The West Coast is a region, and one of the main coastal areas, of Florida.
|Big Bend Coast |
Includes the Nature Coast in the north, and Homosassa Springs and Tampa's extreme northern suburbs in the south. The coast is swamp.
|Tampa Bay Area |
The heavily urbanized portion of the West Coast surrounding the Tampa Bay, with beautiful beaches in Pinellas County and Anna Maria.
|Southwest Florida |
Several upscale towns including Naples and some of the state's most beautiful beaches, ending with Marco Island and the Everglades in the south.
- 1 Bradenton
- 2 Clearwater
- 3 Crystal River
- 4 Fort Myers - Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel and the exotic beaches of Captiva Islands.
- 5 Naples - Enjoy the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, world class shopping, golf courses and the nearby untamed tropical wilderness of The Everglades.
- 6 St. Pete Beach
- 7 St. Petersburg across the bay from Tampa
- 8 Tampa – the largest city in the region
- 1 Anna Maria Island
- 2 Big Cypress National Preserve
- 3 Captiva Island
- 4 Cedar Key
- 5 Everglades National Park
- 6 Little Gasparilla Island
- 7 Myakka River State Park
- 8 Sanibel Island
- 9 Siesta Key
Most of the West Coast's tourist appeal and population is concentrated in the densely populated coastline from Marco Island in the south to the Tampa Bay Area in the north. At the southern end of this region is the Everglades, a virtually uninhabited wetland region at the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula. At the northern end are wetlands extending to the beginning of the Florida Panhandle. In between is a region of beautiful shorelines and barrier islands with spectacular beaches, and overall economic prosperity and a high standard of living. There are a number of towns and cities named after European tourist destinations, such as Venice, Naples, and St. Petersburg, while the inland towns have more ordinary names and characteristics more like those of Florida's inland counties, such as Brandon and Bradenton.
As in much of Florida, tourism is at the center of the economy, precipitating the transition in Florida's economic prosperity from the agricultural interior to the tourist coastlines. While the East Coast is longer and has a more varied level of tourist appeal, towns in the West (at least on the barrier islands) have fewer other features such as government (NASA) or sports (Daytona Speedway) found on the other coast. However, the northern Big Bend Coast is far more rural than the rest of the West Coast region, with less tourism due to its lack of beaches.
Climate is varied from north to south along the coast. While all of the coast has hot, humid, and tropical summers, winters vary depending on latitude. The southern latitudes near Marco Island are semitropical or tropical year-round, with temperatures typically mild or warm during the winter, having a rainforest or savanna climate. However, even the southern latitudes are not as tropical as equatorial regions. The northern latitudes have a temperate climate with continental influences; winters are variable but particularly near the Panhandle, some winter days are cold.
The region has a smaller Hispanic/Latino population than some parts of the state, such as the Inland and Miami regions, and is mostly white. There is a larger Black community in Tampa, the region's main city, and a Greek community in Tarpon Springs, a suburb north of St. Petersburg. The Big Bend Coast and Southwest are conservative, while Tampa and St. Petersburg (and many of their suburbs) are politically moderate.
Public transportation in the Tampa Bay Area:
- Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) operates public transportation in and around Tampa and the surrounding areas of Hillsborough County.
- Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) serves the south Bay areas of Bradenton, W Bradenton, Palmetto, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key in Manatee County. They also operate inter-county, cross bay service from St Petersburg (Rt #203) and down to Sarasota via US Hwy 41 (Rt #99).
- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) operates public transportation in and around St Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater. They also operate inter-county, cross bay service from St Petersburg to Tampa (Rt #100, 300) and to Bradenton via Palmetto (Rt #203).
Public Transportation in Southwest Florida:
- Charlotte County Transit, ☏ . Charlotte County Transit is a shared ride curb-to-curb transit service provided to the general public throughout Charlotte County. Service area consists of all of Charlotte County and includes the Charlotte County portion of Englewood, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and the surrounding areas; including Lake Suzy area in Desoto County. Reservations required for pick-up no fixed route services.
- Collier Area Transit (CAT). is public transportation for Naples, Immokalee, Marco Island and Golden Gate City (Santa Barbara) in Collier County. They also offer connections to LeeTran in Coconut Mall in Lee County via their 'LINC' (R 600) route from Creekside Transfer Center.
- Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT). - Public Transportation in Sarasota and the surrounding areas of Sarasota County. They also operate an intercounty bus service (Rt #99) up to Bradenton from downtown Sarasota (1st & Lemon Station) along US Hwy 41 via airport.
- Lee Tran. operates local bus service between Fort Myers, Ft Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Pine Island (Rt #600) and Lehigh Acres in Lee County.
People come to this region for the beaches, which are on the barrier islands off the coast. Most coastal cities have bridges to the beach towns on the barrier islands, where tourism, population density, and economy are concentrated. The beaches are wide due to the lack of terrain, and therefore are not crowded easily as they are plentiful along the coast, with many barrier islands having beaches that continue for several miles.
- Ride the tallest roller coasters in Florida at Busch Gardens in Tampa