Fishing has always been an important part of Gasparilla Island's cultural history. The Calusa tribe likely fished area waters for a living.
In the 1700s, Spanish fishermen arrived and established camps along the shore where fish were shipped to Cuba. In the 1800s, American settlers were attracted to Charlotte Harbor by its rich bounty of sea life.
By the 1900s, Gasparilla Island was seasonal host to many prominent sport anglers who fished for tarpon in Boca Grande Pass which became known as the Tarpon Capital of the World. The oldest structure on the island and one of the oldest in Lee County is the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, built in 1890 and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard until 1966.
After 20 years of abandonment, and a major renovation, the lighthouse was rededicated in 1986 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The state assumed ownership of the property opening it to the public as a state park in 1983.