Florida isn’t just about Disney and theme parks. The state’s Gulf Coast offers stunning beaches and a buzzing cultural scene. We pick out the highlights for property-hunters…

Head a couple of hours south-west of Orlando and the bright lights of Disney, and you hit Florida’s stunning Gulf Coast, home to sweeping, white sandy beaches, charming resorts and some of the USA’s most desirable coastal properties.

Gulf Coast resorts are especially popular with British and other foreign buyers looking for a second home to spend half the year, which will also let easily between their stays. The fantastic climate, unspoilt beaches and healthy outdoors lifestyle, often based mainly around sailing and water-based activities as well as the golf course, fuse seamlessly with the old-world charm and cultural attractions of the Gulf Coast’s resorts. Here’s a glimpse at the main spots, going from north to south, and what they offer.


Tampa Bay
Sailing mixed with coastal city living defines life around Tampa Bay, which includes the waterfront metropolises of Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater, the latter two being on a peninsula. Known as The Sunshine City, St Petersburg is home to North America’s third longest waterfront park, a blissful seven-mile zone for enjoying all types of outdoor leisure activities.

Popular areas for a lettable waterfront condo include Indian Rocks, St Pete Beach, Redington Shores, Madeira Beach, Gulfport and Treasure Island.

Sarasota and the Keys
A coastal city with a lively cultural and leisure scene, Sarasota’s most sought-after beach homes are spread along the string of islands, or keys, which are linked by road to the mainland.

The most famous of these is Siesta Key, voted America’s best beach on more than one occasion. Beachfront condos there start at around $500,000 but prices are less off the front and even cheaper if you cross the bridge back to the city. Anna Maria Island, home to a new condo development in the Harbour Isle community, will also appeal to buyers looking for a stunning, unspoilt waterfront lifestyle.

Cape Coral, Sanibel and Fort Myers
Cape Coral, with its 400 miles of interlinking canals, is a boat-owner’s paradise where waterfront living is par for the course. Next door is Fort Myers, which combines a lively downtown area, much of it currently the focus of regeneration, with great beaches. Prices for condos start at less than $200,000, but cross over to the nearby Sanibel Island, an old-world beach destination known for its shells, and prices rise thanks to its State Park status.

Naples and Bonita Springs
Naples is one of the most desirable retirement and second home destinations in Florida, arguably the USA – hence average income per capita there is one of the highest in the country as is the number of golf courses per capita!

The city includes a 10-mile strip of beachfront off of which are numerous beautifully manicured, low-rise gated communities – or country clubs – many with direct access to a lush fairway or sitting on a stunning waterfront plot with private mooring. The two Ritz-Carlton resorts set the tone for the city’s boutique leisure facilities, but for a livelier, more old-world feel, the downtown Naples has stunning traditional homes.

Bonita Springs is a newer area just north of Naples. Less exclusive and more affordable, it still has a large selection of golf communities, making it popular with retirees.

Written by Overseas Guides Company.

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