Tag Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Continuing on the Southwest Florida Scenic Flight Tour

In a recent post I shared the beginnings of my private Southwest Florida Scenic Flight Tour. Starting in Punta Gorda, I highlighted the trip down to Sanibel Island and then as we headed back up the coast to Boca Grande.

Matlacha, Florida, Pine Island beyond

Matlacha Island, sitting between Pine Island and the Florida mainland.

Continuing on the rest of the flight took us from the top of Boca Grande and Gasparilla Island up to Manasota Key and Englewood Beach. We then turned inland going over Port Charlotte, spending some time flying around Charlotte Harbor and the heart of Punta Gorda before heading in. The beautiful blue skies and water continued for the rest of the tour.

Itโ€™s time to let the photos and their captions tell the rest of the Southwest Florida scenic flight tour story. Well without further ado.

Boca Grande, Gasparilla Island, Florida

Approaching Boca Grande at the top of Gasparilla Island in Florida.

The residential community of Boca Grande is surrounded by the colorful Gulf of Mexico and Gasparilla Sound waters.

Boca Grande Swing Bridge, Placida, Florida

You take the Boca Grande Swing Bridge from Placida and Charlotte County to get to the coast.

Don Pedro Island and State Park, Manasota Key, Englewood Beach in Southwest Florida

Don Pedro Island and State Park, Manasota Key and Englewood Beach straight ahead!

Placida Harbor, Placida, Florida

Rambler Hole and Placida Harbor. Placida, Florida sits off to the left.

Don Pedro Island State Park, Florida

Don Pedro Island State Park in Southwest Florida. That turquoise Gulf of Mexico water!

Gulf of Mexico beaches, Southwest Florida

Zooming in on the beachfront of Don Pedro Island. Amazing the difference in water color between the two sides.

Southwest Florida

Heading inland. Looking back to the south at Boca Grande, Coyo Costa and beyond.

My wife went up separately on a similar tour and snapped this beauty capturing all of Captiva Island amongst the turquoise Gulf of Mexico waters. I had to share it. ๐ŸŒดโ˜ผ

Captiva Island, Florida

Bonus shot. Wife captured all of Captiva perfectly on another flight the same day. Sanibel Island sits opposite the bridge and to the south.

South Gulf Cove, Port Charlotte, Florida

Over South Gulf Cove in Port Charlotte. Lots of vacant lots.

Charlotte Harbor, Florida

Just past Port Charlotte and over Charlotte Harbor.

Charlotte Harbor, Florida

Flying high over Charlotte Harbor. What a picturesque day for a flight.

Punta Gorda, Florida

Punta Gorda here we come! You can see the Charlotte Harbor Bridge that takes you over to Port Charlotte.

Laishley Park Municipal Marina, Punta Gorda, Florida

Laishley Park Municipal Marina front-and-center.

Downtown Punta Gorda, Florida

Fun seeing all the places that I have spent time in on the ground. Laishley Crab House is recommended.

Fisherman's Village, Punta Gorda

Fisherman’s Village. Waterfront shopping, outdoor dining and fun awaits on the little blue pier sticking out.

Downtown Punta Gorda, Florida

The heart of Downtown Punta Gorda.

Punta Gorda in Southwest Florida

Punta Gorda and the surrounding area.

I-75 cloverlead interchange in Southwest Florida.

An I-75 Cloverleaf interchange in Southwest Florida. Used to being on this interstate a lot further north.

Punta Gorda, Florida

Looking back at Punta Gorda and the heart of Charlotte County in Florida.

Punta Gorda Airport (PGD), Florida

Punta Gorda Airport here we come!

Upon landing at Punta Gorda Airport we taxied back to the hanger at which time my feet were back touching the ground. Being nervous beforehand, with the hour plus tour now over, I kind of wished I was still back up in the air. Southwest Florida is beautiful.

Selfie from hanger at Punta Gorda Airport, Florida

Back in the hanger at Punta Gorda Airport. I had an amazing flight and Florida experience.

The pilot did a great job showcasing what this part of the state has to offer. Being a small-plane first timer, I was amazed by how much has to take place pre- and post-flight as well as up in the air to keep everything going.

With one small airplane ride now in the books, I hope to see more scenic views this way again soon.

Have you ever been on a scenic flight tour? In Florida?

Wheels Up, Southwest Florida Scenic Flight Tour

Earlier this month I had the chance to go on a private scenic flight tour of Southwest Florida. This was my first ever flight tour. In fact it was my introduction to flying in a small airplane. I was nervous beforehand and initially upon take off, but my nerves quickly calmed as all the scenic views presented themselves.

Captiva Island and Buck Key Preserve

The car bridge from Sanibel to Captiva Island and Buck Eye Preserve. That blue gulf water!

The tour originated and ended at Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). I checked another airport off the list score! We went up on a recent early April morning to blue skies and light winds. Ideal conditions to be sure. There was a little turbulence over land, but while we were over the gulf, harbor and other large bodies of water, I just sat back and enjoyed the calm ride.

Punta Gorda, Florida

Just after take off the heart of Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor lay off in the distance.

Immediately after takeoff you could see the heart of Punta Gorda off in the distance as we turned and began the journey south.

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park in Punta Gorda, Florida

The marsh, wildlife and beauty of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park in Punta Gorda, Florida

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, the third largest Florida state park.

The beginning of the route took us past Burnt Store Harbor. Pine Island, Matlacha and down to Sanibel awaited next. Cape Coral and Ft. Myers sat to the east on the pilotโ€™s side of the plane. I was glad to see Charlotte Harbor, the Gulf of Mexico and countless islands and beaches on mine.

Burnt Store Marina, Southwest Florida

Looking down at the expansive Burnt Store Marina, the biggest marina on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Burnt Store Marina, Southwest Florida

Burnt Store Marina, a boaters paradise between Punta Gorda and Cape Coral.

Iโ€™ll let the photos and their captions tell a lot of the story. Well without further ado.

Charlotte Harbor, Florida

Out over the open Charlotte Harbor waters.

Southwest Florida scenic flight tour

Southwest Florida scenic flight tour is what was on the agenda for this day.

Matlacha, Florida, Pine Island beyond

Matlacha Island, sitting between the heart of Pine Island and the Florida mainland.

Matlacha Island, colorful shops and seafood shops.

Hello Matlacha Island and your wonderful seafood eateries and colorful shops.

St. James City in Southwest Florida

St. James City located on the southern end of Pine Island. Random if you are into blue crab, visit Island Crab Company. Take home some that are still moving, as they were captured that day.

Pine Island near Bokeelia, Florida

The top of Pine Island and the town of Bokeelia, the largest island on Florida’s west coast.

Heart of Pine Island, Florida

The middle of Pine Island. Pine Island Sound awaits on the other side.

Cape Coral, Florida

Looking off to the east and a residential heavy part of Cape Coral.

Once we reached Sanibel it was time to make a 180 degree turn and start heading north. We’d now be flying over the Gulf of Mexico alongside the rest of Sanibel, up-to Captiva, Boca Grande and beyond.

Northern part of Sanbiel Island, Florida.

The northern part of Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach is below. Flying over the Gulf of Mexico!

Bowman's Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida

Zooming in on Bowman’s Beach. Golf courses, Gulf coast homes and waterways everywhere you look.

Bridge connecting Sanibel Island and Captiva Island

Captiva Island is the furthest north you can get by car in this Southwest Florida island chain.

North Captiva Island and Captiva, Pine Island Sound sits beyond, Florida

Hurricane Charley blew out the bridge between Captiva and North Captiva Island. They never rebuilt.

North Captiva Island, Southwest Florida

You can get to North Captiva Island by boat and plane. See the thin grass strip runway?!

Grassy runway, North Captiva Island, Florida

North Captiva Island. Who wants to land their plane here?!

Cayo Costa Island, Florida along Gulf of Mexico.

The beach and state park of Cayo Costa along the Gulf of Mexico only accessible by charter boat.

Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande, Florida

The southern end of Gasparilla Island State Park, part of Boca Grande. You can reach by car via the Boca Grande Swing Bridge.

Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande, Florida

The heart of Gasparilla Island separated from the Florida mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound.

It was amazing to see a lot of the same places Iโ€™d been to on foot from a different perspective. I loved seeing all the greens and blues of the water and how quickly it transitions from one color to another. The pilot was very thorough both pre-flight and while in the air. It helped put my mind at ease. He pointed out spots of interest with lots of stories to go with along the way.

Aaron, the elATLboy, the Southwest Florida explorer by air.

Hello Everyone! It’s Aaron, the Southwest Florida explorer by air.

Oddly enough I experienced my first helicopter ride in Florida as well. I have found the Sunshine State to not be a bad place to take in the views airborne. โ˜€โ˜€โ˜€

The trip did not end at Boca Grande. Stay tuned as I will soon do a follow-up post covering the rest of my Southwest Florida scenic flight tour. More views await.

Have you ever been on a scenic flight tour? In Florida?

Enjoying the Gulf Coast Day at Clearwater Beach.

Miles of sugar white sand with the turquoise Gulf of Mexico waters on one side and an award-winning Florida beach town on the other, that’s Clearwater Beach.

Approaching the beach all that separates you from the sand are scores of palm trees.

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

We avoided the crowds and parking issues that can arise, by visiting on a weekday right after a holiday. Yes it is a popular tourist spot, but for good reason. ๐Ÿ™‚ We were hooked as soon as the car went into park.

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Amongst the heart of the beachfront is Pier 60. Across its length you’ll find a souvenir shop and a lot of fisherman. In the evening it’s the place to be as “Sunsets at Pier 60” takes over. You’ll find street performers, music and people selling gifts every day as the sun is setting over the gulf.

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Pier 60 #LoveFL

It was hot and humid with the sun coming down directly on us. That’s par for the course on a summer day in Florida. We managed to score some $1 waters and spent some time hiding under palm trees and in shops to cool down. They do have beach umbrellas available for rent as well as chairs.

Tip: Another option for cooling down is to look for the turtle statues. They all sit up-top the showers just off the beach used to clean the salt and sand off. The icy cold waters also make for a great way to cool down in a hurry.

Whether we were on the pier or beach, a beautiful view always stood in front of us. I’ll let the rest of the pictures tell the story. Anyone game for some bungee trampoline jumping?!

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Clearwater Beach, Florida, Gulf of Mexico #LoveFL

Make sure to make the short trip over to Clearwater Beach if your going to be around Tampa and St. Petersburg.

There is more to Clearwater Beach then just hanging on the sand and pier. Stay tuned for stories on some of the fun we had on the water that day.

What other beaches would you recommend checking out along the gulf coast of Florida?

An Early Morning Stroll Along Pass-a-Grille Beach.

The gulf coast in Florida, especially St. Pete Beach, is well-known for their beautiful sunsets. Waking up right after sunrise one summer morning, I found the area to be just as scenic during the early morning hours.

I approached Pass-a-Grille Beach and the historic district alongside near St. Pete Beach’s southern most point. Some small dunes were all that separated Gulf Way and myself from the sugar-soft sands and the Gulf of Mexico. It was time to walk the short wooden bridge and see more of the gulf with every step.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The early morning sun, some blue skies, a calmness to the water and not a sole around, I had this part of the beach all to myself.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Well almost! Some people were hanging out on the pier off in the distance and I hope that other person wasn’t taking a bath haha. ๐Ÿ™‚

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

It wouldn’t be a morning along the beach in these parts without a bunch of seaweed that washed ashore overnight.

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The romantic park bench was just hanging out waiting for someone to sit. A beautiful place to just hang out and stare off into the vast, turquoise waters of the gulf. The sun continued overhead, but off in the distance storm clouds were forming over the water. Just par for the course in Florida. ๐Ÿ™‚

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Who is that guy checking out the “Welcome To” sign? ๐Ÿ™‚

St. Pete Beach, Gulf of Mexico, Florida

Pass-a-Grille and this part of St. Pete Beach is off the beaten path, a mile or two south off the main highway. It’s a recommended stop. You’ll find shopping, ice cream, restaurants and fishing opportunities to go with the beach. Merry Pier is definitely worth a look.

Checkout the beauty of a St. Pete Beach area sunset. Are there any off the beaten path beach spots you would recommend along the Florida Gulf Coast?

St. Pete Beach: The Views, Cocktails & Seafood of Crabby Bills.

Crabby Bills Seafood in St. Pete Beach, Florida sits right along the beach and Gulf of Mexico. The up-top outside deck provides beautiful tropical views during the day and romantic sunsets each and every night. A rum runner or two and some Sea Scallops and Bairdi Snow Crab are the last pieces to the puzzle of a fun St. Pete Beach experience.

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

St. Pete Beach, Florida, tropical cocktail, Crabby Bills

St. Pete Beach, Florida, tropical cocktail, Crabby Bills

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, beach bar

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, scallops

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, king crab

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, sunset, Gulf of Mexico, beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, scallops

St. Pete Beach, Florida, Crabby Bills, seafood, king crab

Food-wise you aren’t looking at the same dishes more than once. ๐Ÿ™‚ The photos are from consecutive days. When you find great seafood why not order it again. The sides of choice are the Southern Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Crabby Bills has other locations in St. Cloud and nearby Clearwater, but how can beat the beauty of being alongside St. Pete Beach and the Gulf of Mexico?!

What delicious, scenic, outdoor dining fun have you had in your travels? Or around home?