DON PEDRO ISLAND STATE PARK
This beautiful little island is part of an extensive chain of barrier islands extending along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Between Knight Island and Little Gasparilla Island, Don Pedro is accessible only by private boat. Boaters can tie up at the dock on the bay side of the island, which is lined with mangroves. Access to the dock is through a 2.5 -foot - deep channel south of the Cape Haze power line crossing. Visitors might see endangered animals such as West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises, bald eagles, and American oystercatchers. With a mile of white sand beach, popular activities on the island?s Gulf side include sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and shelling. Boat and surf fishing are also favorite pastimes. For hiking and nature study, trails meander through the island?s 11 natural communities. Located off the coast of Cape Haze about nine miles south of Englewood. Boating location is Nautical Waterproof Chart #25. Intracoastal Waterway directional signs guide visitors to the park.
Some of the protected animal species that may be seen on the island are the West Indian manatee, gopher tortoise, southern bald eagle, least tern, royal tern, sandwich tern and the American oystercatcher.
For thousands of years in and around the Charlotte Harbor, Calusa Indians raised their families, hunted, and scavenged for shellfish. They are described as sedentary, populous, tributary-fishing-and-hunting people. It is well documented that Indians lived around nearby Lemon Bay for more than five thousand years. In the early 1500's the area was "discovered" by the Spaniard, Ponce de Leon.
The general area of Don Pedro and other barrier islands in Charlotte Harbor were habitat to Indians, pirates and other predators long before homesteaders moved in. After many years of changing hands the land was sold to a local developer in 1969. The developer built the pavilion and docks on Don Pedro and had a "free ferry" service running to the island from Cape Haze. His plans were to develop and build condominiums on this beautiful gulf front property. The island was a strong selling point for the developer.
After years of developing the surrounding area of Rotonda West and Cape Haze, and the local residents using Don Pedro Island as their "private island" playground, Don Pedro Island was put up for sale. Don Pedro Island was purchased by the state in 1984 under the Save Our Coasts program for $6 million. The ferry service was discontinued to the island. This left the island accessible only by private boat. At this time there are 12 dock slips for public use, picnic tables, grills and a large picnic shelter with boardwalks to the beach and a restroom with outside shower.
An additional piece of property was just added containing nearly 100 acres as a landbase for this site. Plans are in the process for a restroom, nature trail, picnic shelter and a 30-40 car parking area. Future usage will be considered.
The park offers sunbathing and swimming on its beautiful gulf beaches. Keep in mind, Don Pedro Island State Park is located on Little Gasparilla Island and is accessible only by private boat.
Pristine beach on the Gulf of Mexico. This beach is perfect for shelling, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and sunbathing.
Docks available for day use only are located on the bay side via a channel from the Intracoastal Waterway.
Fishing is available on both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico and can yield catches of flounder, snook, trout, redfish, snapper, whiting, sheepshead and tarpon.