Crossing the one-lane swing bridge onto Casey Key, the distinctive character of this lush tropical island envelops you. A sense of past, present and future are woven together as you travel the island’s winding sole two-lane road. This diminutive key is truly “one-of- a- kind” among Florida’s barrier islands.
Casey Key continues to captivate the world’s most discerning connoisseurs with its breathtaking beauty. Nestled between Sarasota and Venice, residents are within easy access of cultural, culinary and sporting pursuits. The narrow island of Casey Key is one of Sarasota’s hidden gems, an isolated and exclusive enclave just off the sleepy mainland town of Nokomis.
With no traffic lights and less than 400 single family homes, residents feel as if they live on their own private island. The absence of expanding commercialism and high-rise condominiums greatly contributes to the island’s charm. In fact, over forty years ago the state of Florida, with “overwhelming support from the Casey Key property owners,” enacted the Casey Key Conservation Act, which designated most of the island to be a wildlife and marine sanctuary and prevents expansion of commercial business within the district. Wherever you go, this historic eight-mile sliver of land, at some points only a little more than 100 yards wide, provides endless glimpses of the surrounding waters.
The island is anchored on the south end by “North Jetty Park” with a historic bait shop, dispensing bait, beer and “fish tales” for over 60 years, and extraordinary jetties thrusting themselves over 600 feet into the clear sparkling Gulf waters. Since the 1930’s, these horizontal monoliths have protected the Venice Inlet and created great fishing, surfing and deep safe passage for offshore boaters returning to private and public moorings along Little Sarasota Bay, Dona Bay and Roberts Bay.
Over the years this tranquil island’s waterfront property, privacy and safety have attracted families, retired CEOs, entrepreneurs and celebrities, many of whom have built magnificent estates and luxurious homes discretely nestled in the seclusion of the natural tropical flora. Some of the more famous Casey Key homeowners have included Martina Navratilova, and best-selling author Stephen King, whose 2008 novel, “Duma Key,” has Casey Key as its setting.
Smaller, older homes are still found, amicably co-existing among the multi-million dollar neighbor estates. Local area families continue to be drawn to Casey Key, as well as families from distant locations, such as the United Kingdom and Canada.
The Treasure Island Bridge connects the mainland with the northern section of the key. Built in 1923, the bridge is one of the few “one-lane rotating swing bridges” still in use today. Residents love the historic old bridge, which occasionally slows traffic, but serves as a sentinel, reminding all that pass … life on the island is a special retreat.
Casey Key also offers easy access to dining and shopping in Venice, which is 10 minutes away, and the cultural mecca of Sarasota is a mere 15 miles north of the island. Access to I-75 is also just minutes from the island’s south bridge.
Part of what makes Casey Key appealing is what it doesn’t have: tall buildings, commercial development, lots of roads. The southern end of Casey Key has a half dozen mom-and-pop motels on the beach, two public beaches including a popular fishing jetty and a few casual restaurants. The northern end of the island ends with a private road and some exclusive homes.
Near the top of the island is the road east off the island, Blackburn Road, which is the site of a small waterfront park that offers a good put-in place for kayaks and power boats. One thing to love about Blackburn Road is the little one-lane swing bridge that takes you to the island. Its small capacity ensures that those passing through really want to be there because there is often a wait.
There are two public beaches on Casey Key and — parking is free. Make a note of looking at the pavilion at Nokomis Beach – it was built in the 1950s, designed by Jack West, of the renowned Sarasota School of Architecture. The Casey Key beach, which has coarse sand and mounds of broken shells, is one of the best places to hunt for prehistoric shark teeth in the Venice area. There are miles of beach to walk, with few people beyond the public Casey Key beaches.
As you enter the island you will find an Old Florida classic, Casey Key Fish House. Watch the boats arrive and enjoy the salty breezes from this favorite waterfront restaurant with excellent food, moderately priced and a laid back casual atmosphere. The dining room overlooks the bay and EVERY seat has a view of the water! At sunset, even the local birds flock to the docks as they scramble for the scraps of the night’s leftovers.
With 200 feet of deep water dockage, you can get to the restaurant by car or boat (Dockage Marker 32). Also, if you’re on the adventurous side, there are on-site rentals for jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks, fishing charters, and boat rentals too! The waterfront Tiki Bar hosts an eclectic group and is sure to provide fun for all with live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday – a truly unique and authentic waterfront Tiki Bar with it’s own sandy beach. It sits just feet from the historic Blackburn Point “swing bridge bay”.
Also nearby, Historic Spanish Point is an expansive outdoor archaeological and historic museum. The 30-acre outdoor museum also features a butterfly garden, pioneer cemetery, sunken gardens, footbridge, and exquisite views along Little Sarasota Bay. A few tips for getting the most out of your visit:
Allow plenty of time. Take a relaxing hour-long stroll, or spend a morning or afternoon exploring the entire site. We recommend bringing a camera to capture all the beautiful surrounding during your visit.
Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. Our site is a combination of sun and shade; a hat and sunscreen is always a good idea outdoors.
Consider taking a tour. Our docent-led tours are designed to help you explore and discover the rich history of the site. Tour information is available below.