Three keys with distinct personalities

Siesta, Casey and Manasota keys provide different means of relaxation

Siesta Key Beach pavilion
The Siesta Key Beach pavilion, one of many renovations with $21.6 million completed in 2016

The barrier islands of Sarasota County are a series of six keys that begin with Longboat Key to the north and stretch to the south where Manasota Key finishes the tour of the islands in the south. Longboat Key is a part of Manatee County too, only one of three municipalities in Florida that is split among two counties. There is movement to change county boundary lines so the entire island is in Sarasota County.

There is a seventh inhabited key that does not receive much attention. Tourists typically bypass Coon Key as it is a small plot of land between Lido and Bird keys. But residences of the area know it for its landmark building, the 25-story Plymouth Harbor with special services for aging retirees. Coon Key is also home of the Sarasota Yacht Club and a few resident communities on the north side of the island.

You might think that you would be able to drive from north to south without interruption but passage to Siesta Key from Longboat Key requires a trip through downtown Sarasota, by way of Lido, Coon and Bird keys. Our journey begins in Siesta Key for the three southern keys of Sarasota County.

Siesta Key, world famous for its white sand beaches that reflect the light with its 99 percent composition of quartz. Tourists love it because the sand is pleasurable on the feet, even on the warmest of summer days. Hundreds flock to the beach on Sunday nights to participate in the drum circles, a spontaneous group of drummers that are entertaining and fun to watch as dancers break out for further entertainment.

This uninhabited island in the 1800s went through a series of name changes originally referred to as Clam Island. It advanced to names such as Little Sarasota Island and Sarasota Key. It wasn’t until the year 1914 the name was changed to Siesta Key following the popularity of the Siesta Inn. A bridge to the mainland was constructed three years later, a second in 1927.

The beach was purchased by the county in 1954, setting the stage for large tourist spurts. The beach was comfortable and the sunsets were spectacular. In February of 2016 over $21 million of renovations revitalized the beach with more parking, concessions and lifeguard main station.

Today it continues as one of the top beaches in the world as anointed by groups designating the top tourist attractions. Siesta Beach is home to two sand sculpting competitions, The Siesta Key Crystal Classic for professionals from around the world the weekend of November 9 and the annual Siesta Sand Sculpture Contest each May. Beach volleyball is popular with some of the best competition tournaments in the country. It was a part of the USA National Beach Tour in July.

The town of Siesta Key flourishes as well with its festivals and occasional pub crawls. As famous as the beach is, tourists also visit Siesta Key for the nightlife in places such as Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Crescent Club, Daiquiri Deck and the Beach Club. The young scene is so popular that MTV created a reality show around it, appropriately named Siesta Key. More episodes were ordered by the network of this scandalous group of adults involved in their own set of love affairs.

Map showing Siesta Key, Casey Key and Manasota Key
Three keys of Sarasota, from Siesta to Manasota Key

Travel south on Midnight Pass Road from Siesta Key to encounter a land of high-profile luxury estates with a mix of historic landmark homes on Casey Key. An occasional cultural star from TV, movies and literature find the island relaxing for its segregation from the mainland. Like Longboat Key with its main road Gulf of Mexico Drive, Casey Key is fed by Casey Key Road. This eight-mile thoroughfare is lined with wonderful views, homes and trees that create a canopy of shade over the road pavement.

The northern part is reserved for the islanders while a few restaurants and hotels on the southern end attract tourists who visit for the beach bathing, fishing and dining. A wildlife sanctuary was created in 1970 through the Casey Key Conservation Act. Bird watching is particularly popular here on the key. The sphere of wildlife conservation continues on the mainland with the Oscar Sherer State Park and its 15 miles of nature trails. Accessible on the north end of Casey Key through Blackburn Point Road, this park has plenty of canoe water on South Creek and a lake shared by swimmers and fishermen. The much larger Myakka River State Park is further to the east. Venice to the south separates Casey Key from Manasota Key.

On the southern end of Casey Key take Albee Road West to 41 (South Tamiami Trail) and head south. Turn right to 776 where you will pick up Englewood Road, through a series of side roads to Manasota Beach Road and your final destination key in Sarasota County. Manasota Key Beach rests on the Gulf of Mexico at the end of the beach road. Manasota Key is north and south of this beach.

Manasota Key is home to the largest population of endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The island is splattered with homes in a relaxing atmosphere with a few quaint hotels for visitors who look for the enjoyment of a good sunset view. If your mood is to mingle with the locals then visit the White Elephant Pub or the Flounder’s Restaurant and Tiki Bar. The Stump Pass Beach State Park offers a relaxing nature hike on the south end of Manasota Key.

8220 Manasota Key Road
Englewood - 8220 Manasota Key Road

I have two listings on Manasota Key, one in which I previously presented in this series of articles located at 6155 Manasota Key Road. Just south of Manasota Key Beach is my newer listing at 8220 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. Offered at $2,095,000, this Gulf-front estate is in an ideal location, situated on more than a half-acre with 100 feet of direct beach frontage. It is waiting for you to appreciate it as is, renovate or begin your dream home with its four bedrooms and six full baths and over 4,100 square feet of truly wonderful living space. Captivating sunset views stretch on forever from the various tiled terraces and the west-facing guest residence.

I haven’t forgotten about Otter Key, an uninhabited island in Sarasota Bay southeast of St. Armands Circle. In 1959 the Arvida Corporation purchased the southern part of Longboat and Lido keys, and all of Bird, Coon and Otter keys from the Ringling estate. The Arvida Corporation went on to develop many of the prominent communities in that purchase but did not touch Otter Key, although its purpose was for single-family homes with an east-end park. It now serves the county as a natural area and nature center with plenty of wildlife to see.

See my new listings last week below, including one in downtown Sarasota overlooking the bay at the Savoy on Palm residences. There are two on Longboat Key, a single-family residence in Country Club Shores and a residence in the very special Grand Bay community. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
401 South Palm, #402 $2,295,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1055 Bogey Lane $899,000 Video Photo Slideshow
3080 Grand Bay Blvd, #515 $529,000   Photo Slideshow

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing