Local Boca Grande Lingo
Newcomers to Boca Grande are bound, in the course of their travels about the island, to hear some words and expressions that seem unusual, odd or amusing. Here are some of the more common terms you might run across; try running some of these off your tongue.
Off Island is where people go when they leave Gasparilla Island for a few minutes, a day or a year, as in, “He’s off island this week.”
Boca Nuts are hand painted coconuts painted by a local artist which can be found in an island art gallery. It’s almost impossible to visit the Boca Grande area without taking back some prized Boca Nuts as gifts for friends and family.
Boca time, interchangeable with island time, is how fast time goes by in Boca Grande.
Art Sharks is a term coined by the Boca Grande Art Alliance referring to artistic island youngsters who take part in art classes, etc.
The range light is the tall, slender lighthouse just south of downtown Boca Grande. This term is used to differentiate it from the historic lighthouse at the extreme southern tip of the island.
The public dock, a facility consisting of five boat slips located at the end of Fifth Street in Boca Grande Bayou.
The south end means the southern tip of Gasparilla Island.
The following terms are verbal shorthand for some places (as in restaurants, businesses, etc.) on the island. Using these terms will make you sound like a Boca Grande local for sure.
Boca Grande Restaurant Lingo
As is generally the case with locally known dining areas, the best places generally get shortened to a one word, one syllable phrase that shows you know how good it really is. These are four of the places you need to know about, and how to tell people where to go in Boca Grande:
The Gasparilla Inn is almost always just The Inn.
Hudson’s is the local grocery store.
The Rec Center is used interchangeably with the Community Center, the full name of which is the Boca Grande Community Center.
The Beacon is what locals call the Boca Beacon, the island’s newspaper.
If you hear someone say they live on Damficare, Damfiwill or Damfino Street, they truly do. They are bona fide streets just southeast of downtown Boca Grande.
Gasparilla Island is a wildlife sanctuary; islanders cherish the wildlife and urge all visitors to familiarize themselves with our wildlife and to help preserve the environment while enjoying its unique features. Here are some tips and some dos and don’ts.
“Turtle Season” is May 1st – October 31st – Each year loggerhead sea turtles come ashore here to lay their eggs on the beach. Observe and respect marked nests; it is against the law to disturb this threatened species. There are rules against open lights on the beach and leaving beach stuff on the beach, over night during turtle season. Please remember that these beautiful sea turtles are rare, and unique to the Boca Grande community. They are a big part of what makes our island wonderful, and we would like to be able to share the sea turtle experience with future generations.
Iguanas have become established on Gasparilla Island. They are easily spotted at times, especially along the bike path south of town. These are spiny black tailed iguanas, which are omnivores. These are not pet store variety iguanas; they bite. Please don’t try to take them home as pets.
Shelling is a favorite pastime here. Be aware of rules regarding the taking of live shells; please observe them. It is not widely broadcast, but the shelling in Boca Grande rivals some of the more promoted areas.
Sand dunes are an important part of coastal ecology. Try not to walk on them; use dune crossovers. Do not pick vegetation growing on the dunes; plants hold the dunes in place. It is even illegal to pick or disturb some plants, such as sea oats.
Many sea and shore birds frequent our beaches and waterways. It is tempting to feed them, but please don’t. They not only can get sick by our junk food; they can become dependent upon humans as a source for food, lessening their natural ability to hunt and catch their own food. Nobody is interested in bird watching in Boca Grande if all the birds are too sick or unable to lift themselves off the ground.
Gopher tortoises are land dwelling turtles, which live in dry uplands. They are common here and can be observed ambling about. They are protected species and may not be disturbed, handled or moved without a permit.
Boca Grande birds such as pelicans and herons get tangled in fishing line and six-pack rings and die slow deaths from starvation. Those same items wrap around the fins of dolphins and manatees causing deep wounds and even death. Manatees, dolphins and sea turtles can ingest plastic bags, which also cause death.
Manatees, huge and gentle aquatic mammals frequent shallow near and inshore waters, and can be viewed readily. A prime cause for their decline is careless boating. Boaters: Observe all manatee speed zones; and don’t tear up the grass flats – these are prime feeding zones for this unique marine mammal. Boca Grande loves the Manatees; help us keep them safe and populated.
Southwest Florida’s fishing is unequalled, particularly fishing in Boca Grande is unequalled. There are rules and regulations governing the taking of most species of fish in our waters. Become aware of our state rules and print out the current regulations online. Local fishing guides are well versed on the current rules associated with fishing legally. Enforcement of fishing regulations can be harsh, so pay attention to rules.