Even though we have no home other than our boat, we consider Punta Gorda our home base. That may change in the future as we stretch our sea legs, but for now the areas closest to Charlotte Harbor is where we consider “home”. Punta Gorda is widely recognized on various “Best Of” lists for quality of life, best places to retire, low crime, town beauty, etc. We didn’t quit our jobs and live on a boat just to live in a town though. The boating and anchoring opportunities nearby abound.
Perusing the chart above, you can see that we are a short distance from several awesome destinations. Boca Grande sits on the southern end of Gasparilla Island. Cayo Costa offers pristine white beaches and the best anchorage in all of Florida. Captiva and Sanibel are just to the south. The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the Intercoastal side of Sanibel Island also has a beautiful anchorage. Across San Carlos Bay lies St. James City on the southern tip of Pine Island. Just across the Caloosahatchee River is Ft. Myers Beach. A great stop for re-provisioning.
Ft. Myers Beach Mooring Field
Heading north from The Boca Grande Pass up the Intercoastal presents dozens of neat little hideaways to anchor in. Englewood Beach is home to more than a dozen full-time liveaboards, but there’s always room for a few more boats. Stump Pass anchorage is a bit tricky to get into with a draft of 4 feet or more, but once inside it’s well protected and the views are stunning.
Further north once can explore Sarasota, Venice, Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and on to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Don’t forget a side trip up the Manatee River towards Bradenton. Happy cruisers can spend months, even years hopping from anchorage to anchorage along the west coast of Florida from Tarpon Springs all the way to the Keys. Key West and even the Dry Tortugas are within range from the mouth of Charlotte Harbor.
Pelican Bay, formed by the islands of Cayo Costa and Punta Blanca.
The Florida Keys get all the credit for scenery, but I’m here to tell you that SW Florida rivals the Keys in every way. The beaches are far superior. The anchorages offer much better holding and protection, and the sunsets are every bit as awesome.
If you’re thinking of buying that cruising boat and sailing off to the Keys, I urge you to reconsider. Southwest Florida is far less crowded, much safer, and dare I say, even more beautiful than the Keys.
The beach at Cayo Costa. Where are all the tourists?!
As I stated in my first book Leap of Faith; Quit Your Job and Live on a Boat, when you get your boat and make your way to Florida, look us up. I’ve got a cold beer waiting for you.