Just east of the barrier islands on the west coast of Florida, lies Pine Island Sound. It is dotted with dozens of small, uninhabited mangrove islands. Only a few show any signs of civilization. The most exclusive of these is Useppa Island.
It has been known for luxury resorts since the late 19th century, and it is currently the home of the private Useppa Island Club. On May 21, 1996, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, due to its archaeological significance. The Barbara Sumwalt Museum is located on the island.
The Useppa Island Club is more exclusive than the island itself. If you’ve got money to burn and are looking for a world class island getaway, check it out: http://useppa.com/
There are assorted (expensive) membership options. Otherwise, if you can’t get an invite from a current member, Captiva Cruises offers day excursions from South Seas Island Resort and McCarthy’s Marina on beautiful Captiva Island, Florida.
Like the nearby islands of Gasparilla, Sanibel, and Captiva, a folk etymology has developed connecting Useppa Island’s name to the legendary pirate captain José Gaspar, also known as Gasparilla. A local folk story, extant in at least two versions, tells of Gaspar kidnapping a Spanish princess, with whom he becomes enamored. When she spurns his advances he kills her, but is overtaken by remorse and buries her himself on the beach. One version identifies the princess as Josefa, daughter of Martín de Mayorga, Viceroy of New Spain from 1779 to 1782, and indicates that her burial place of Useppa Island still bears her name in an altered form.
Kim and I have explored the shoreline in our dinghy on numerous occassions. The homes on shore are simply gorgeous, with a beautiful view of Pine Island Sound. Manatee and dolphin abound in the surrounding waters. Fishing is excellent for snook, redfish and tarpon in season. Don’t wander to close to the club and marina, the harbormaster will run you off!