26 April 2010

Little Gasparilla Island, Florida

For this year's images from Little Gasparilla island, you can visit my facebook page I will be adding a new blog entry after Easter. Also, check out my slideshow on Little Gasparilla Island

I apologize in advance if this entry seems to be a bit on the lengthy side. It is not because of my extensive narrative. It is because I have uploaded about 40 images. You can click on them to see a larger version of the image

Far from the noisy beaches of Florida, hidden in the back roads and only accessible by water taxi (or your own boat), is Little Gasparilla Island. A small barrier island separated by thin strips of sand from the neighboring islands. According to Google Earth, the center of the island is at 26o49'47.31" North and 82o17'27.03" East.

We were dropped-off on the island by captain Emmett Shane of Pirate Water Taxi (tel. 941.697.5777).

Captain Emmett, is a great guy who one time even went out of his way so that the children could enjoy seeing the dolphins playing in the wake of his boat (pictures farther down). But on his boat he has the final say (like for instance he will carry your luggage on board and take it off the boat for you and if you argue about it, you will lose the argument). Not to mention that he can maneuver it in the tightest spots...

The first thing you notice when you get off the boat is that all homes are sitting on stilts. No foundation!!! The reason, I am told, is that it is a flood zone. But in the lush tropical vegetation it makes perfect sense. We were lucky to rent a beautiful house from the Smiths on Gulf street.

The houses on the bay side (east) seem to all have private docks, although there are numerous public docks.

There is not much to do on the island other than rest. It is obviously great for the spirit.

Yes, electricity and running water, and internet and all the amenities of modern life are there, but what it is missing, and in my opinion makes Little Gasparilla a great place to vacation, are cars, stores and paved streets. If you want to move around the island, and are either lazy or need help, you can always rent a golf cart.

This looks like a great roundabout.

The beach on the Gulf of Mexico side stretches across the island and it is a great place to look for unique sea shells and shark teeth that wash ashore. Sand dollars, those elusive fragile shells are there too and, as with everything, once you train your eyes, the ocean will not let you down.

There are several trees that are laying on the beach, dried from the salt and the sun.

Boat fishing is great (I am told). On this trip, I just cast my line from the pier and I got a couple of Gafftopsail Catfish, that per the suggestion of my friend Paul Riccardi (chef and co-owner of Ataraxis Tavern, in Marblehead, MA) and my wife's excellent cooking tasted delicious blackened with Cajun spices. Also, the porgies and the ladyfish did not taste bad either on the grill with lemon...

Of course sometimes it is a tough choice between camera gear and fishing pole. So, the iphone picture will have to do (sorry).

One thing that is great about the island is the flora. The fragrant hibiscus plants in everyone's backyard come in a multitude of colors.

I was really impressed by the yellow flowers of the cacti.

Every tropical island has interesting plants and small flowers... Walk around the island with your eyes open and you will see nature in its full glory.

One has to wonder how can a flower thrive in the sand...

Clearly, there is no shortage of shore birds (plenty of Piping Plovers & Spotted Sandpipers).

Of course the Great Blue Herons and the American Egrets are there to enjoy small fish.

You cannot walk the island and not notice the osprey either hunting or building their nests.

The brown pelicans fly in formation until they hit the water. Then they seem to be going on their own fishing and finally gather together again.

But if you walk looking at the ground you will see a turtle or two (the snakes were too fast to photograph -- sorry)

... or the shy little lizards

On one of the few trips to the mainland, we were lucky enough to encounter dolphins. Of course captain Emmet decided to entertain us all by turning around and creating the kind of wake the dolphins like to jump in and out of.

Finally, a visit to Little Gasparilla island is not complete without staying on the beach (Gulf of Mexico side) to watch the sunset.

I hope that you enjoyed this short photo essay.

-- Andréas

www.andreasthanos.com -- Commercial Photography
www.marbleheadphoto.com -- Portrait and Event Photography

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