Skip to Content

Why This Lesser Known Florida Island Was Named Best Small Beach Town In The U.S.

Share The Article

Last Updated

There are many charming small beach towns in the United States, but this underrated Florida island was just named the best one.

Travel + Leisure gave Gasparilla Island, Florida the distinction of being the best small beach town in the U.S. for 2023.

Gasparilla Island FL

This was determined through the polling of travel experts and travelers, and the ranking took into account factors like accommodation options, activities, and unique reasons to visit, such as notable festivals or attractions.

Small beach towns refer to towns with a population of 25,000 people or less, so no larger destinations were in the running for this title.

When it comes to small towns, Gasparilla Island took the number one spot.

Here's why this underrated Florida destination was named the best small beach town of the year:

Gasparilla Island Lighthouse View

Laidback Atmosphere

Gasparilla Island is a small barrier island located on the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida. The island's only town, Boca Grande, is known for its upscale yet laidback atmosphere.

The island retains its Old Florida charm, making it the perfect destination for travelers who want a relaxing beach getaway. There's only one way to get to Gasparilla Island: the Boca Grande Causeway. It's approximately one hour and 45 minutes from Tampa and 1 hour and 20 minutes from Fort Myers.

Although Florida is one of the top destinations in the United States, Gasparilla Island's small size and relatively isolated location mean that it is still a hidden gem.

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Easily Earn Points For Free Travel

Gasparilla Island Aerial View

Easy To Get Around

Gasparilla Island is very small, with a total permanent population of just 1,900 people. (Of course, this number swells in size during peak tourist season, which lasts from late November until early July.)

It's small in size too — at seven miles long and half a mile wide, it's very easy to get around town. There aren't even any stoplights on the island!

Many visitors rent bicycles or golf carts to get around. This makes it easy to explore the island during the day and head into town for dinner in the evenings. The town of Boca Grande is home to a handful of great restaurants, especially if you like fresh seafood.

Gasparilla Island State Park

Unique Things To Do

Gasparilla Island is famous for its fishing and is known as the Tarpon Capital of the World. There's even a tarpon fishing tournament that occurs every year and attracts competitors from around the country for over $100,000 in prize money.

Aside from fishing, there are plenty of other things to do in Gasparilla Island. Cycling on the island's 6.5-mile bike path is a good way to explore, stopping at beaches and lighthouses along the way. Gasparilla Island State Park is a popular beach where you can relax and enjoy a picnic lunch.

A popular day trip you shouldn't miss is Cayo Costa State Park. This uninhabited island just south of Gasparilla Island is home to pristine nature and beaches. It can only be accessed by water, making it a popular excursion for boaters and kayakers.

Gasparilla Island From Above

Beautiful Beaches

Florida has many beautiful beaches, but Gasparilla Island is especially nice. This is because the island is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, which is known for its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

Beach bums will love relaxing on the shores of Gasparilla Island. There are also plenty of activities you can do at the beach, including kayaking and paddle boarding. You can also rent a boat and get out on the water.

And since the island is located on the western side of Florida, you can also catch spectacular sunsets from the beaches of Gasparilla Island.

view of beach in florida

↓ Elevate Your Travel↓

Sign Up Now For Travel Off Path Premium! No ads, VIP Content, Personal Travel Concierge, Huge Savings, Daily Deals, Members Forum & More!


Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.