Surprising Facts About Siesta Key, Lido Key and Longboat Key

Siesta Key, Longboat Key, and Lido Key are three neighboring barrier islands that separate Sarasota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. They are known for their soft white sand beaches and shallow Gulf waters, but there are plenty more fun facts to discover about these popular Sarasota, Florida vacation destinations.

Surprising Facts About Siesta Key Lido Key & Longboat Key Florida.

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. The word “key” comes from the Spanish word cayo which means “shoal” or “reef”.
  2. Longboat Key is Sarasota’s longest and most northerly barrier island with 12 miles of sandy coastline. It is a popular island for nesting turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs.
Longboat Key is Sarasota’s longest and most northerly barrier island with 12 miles of sandy coastline. It is a popular island for nesting turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs. #Sarasota #Florida #vacation #beach #LongboatKey

Longboat Key ~ Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. Lido Key was indirectly named by Sarasota resident John Ringling. A fan of Italian culture, he referred to the key’s beach as a lido which means “shore” in Italian. The name Lido Key stuck.
Lido Beach in Sarasota, Florida. Lido Key was indirectly named by Sarasota resident John Ringling. A fan of Italian culture, he referred to the key’s beach as a lido which means “shore” in Italian. The name Lido Key stuck.

Lido Key ~ Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. Siesta Key stretches for eight miles along the coast of Sarasota County but it covers just 2.4 square miles of land! Siesta Beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in the world.
    Siesta Key stretches for eight miles along the coast of Sarasota County but it covers just 2.4 square miles of land! Siesta Beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in the world.

    Siesta Beach ~ Photo credit Nita Ettinger

    Surprising Facts About Siesta Key, Lido Key, and Longboat Key Florida. Historic beach marker at Siesta Key Public Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida.

    Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. Lido Key is connected to the mainland via a causeway that includes the upscale shopping and dining area known as Armands Circle.

    Surprising Facts About Siesta Key, Lido Key and Longboat Key, Florida. | Lido Key is connected to the mainland via a causeway that includes the upscale shopping and dining area known as St. Armands Circle.

    Photo credit Chris L. Smith

  2. Ski-a-Rees have been performing free water-ski shows since 1957. See these world-class champions rehearse at their base on Lido Key. They currently hold the world record for their 10-man Around-the-Boat Boat O.
Ski-A-Rees have been performing free water-ski shows since 1957. See these world-class champions rehearse at their base on Lido Key.

Photo courtesy Ski-A-Rees

  1. The first cars were introduced to Lido Key in 1926. It was also the year that the Lido Beach Casino opened.
  2. Siesta Key Beach is the #1 beach in the USA, according to expert Steven Leatherman, aka Dr Beach.
Siesta Key stretches for eight miles along the coast of Sarasota County but it covers just 2.4 square miles of land! Siesta Beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in the world. #SiestaKey #beachvacation #Florida #SiestaBeach

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. The sand on Siesta Key really is brighter than elsewhere. The sand is like fine white sugar as it is made up of 99% quartz crystals that glitter and sparkle in the Florida sunshine.
The sand on Siesta Key really is brighter than elsewhere. The sand is like fine white sugar as it is made up of 99% quartz crystals that glitter and sparkle in the Florida sunshine.

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. The average temperature in Siesta Key is 62°F in February and 83°F in August.
  2. Siesta Key was originally named Little Sarasota Key, after Zara Zote, a Spanish or native American Indian word.
  3. In the late 19th century, Longboat Key was a farming community producing fruit, citrus, pineapples, and tomatoes. It remained an island until a bridge was built in 1929 connecting it to the island of St Armand’s.
  4. One of the main developers of Siesta Key was Harry Higel. He formed the Siesta Land Company in 1907, served as mayor of Sarasota in 1913, and was murdered in 1921 by an unknown assailant.
  5. The fine soft sand on Siesta Key remains cool even on the hottest summer day. The brightness reflects the light, whereas darker sand retains the sun’s heat.
Surprising Facts About Siesta Key, Lido Key, and Longboat Key, Florida. | The fine soft sand on Siesta Key remains cool even on the hottest summer day. The brightness reflects the light, whereas darker sand retains the sun’s heat.

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

  1. Longboat Key beaches retain a quiet and private atmosphere. That’s due to the limited public access as the coastline is bordered with private homes, condos, and resorts.
  2. Siesta Key population has grown steadily from 4,460 in 1970 to 6,565 today. It peaked in 1990 with 7,772 residents.
  3. Longboat Key had just 1000 residents in 1960, which has grown to 7,326 in 2016.
  4. Architect Mary Rockwell Hook bought 55 acres on Siesta Key in 1935 for $10,000. She developed the Sarasota School of Art and built an octagonal home for herself at Sandy Hook on Siesta Key.
  5. Longboat Key covers just over four square miles of land and straddles two counties: Manatee County to the north and Sarasota County to the south. It has an elevation of just 3 feet above sea level.
  6. Pirate Jean Lafitte was thought to have been shipwrecked near Longboat Key.
  7. In World War 2, Longboat Key had a bombing range and an airstrip used by B-26 planes.
  8. Siesta Key has not had a direct hit from a hurricane since the 1800s. Legend says the island was blessed by a Native American Chief and is protected.

So, three barrier islands and three neighboring communities. As you can see they all have something different to offer. Which one will you visit next?

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Nita Ettinger is the co-publisher for Siesta Publications and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed publications and the website MustDo.com. Must Do Visitor Guides are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County chambers of commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications are found.

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