Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club| Englewood FL
Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club| Englewood FL
Area Information The Barrier Islands

The Barrier Islands - called "The Keys"

Dr Beach

Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman is Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental (Coastal) Sciences from the University of Virginia and completed his undergraduate degree in Geosciences at North Carolina State University.

Before joining FIU, Stephen was Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at the University of Maryland, Director of the National Park Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at Boston University.

Unparalleled beauty at Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach consistently ranked as one of the top beaches in the US. Renowned beach expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman recognized Siesta Key Public Beach's exceptional features and awarded it a top spot on his coveted list.

A beach like no other

Siesta Key's stunning ultra-white quartz sand sets it apart from other beaches. This unique feature gives the beach its mesmerizing appearance and contributes to its excellent rating. Experience the pleasure of walking on soft, powdery sand that feels like no other beach.

Learn more about the Barrier Islands and view Homes for Sale

The Keys on Florida's Sun Coast

Anna Maria and Longboat Key
St Armands and Lido Key
Bird Key
Siesta Key
Casey Key
Venice Isle
Manasota Key
Don Pedro and Little Gasparilla Island
Gasparilla Island
Captiva and Sanibel
Anna Maria and Longboat Key

Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key -  the closest it can get to Tampa

Your gateway to the stunning beaches of Manatee County!

Discover your perfect beach lifestyle

Experience the best of both worlds with Manatee County's 27 miles of pristine white sand beaches. Whether you're looking for a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere or a more upscale and refined setting, Anna Maria has the perfect property for you.

Anna Maria Island: Beachy and Laid Back

Escape to the charming island of Anna Maria, where you'll find a beachy, laid-back vibe perfect for those seeking a carefree coastal lifestyle. Enjoy endless sun, sand, and relaxation days in this idyllic paradise.

Longboat Key: Formal and Buttoned Up

If you prefer a more formal and sophisticated atmosphere, Longboat Key is the place for you. This exclusive island offers upscale clubs, world-class golf courses, fine dining establishments, and a thriving community of like-minded individuals.

Your dream property awaits

Whether you're interested in a beachfront condo with breathtaking ocean views or a luxurious villa nestled in a private gated community, Anna Maria Island has a wide selection of properties to suit every taste and budget. Take advantage of the opportunity to own a piece of this tropical paradise.

Discover the Perfect Coastal Living Experience

While Anna Maria boasts several stunning and vibrant beaches, Longboat Key offers a unique charm of its own. Although not as renowned for its beach, the island captivates with its exclusive golf club and course that serves as the focal point for residents and visitors alike.

Your Slice of Paradise, Away from the Crowds

With over two million annual visitors to Longboat Key and Anna Maria, it's essential to find your peaceful retreat amidst the hustle and bustle. But while the number of visitors may seem daunting when divided by 365 days, rest assured that there are certain times when the crowds dissipate, allowing you to enjoy your island escape fully.

Anna Maria Island

Population: 7,082 (2013)

Length: 10.8 miles

Width: .05 to 1 mile

Longboat Key

Max length: 7.021 miles

Max Width: 1.988 mile 

Population: 8,500 (2005)

St Armands and Lido Key
St Armands Circle

St Armands and Lido Key - Home of the famous St Armands Circle

Your Gateway to Exquisite Properties in the Paradise of Lido Key and St Armands Circle

Discover the best of both worlds

Once you cross the bridge from Longboat Key to St.Armands Key/Lido Key, you'll find a perfect blend of stunning white sand beaches and a vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Lido Key - where beach dreams come true

Indulge in the ultimate beachside living on Lido Key, with its pristine white sand beach that stretches for miles. Enjoy breathtaking ocean views and immerse yourself in a relaxed coastal lifestyle.

St. Armands Circle - a world-class destination

Step into the heart of St. Armands Circle, an iconic hub that captivates visitors from around the globe. With its charming boutiques, eclectic shops, and diverse restaurants offering international cuisine, St Armands Circle is renowned for its vibrant ambiance and unforgettable shopping and dining experiences.

St Armands and Lido Key

Population: 3,068

Length: 3.6 miles

Width: 1.4 miles

Bird Key
Bird Key Canal Homes

Bird Key

Welcome to Bird Key:

Discover the ultimate waterfront living on Bird Key, an exclusive island neighborhood with luxurious homes and endless boating opportunities.

A Boater's Dream Come True

Bird Key offers a boater's paradise like no other. With deep water canals and a private yacht club, you'll have easy access to the stunning Sarasota Bay and beyond. Whether you're an avid boater or simply appreciate the beauty of waterfront living, this is the place for you.

Unrivaled Waterfront Properties

Immerse yourself in luxury with over 300 single-family homes that boast breathtaking bay-front views. Many of these properties come with deep water dockage, ensuring that your boat is always ready for your next adventure. The waterfront lifestyle you've always dreamed of is within reach on Bird Key.

Bird Key Yacht Club: Where Luxury Meets Recreation

Experience the epitome of elegance at the recently remodeled private Bird Key Yacht Club. Indulge in world-class amenities, including dining options, social events, and recreational facilities. As a resident of Bird Key, you'll have exclusive access to this prestigious club.

The Perfect Location

Nestled between Downtown Sarasota and St. Armand's Circle, Bird Key offers unparalleled convenience and proximity to renowned shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations. Enjoy the best of both worlds - a tranquil island retreat just moments away from vibrant city life.

Bird Key

Population: 865

Length: 1.3 miles

Width: .8 miles

Siesta Key

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is the next barrier island on the trip further south. Two drawbridges are connecting this tropical paradise with the mainland. The four beaches and the village are the main attraction of Siesta Key. The rated #1 Siesta Public Beach is the most popular one. The brilliant white sand, the emerald water, and a perfect blue sky drive thousands of visitors to Siesta Key every year. 

The Village of Siesta Key, located at the north end of the island, is the other main attraction. Shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars, with and without live music, are entertaining sun-seekers who come to the key from nearly every corner of the earth. 

Siesta Key is by far the busiest of all the barrier islands and it can turn into a crazy spot on public holidays. Unfortunately, parking is never unlimited on islands - especially not on public holidays. Primarily the south-bridge acts as a bottleneck once in a while, therefore, try to get off the island on the 4th of July weekend and you will believe us. You might find yourself trapped in a traffic jam for hours. However, that is the price to pay for a beautiful experience on the beach. Hardcore Siesta Key fans don't mind- if they want to go to their #1 beach ...they will go. 

Siesta Key

Population: 6,565 (2010)

Length: 8 miles

Width: 1.5 - 0 .1 miles

Casey Key
Homes on Casey Key
Casey Key

Casey Key

Casey Key, like Siesta Key, also connected by two drawbridges, is the next barrier island. The north-bridge, called "Blackburn Point Bridge," is a historic swing bridge. Very few bridges of that kind are left left in the US. At certain times, this 100 year old bottleneck is a pain because it has only one lane, but nobody wants to get rid of the old bridge, and if you have time to go to the beach, you should have five minutes to wait at the bridge. 


Once on the island, you will feel that the isolated eight miles long Key is a different world. There is only very little commercial activity at the south end of the island. No high- rise buildings, no hotels, and no restaurants. Wow! Can you starve to death on Casey Key? Well, not really. There is the famous "Casey Key Fish House" Restaurant right by the historical north-bridge, and there are "The Pelican Alley" and "Pop's Sunset Grill" right by the south-bridge, but on the mainland.

Furthermore, when you drive to the Jetty, there is the "North Jetty Fish Camp," and a Concessions Stand, where you can get at least a hot dog and a cold one. So, dare to go to Casey Key, you may survive your trip.

Nokomis Beach - the County's oldest Beach

Nokomis Beach is the only public beach on Casey Key, but the beach is a long stretch of white sand. You are perfectly safe there because lifeguards will keep an eye on you. New amenities, boardwalks through the dunes, and a boat ramp attract beach-goers and boaters from the mainland. 

By the way, Nokomis Beach is the oldest beach in Sarasota County. The Beach Plaza, which is part of the parking lot, was designed and built in the 1950s by Jack West. He was a member of the renowned Sarasota School of Architecture. After 50 years in service, the buildings needed a spring makeover, which was done in 2008. 

Amenities include lifeguards, boardwalk, canoe/kayak launch, boat ramp and dock, the historic Nokomis Beach Plaza, picnic shelters, playground, volleyball court, beach-side restrooms, bay-side portable restrooms, and free parking.

Real Estate is unique on Casey Key

Some of the most expensive homes located in Sarasota County are on Casey Key. You won't even notice, because many of them are hiding behind lush tropical landscaping, almost invisible to the visitor's eyes. Nobody would even assume that there are beautiful homes behind that jungle. Find out yourself and take the only road that runs down from the island's north end to the south end. Roll down the windows, let the warm breeze in and enjoy - it is an impressive ride. 

At the south end of Casey Key is the Venice Jetty, which ends the trip by car. This channel is one of the boatable waterways connecting the Intracoastal waterway with the Gulf of Mexico. To get to the next island, which is the Island of Venice, you have to leave Casey Key and drive on US-41 towards Venice. There is no bridge and no ferry you could use to cross the Jetty. 

The Drum Circle on Nokomis Beach

The famous drum circle gathers near the lifeguard tower on the  Beach each Wednesday and Saturday evening. The time of the event varies throughout the year because it is based on sunset. The Nokomis Beach Drum Circle is a very family-friendly event that lasts around an hour or so. All you need to bring is some good cheer, a drum, and a chair. However, if you only want to listen and watch, you can do that too. It is fun. 

Venice Isle

Island of Venice or Venice's Isle

Located on the Island of Venice are the downtown area, the historic district, the four beaches, the municipal airport, a public golf course, a hospital and doctors' offices, and the fishing pier. 

Most restaurants are in downtown Venice, but a few other restaurants are in different locations, like next to the fishing pier (Sharkey's and Finns) or by the Jetty (Crow's Nest). The focal point is the downtown/historic district area. Here you have the parades, the chalk festival, the farmers' markets, other activities, and music events. 

Yes, of course, and there is plenty of room for private residences on the island. A variety of condominiums, many of them overlooking the Gulf of Mexico or the Intracoastal Waterway, are dominating the skyline. They are all moderate in size and do not make a negative impression. Single-family homes cover vast areas of the island. However, Venice Isle does not have enough space to accommodate gated resort-style communities. There are a few clusters of communities, but they are small in size. 

While walking on the Beach southward (Brohard Beach), a beautiful beach that has been left in its natural state, you will eventually reach the next barrier island called Manasota Key. If you want to get to that key by car, you need to go back to the mainland again. That is an easy task because three modern draw bridges are connecting Venice Island with the mainland. 

Drive south on US-41, turn onto SR-776. After a few miles, you will reach Manasota Key Road. Cross the south-bridge, and you are in paradise again. Nothing you saw before comes even close to Manasota Key. This little island has its unique character. 
Manasota Key
Manasota Key Middle Beach
Manasota Key - Middle Beach

Manasota Key

Manasota Key is another Key with very little commercial activity. Englewood Beach, or Chadwick Beach, is the only beach with bars, restaurants, boat rental places, and even a convenience store within walking distance, 

Those bars and restaurants are why this beach is the most popular one on the island. All the other three beaches, Manasota Beach, Middle Beach, and Stump Pass State Park Beach, are usually not that crowded. They are more natural without any commercial activity. You may find a coke vending machine, but that is all. Bring your own food and drinks and enjoy the sun and the beach. 

In the Englewood Beach area you find a mixture of condominiums, manufactured homes, and modern single-family homes. Nothing too fancy, but if you think you can get a home for a few couples of dollars, you are barking up the wrong tree. Manasota Key is a barrier island, and real estate on barrier islands is pricey. 

About a mile further south from Englewood Beach, there is another natural barrier. Stump Pass is a channel where boats can go out on the Gulf of Mexico or go back into the Intracoastal Waterway. Stump Pass is only 200 yards wide, and you see the other island, which is Don Pedro, clearly on the other side. But if you want to go there, you need to leave the Key again and drive on the mainland (SR 776)  south. 

Manasota Key

Population: 1,229

Length: 6miles

Width: less than 1 mile

Don Pedro and Little Gasparilla Island
Beach on Don Pedro Island
Beach on Don Pedro Island

Don Pedro and Little Gasparilla Island 

Don Pedro and Little Gasparilla Island used to be separate islands, but somehow they merged a long time ago. You can only reach those islands in the sun by ferry or with a private boat. The 150 yard trip with that ship is pretty expensive when you want to take your beloved car with you. You might be better off leaving your car on the mainland, but that is your decision. The ferryman will bring you to the other side for money. 

The ferry is for the people who live there, or for vacationers who rent a home. It makes sense to take the car with you if you live on the island for an extended time, especially when the ferryman cuts you s special deal for using the ferry daily. 

Most island residents are short term vacationers or snowbirds; only a few people live there year-round. Our take is that living like Robinson Crusoe may appeal to some people, but when you look a little closer, not everybody may like the "remote lifestyle" after a while.

Kayak Trip to Don Pedro Island
Gasparilla Island
The Old Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island
Old Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island

Gasparilla Island

The last Island is Gasparilla, with the city of Bocca GrandeBocca Grande is known for the World's Richest Tarpon Tournament. Since 1930, anglers from all over the world are flocking to this former pirate hideout. The angler who catches the biggest fish is the winner, of course. Once they took the poor fish's weight and size, they will release them into their natural habitat again. Nobody wants to cook them because the meal would not be too pleasant. Tarpon is a game fish, and anglers like him because he is a strong fighter. Of course, you can eat them, but you would be spitting bones all night long. 

Now, at Gasparilla Sound, you have reached the end of the world. While the Venice Jetty or Stump Pass are relatively "small" barriers, the Gasparilla Sound is a real one. There used to be a harbor for seagoing vessels from where phosphate was shipped, but that is history. With the invention of chemical fertilizers, the port became obsolete. 

The Sound is wide and deep, and "DO NOT SWIM" signs indicate that this is by far not the right spot to go swimming. There is always a strong current, either going out into the Gulf or going inwards. Combined with a strong wind, this can be a deadly mixture. So, enjoy the lighthouse museum and the view. If you want to go swimming, go around the corner, and you are on the Gulf-side. A hundred yards can make a huge difference, and you will come home alive. 

Don Pedro-, Night-, Palm-, Little Gasparilla Island

Population: less than 1,000

Length: 5 miles

Width: 0.4 miles max.

Gasparilla Island

Population: 1,500

Length: 5 miles

Width: 0.8 miles max.

Captiva and Sanibel

Captiva and Sanibel Island

The barrier islands' string continues with North Captiva Island and Sanibel Island on the other side of the 1.5-mile wide channel. That string proceeds until you reach Key West and the Straits of Florida. 

With the Straits of Florida, you have hit a barrier much bigger than the Gasparilla Sound.  Anyway, that red/black/yellow marker in Key West indicates the end of the world - the United States' southern border.

For More Information about the Barrier Islands Click Here