Beautiful Boca Grande is a phenomenal vacation destination on Gasparilla Island on Florida’s west coast. Since Boca Grande is surrounded by water and state parks, you have to look hard for a more scenic, nature-centered place in which to spend your vacation days. Relax on the white sands of the beach, or frolic in the turquoise Gulf Coast waters. Whatever you choose to do while breathing in some fresh air, consider these 11 great places to find a Boca Grande vacation rental when planning your trip.

1. Boca Grande Downtown

The Boca Grande downtown area is the perfect mixture of luscious beauty, quaint streets, and nature. Wherever you stay, you’re only a few minutes from a body of water, from the Gulf of Mexico in the west to Charlotte Harbor in the east. Rent some bikes and go on a ride with the kids to cut down on your walking time. Stop by for some seafood at PJ’s or a burger at Loose Caboose.

2. Boca Grande Beach

Staying beachside is another option, and it’s perfect for those who want to walk from their back door onto the white sand. Play on the beach with the kids, building sandcastles and looking for shells, or take in some sun while they frolic in the water. Take your boat on vacation with you, and find plenty of opportunities to take it out. If you don’t have a boat, rent one or even sign up for a tour of the bayous and back-bays. The dolphins and manatees alone make a water adventure worth it.

3. Boca Grande Bayou

Speaking of exploring bayous, if this is your idea of fun – and it should be with a lush wetland habitat and mangrove swamps that add an otherworldly look – stay in a vacation rental at Boca Grande Bayou, located just northeast of downtown. Boat or even walk to Three Sisters Island and hike around it.

4. Gasparilla Island State Park

Settle down at the southern end of Gasparilla Island at the Gasparilla Island State Park. Take your children on a nature hike along the southern end of the island where rare birds nest and migrate through. Add in a stop at the 1890-era lighthouse and Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum to turn your vacation into an educational experience.

5. Gasparilla Road

Another option is to head north of the downtown area for a nice, private rental along Gasparilla Road. These homes are more spread out, giving you privacy to play on the beach with your kids or enjoy a bonfire with the family. Fishing is big here, so if you don’t have all the necessary supplies, you can rent some tackle in town. However, if you want a unique fishing experience, try some kayak fishing via guide services; they can show you the best spots to pick up some trout for dinner.

6. Boca Grande North

Fishing is so big on Gasparilla road that the north side of the island boasts the Boca Grande Fishing Pier, a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon trying your luck with the redfish, tarpon, or snook. The inland pond offers residents and visitors alike a nice place to swim for a change from the salt water. This neighborhood is connected to the mainland via the Boca Grande Causeway meaning that you can easily head to the city for some fun.

7. Don Pedro Island South

If Boca Grande doesn’t have what you need, hop over Gasparilla Pass to south Don Pedro Island. Rent a boat for your stay and putter around the sound, island hopping from Gasparilla Sound to Cayo Costa to Pine Island. Don Pedro Island boasts a state park, threaded with hiking trails and plenty of shoreline for ocean enthusiasts. Take a picnic lunch with you, and make a day of it.

8. Placida

Because Placida lies on the other end of the Boca Grande Causeway on the mainland, find a rental here if you want to get to Gasparilla Island and don’t have a boat to get you there. Placida itself offers a marina, boat ramp, and fishing charters, all the necessities for a day spent on the water. You can also enjoy fresh seafood at the Fishery or stroll along the Coral Creek Fishing Pier and Centennial Park.

9. Cape Haze

Head a few minutes north along Placida road for Cape Haze. Not only is it a short jaunt from Gasparilla Island, but it’s also just across from Don Pedro Island. Jump on your boat and tool along Kettle Harbor, Don Pedro Island State Park, and Rambler Hole. Keep your eyes peeled for the protected West Indian manatee and rare gopher tortoise. You might even spot a southern bald eagle if you’re lucky.

10. Rotonda West

Another mainland rental location close to Boca Grande is Rotonda West. It contains the Amberjack Environmental Park, a 225-acre area that boasts a boardwalk for hikers and birdwatchers alike. The trail passes through flatwood, scrub, and mangrove for a scenic experience. Opt for a place along Rotonda Sands, which contains water canals where you can dock your boat.

11. Bokeelia

Head southeast from Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande to Pine Island. On the tip lies Bokeelia, a small community that also boasts houses and rentals on canals that thread through the swamplands onto Back Bay and Charlotte Harbor. A quick boat ride takes you quickly to Boca Grande for coffee and a sandwich at 3rd Street Cafe and then on to Cayo Costa State Park for some hiking. Stop and explore some of the little islands between.