Exploring Charlotte Harbor
Charlotte Harbor covers more than five square miles, yet you can only walk along its shores in a handful of places. That’s thanks to the extensive mangrove forests that protect its fringes, which are protected by public lands like Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve, and Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve.
Long home to the indigenous Calusa, this large natural harbor intrigued Spanish explorers, with Juan Ponce De Leon purportedly landing on its shores not far from modern-day Punta Gorda.
With a wonderfully walkable downtown, Punta Gorda is one of the oldest communities directly along the harborfront. The barrier islands of Boca Grande, La Costa, and Pine Island sit where the harbor’s mingle with the Gulf of Mexico.
Ponce de Leon, it seems, was a short fellow. In Punta Gorda, Florida, you’ll find pint-sized statues, murals, and even the Fountain of Youth to recollect his 1513 visit to Charlotte Harbor.