At the far southern end of Gasparilla Island, at the cut that lets ships into Gasparilla Sound, sits the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and it’s near twin building. Both structures are beautifully restored, and the lighthouse has been converted into a museum dedicated to the history of the light and the island.
The area is relatively undeveloped, though the beach that the buildings face is a popular one. Most of the light’s visitors are probably also beach goers, though the town of Boca Grande, located a few miles up the road, has a thriving tourism economy as well.
Both the beach and the lighthouse area are part of Gasparilla Island State Park, one of the smaller Florida state parks. The lighthouse doubles as the visitor center of the park.
The museum has an interesting collection of artifacts and a lot of information about the history of the area, including the development of the several industries that necessitated the construction of the light. There’s also a nice gift shop.
The park has plenty of opportunities to view wildlife, especially shore birds such as plovers, sandpipers and gulls. One of the other animals you’ll likely see is the green iguana. These are invasive reptiles. Originally from South and Central America, they have colonized south Florida and the Keys by catching rides on ships and being released by people who kept them as pets (both intentionally and unintentionally). While they’re not dangerous to humans (and generally act as if they don’t care that we’re near them), they have significant impact on native wildlife.
Some of the plants they eat are the primary food for native animals and some are endangered plants. They have been observed using the burrows of the native burrowing owls, which is a protected species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that as of 2020 there isn’t an official eradication program, though they encourage property owners to humanely euthanize problem iguanas.