Blog, Family

Little Gasparilla Island {FL} … 2015

February 11, 2015
Family-Beach-Picture-4-700-feat

25 hours … in a minivan … with three kids under the age of five … and one dog … ONE WAY {that’s 50 hours total for you math folks}.

To an island only accessible by water taxi … with no restaurants … no grocery stores … no stores whatsoever …

And everything you bring in … comes back out with you (on that water taxi).  Including such things as diapers, dog poop, and old food.

ARE WE CRAZY?!?!

Well, we survived, and I’m here to tell you that it was totally, completely WORTH IT!!  

Here’s why:

Little Gasparilla Island Florida Vacation | View From The Fridge

Paradise!

and …

Little Gasparilla Island Florida Vacation | View From The Fridge

and

Little Gasparilla Island Florida Vacation | View From The Fridge

 

And because we come from Minnesota (aka The Frozen Tundra), the warm weather, the gorgeous water and beaches, and the palm trees were worth a couple days of ‘togetherness’ in the minivan.

Let me start from the begining:

  • We wanted to go somewhere warm for two weeks … warm enough to wear shorts, tank tops, and swimsuits
  • We wanted to be able to drive and bring Molly.
  • We wanted a relaxing vacation
  • We DIDN’T want to spend a fortune

Oh, and …

  • We waited until the last minute to search for this ‘theoretical’ place.

But guess what?!?  I stumbled upon this on VRBO:

  • A brand new listing for a two bedroom, dog friendly house on an island only accessible by boat … on the beach!  In Southern Florida, Gulf side.  Available for two weeks in Jan/Feb.  And affordable.

I WAS SOLD!!

I hadn’t completely thought through all the logistics, but we decided to give it a whirl.  We’re adventurous like that (ha!).

As time got closer, and I did some more research (this was all after we already booked and paid for the place).  Well, I got a bit more … nervous.

You mean we haul ALL our groceries (including drinking water), our clothes, toys and entertainment for three kids and a dog, out of the van, onto a boat, off onto a dock, then call a golf cart to haul it all across the island to our house on the beach???

What did I get us into?

BUT … it worked better than I ever could have imagined.  Except that I ran out of wine.  That wasn’t great planning.

Here’s a quick view of where we were headed:

Little-Gasparilla-Island-Overview

Basically, Little Gasparilla Island is the southern end of a longer island.  It’s connected to Don Pedro Island through Don Pedro State Park, but there are no roads or vehicles allowed here.  The only way onto Little Gasparilla is by boat.  It’s about 2-3 miles long (North to South) and very narrow.  It’s just off the coast of Placida, FL and very near Boca Grande Island (you can easily see onto Boca Grande from the southern tip of Little Gasparilla.

So … let me break down our trip for you in pictures (and, sorry … there are A LOT of pictures):

Car Rid There … 25 hours on the road and two nights:

I packed plenty of snacks, activities, movies, and books (and spend most of my time distributing these items), but occasionally this happened …

This happened ... for maybe 30 minutes!

This happened … for maybe 30 minutes!

All four (Molly included) asleep … AT THE SAME TIME!!!

Ben spent his first night in a hotel in Paducah, KY (with food still all over his face):

fl-ben-hotel

One more FULL day on the road and the second night spent in Lake City, FL, and we could finally feel the warmth!!

The third day was much shorter and easier, and we arrived in Placida, FL in plenty of time for our 4:30pm water taxi appointment.

We planned out about 8 days worth of food and purchased this and water at a local grocery store.  That included 8 dozen eggs.  The checkout lady thought we were crazy.  We like eggs.

We arrived at Eldrid’s Marina, the place where we picked up Pirate’s Water Taxi, and unloaded the van.  Oh My Gosh!!  We literally had a boat full of stuff!

Here is a close up view of the water taxi route to the island:

little-gasparilla-island-close-up

It had stormed all morning, and the water in the bay was rough.  And the boat wasn’t as big as I was imagining.  At this point, I was very thankful I had packed lifejackets for all three boys.  We strapped ’em on … jumped in the boat, and headed across to the island!

fl-boat-ride-1

{Okay … the water doesn’t look choppy behind us, but I promise it was out a bit further}

We reached the island in about 15 minutes, and unloaded our stuff onto the dock.  We had arranged for the unofficial ‘Island Concierge’ to meet us at the dock with his golf cart to help us haul our stuff across the island (which really wasn’t that far, but with three kids, a dog, and a van full of stuff … his golf cart was a lifesaver)!  His name is Bret, and if you ever visit … look him up!

We finally arrived at our rental, and immediately headed to check out the beach:

florida-day1

Side note:  we learned that the ocean was not always this rough.  Most of our days there were barely any waves ….

And enjoyed our first sunset on the Gulf:

First_Sunset

Here are some better views of the house we rented (and here’s a link to the VRBO listing):

Inside:  Nothing fancy … two bedrooms and one bath to the right, TV/living room to the left … and that’s it!  You could tell the cottage had been recently renovated, and most of the finishings were very nice.  But again … nothing fancy at all.

fl-condo

Deck area (between the house and the beach):

The outside deck area

The outside deck area

Looking from the house to the beach:

fl-deck-beach-pool

And the gorgeous beach just through that opening:

Beach_Baby1

It felt like we basically had our own private beach (and pretty much private island):

Florida-BeachBoys

Boys_Running_1

The Beach!

We love the ocean!!

Charlie_onLog

headstand_1

And Molly was in heaven here …

molly_beach

It is a very dog friendly island (because there are no cars), so there are many dogs out running about freely (even though I don’t think it’s technically legal).  Molly made lots of dog friends (and some human ones, too).

Our days pretty much consisted of this routine:

Wake up and eat breakfast.

Go for a long, leisurely walk on the beach while looking for shells.  This also doubled as Ben’s nap time in the Baby Bjorn:

Shelling

Eat some lunch down on the beach:

Charlie_Lunch_Beach

Spend the afternoon playing in the water (and ‘surfing’):

fl-boys-surfing

Florida-Charlie-Baywatch-shot

fl-running-in-waves

fl-charlie-surfing

Charlie thinks he’s surfing. Also pant-less. Hmmm?

Watching Wolverine and Captain America ‘Surf’ was the highlight of the trip, I think:

 Sadly, Wolverine is still swimming in the Gulf somewhere.  He didn’t make it home with us :(

Molly lounged in her ‘spot’ most of the afternoon:

Florida-Molly1

Cook and eat dinner.

Watch the AMAZING sunsets:

fl-sunset-5

Florida-Sunset-3

Florida-Sunset-Tuesday-700

And get the boys to bed at a reasonable hour so we could relax!!

Repeat.

For 14 days.

Actually, we switched it up and took the water taxi back to the mainland half way through to buy more groceries and treat ourselves to lunch at a restaurant.  We also had some time to drive over to Boca Grande and explore.  Very, very gorgeous.  And ritzy.

Back on our island, we decided to make the 2 mile trek from our rental to the southern tip of the island with all three boys and Molly.  Going back wasn’t as much fun … let me tell you.

There was a sandbar which created some calmer water at the tip of the island, and Molly finally decided to try out the ocean water (but just barely).  She had been scared of it all trip:

fl-molly-in-water

The very tip was a bit windy that day, but the view was amazing:

florida-boys-point

That’s Boca Grande in the background.

Florida-family-point

Owen looks thrilled, doesn’t he??

I ran to the tip a couple times during our stay, and one day I had this running partner:

fl-dolphin-run

 

We actually saw quite a few dolphins just outside our house.  The boys got a kick out of them!

And just like that … the two weeks were up, and we ready to take the taxi back (boo!):

All of our luggage waiting for the water taxi

All of our luggage waiting for the water taxi

The boys and Molly did seem to enjoy that last boat ride, though:

water-taxi-home

fl-molly-way-home

We packed up the van and started the long drive home.  We made it in two long days of driving (one night in Chattanooga),  but I’m not going to say it was as easy as the trip there.

The second half of the last day there was a lot of this:

fl-charlie-fit

And I learned that my Warrior Sculpt Yoga classes have really been paying off with all the maneuvers I did from the front seat to the back and in between and under the seats.  Also … now I need a Chiropractor ASAP!

It was an absolutely fabulous trip!  Matt worked a bit every morning, and I did some blogging after the boys went to bed, but during the day we completely unplugged and relaxed!  I would spend 50 hours in the car again to go there again in a heartbeat!  Or maybe more like a month …

It’s back to our routine and reality here in Minnesota, but at least we’re on the backside of winter (Spring is in sight!!!).

If you are thinking about visiting Little Gasparilla, and you would like more info … just let me know!!  I’m happy to tell you more details and more lessons learned!!

 

k-sign

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6 Comments

  • Reply Breanna February 11, 2015 at 9:38 am

    This looks like it was an absolutely amazing vacation! What an awesome spot you found :) Oakley loves running on the beach too and would have been in puppy heaven right there with Molly!
    Breanna recently posted…DIY PVC Pipe Table :: Monthly DIY ChallengeMy Profile

    • Reply Katie February 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks, Bre!! Yes … you (and Oakley) should strongly consider visiting this island some day!

  • Reply Amy February 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    That looks amazing! We will be in Florida next week with my in.laws… sadly, they are more pool folks than beach folks. I’m like, why move to FL if you don’t do the OCEAN EVERY TIME!
    Amy recently posted…Modern Valentine DIYsMy Profile

    • Reply Katie February 11, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Ha! I’ve always been a beach/ocean person!! I could watch the waves for hours! Have a great trip!

  • Reply Mandy Rudisel February 24, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    How cool! We are staying at that exact house in 3 weeks!! Can’t wait!
    Your pictures are beautiful!

    • Reply Katie February 25, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks, Mandy!! I’ll be in touch … :)

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