from the state of Florida. It was then placed in the National Register of Historical Places. In 1985 – 86, the buildings were restored, a 377 mm drum lens was installed, and the lighthouse was put back into service as an active aid to navigation once again.,
On August 13th, 2004, the Lighthouse took a large hit by Hurricane Charley. Windows in the lighthouse were broken out, some trim areas around the upper portion of the lighthouse came off, and some damage was done to the inside due to the winds. The lighthouse was boarded up for a few months, and was repaired, and now back, looking like new again.
A few notes:
The Boca Grande Lighthouse is open to the public and you can go inside and see the artifacts, and walk around the gift shop.
Bring your camera because you can get some really beautiful photos here. The lighthouse sits right off the beach coast line.
Nice place to sunbathe, however, swimming is not allowed in this area during the strong current, however, if you drive up the street just a mile or so, there are several beach areas where swimming is allowed.
Bring a picnic lunch, because there are pavilion areas with picnic tables.
There are restrooms, and a place for you to spray off your feet if they get sandy.
Seashells can be found by the abundance here, so bring baggies for your collection. (Note: shells that have little creatures in them are to be left alone).
Overall, this park is a nice place to bring the family and spend the day in the beautiful Florida sun.Fishing is something you always find people doing here, so bring your rod.
To visit the lighthouse, take I-75 to exit 32. Go south on 776 and continue south on 771 towards Gasparilla Island. At the southern tip of the Island, there is a parking lot. You can walk to the lighthouse from where you park.