Southern Escapes: Florida's Islands | Great Southern Destinations

In the Sunshine State, you can find secluded tropical islands close to home on any budget!

Explore beyond Florida’s tradition beaches and you’ll find Florida’s lesser-known islands – each with its own unique charm and local activities. From Old Florida-inspired character to private island retreats, there’s no need to travel thousands of miles to find your ultimate island destination.

Anna Maria Island

One of West Florida’s best-kept secret beach towns – Anna Maria Island is a hidden utopia of tropical beaches, vibrant turquoise water and quaint island-inspired eateries. Where sunsets are truly celebrated, Anna Maria Island’s Bean Point is a fabulous stage for an unforgettable sunset since Bean Point is located where the Gulf of Mexico meets Tampa Bay. Just an hour drive from Tampa, Florida – Anna Maria Island boasts seven miles of relaxing beach seclusion away from the beach crowds of Tampa and St. Pete. Natural and pristine, guests of Anna Maria Island value the community’s remote island atmosphere, unspoiled dunes and slow pace. Popular community attractions include fishing on Anna Maria City Pier, lunch at Rudy’s Subs & More, dinner at City Pier Restaurant and beaching on Bean Point.

Gasparilla Island

A classy beach haven that is not just for the rich and famous that are known to vacation on the island – Southwest Florida’s Gasparilla Island is a unique southern beach retreat town worth visiting. One of Florida’s hush-hush vacation destinations boasting famous Old South charm, secluded tropical beaches and preppy style – arriving at Gasparilla Island is like arriving in “Old Florida” of the early 1900’s with modern amenities. An hour-and-a-half drive from Fort Myers and a two-hour drive from Tampa, Gasparilla Island is one of Florida’s most interesting hidden assets. Polite, proper but not snobby – guests of various vacation budgets will truly enjoy Gasparilla’s classy Old Florida atmosphere, shaded bike trails, and charming town attractions. Popular town traditions include visiting Hudson’s Grocery, seafood at Temptation Restaurant, lunch at Pink Elephant and ice cream at Loose Caboose. Sanibel Island More than a beachcomber’s paradise, Sanibel Island is a Gulf Coast of Florida sanctuary just a short drive from Fort Myers, Florida. A popular destination for shelling and tropical beaches, most visitors partake in the “Sanibel Stoop” – what Sanibel locals label shelling on the beach. Although a popular Florida vacation destination, Sanibel Island still feels low-key and somewhat secluded. Described as family-friendly and relaxing, Sanibel proves to be popular by all types of visitors with the island’s unmatched beaches, seafood restaurants and wide range of outdoor activities. Popular Sanibel traditions include breakfast at The Island Cow, dinner at Traders Café and sunset watching on the beach at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse.

Cedar Key

The perfect island destination for bird-watchers and fishing enthusiasts – Cedar Key is a natural paradise located about three miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. A vacation destination for those who cherish nature - Cedar Key is known for its bountiful fishing, “Old Florida” fishing village pace and phenomenal sunsets. Visitors would tell you - you haven’t witnessed a real sunset until you have watched a sunset from the beach on Cedar Key. Just a few hours from Gainesville, Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida – Cedar Key is the perfect hidden beach oasis within relatively close distance to Florida’s largest cities. Popular Cedar Key traditions include fishing with one of the area’s charters, ordering clam chowder at Tony’s Seafood Restaurant and cocktails at The Hideaway Tiki Bar.

Little Palm Island

If exclusive private island or luxury resort is in your budget – visit Little Palm Island, Florida - one of the top island destinations in the United States. A tiny boutique island off Little Torch Key of the Lower Florida Keys – Little Palm Island is an exceptional remote resort with spectacular outdoor dining, a luxurious spa and extraordinary tropical snorkeling. Showcasing tropical beaches worthy of dreams – Little Palm Island is the ideal destination in the South for a romantic getaway for two. Little Palm Island does not permit children under the age of 16 which creates the perfect intimate destination to rekindle the romance or celebrate your honeymoon. Popular Little Palm Island traditions include spending time at the Little Palm Key Spa, snorkeling the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and scuba diving the Looe Key Reef.

Pine Island

A true kayaking and boating sanctuary with artistic and tropical character - Pine Island, Florida is comprised of smaller communities, each with its own unique vibes and coastal flair. While Pine Island has little beaches for activities, it is the ideal island for kayaking, fishing and boating enthusiasts. The largest island in the Sunshine State, Pine Island refers to the communities of Matlacha, Pine Island Center, Bokeelia, Pineland and St. James City. Each community with its own distinct characteristics – Matlacha is best described as a charming and artsy Old Florida fishing village while Bokeelia is best described as Pine Island’s center for commercial fishing, fishing charters and boat rentals. Popular Pine Island traditions include lunch at Miceli’s Restaurant, kayaking and dining at Old Fish House Marina Restaurant.

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