The year was 1848. John LeVique, a French pirate, had since given up his pillaging ways and gotten involved in the turtle trade. The reformed scallywag was en-route to his hideout on Madiera Beach, where he had stashed his treasure, when a hurricane hit.
The ravaging storm sliced the island in two. Devastated, he realized that his treasure had been swept into the sea, never to be seen again. However, the newly open water created a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and the intracoastal waterway. The retired pirate was the first person to sail through what is now aptly known as John’s Pass.
Today, John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is located between Clearwater and St. Pete Beach . From a picturesque boardwalk to a three-day sea battle, there’s plenty for visitors to see and do. Here are 8 of our favourite ways to spend an afternoon at John’s Pass:
1. Stroll the boardwalk
The 300-metre boardwalk is probably the area’s biggest draw. Yielding stunning views across the Gulf of Mexico, it is a romantic destination for hand-holding couples, although families and friends are often seen strolling together.
2. Get on the water
Flickr.com/Michel Curi (CC by 2.0)
Whether it’s on a fishing boat, a wildlife-watching tour, a jet-ski or a stand-up paddleboard, enjoying John’s Pass from the water is the ideal way to explore the area.
3. Go birding
Bring the binoculars to spot great egrets and American oystercatchers. You’ll often see brown pelicans perched on the dock.
4. Go dolphin watching
There’s a plethora of fish that call John’s Pass home. Dolphin-watching cruises departing from John’s Pass bring you to Boca Ciega Bay, where bottle-nosed dolphins can be found surfing the waves.
5. Shop & dine
Flickr.com/Michel Curi (CC by 2.0; colour edits)
From surf apparel to homemade ice cream and mini donuts, the shops along the wharf stock something for all ages. There is an array of local souvenirs and restaurants serving up the freshest fish possible.
6. Rub elbows with scallywags
Throughout the year, visitors will find spirited boardwalk events paying homage to pirate-founder John LeVique. Kids - and the young at heart - will love the playful pirate hubbub. Snap a photo and learn a bit more about John's Pass' notorious scallyway history.
7. Visit John’s Pass Seafood Festival
Held on the last full weekend of October, this tasty festival is the largest of its kind in Florida. Visitors will find non-stop live entertainment, delicious seafood and kid-friendly zones. Now in its 36th year, admission is free (as it has always been). Keep updated at Facebook.com/JohnsPassSeafoodFestival
8. Hit the beach
Flickr.com/Nick Ares (CC by SA-2.0; colour edits)
John’s Pass is right across from a white sandy beach. Once you’ve explored the shops and restaurants, take a well-deserved break on the beach.