There is an old saying, “If you are lucky enough to live by the sea, you are lucky enough.” With so many choices Tampa Bay's waterfront properties can easily overwhelm a buyer, continuing our series of 'Tampa Bay Communities', today we focus on a quiet, little-known area in St. Petersburg known as Vina del Mar. Shadowed by ‘The Don’ and bordered by Little McPherson Bayou and Pass-A-Grille Channel in Boca Ciega Bay it's easy to miss the single arcing bridge off Pass-a-Grille Way to this quaint community.
Originally known as Mud Key, the island was purchased in 1945 from the town of Pass-A-Grille by Edward D. Tessier for the tidy sum of $4,000 and renamed Vina del Mar. Tucked between Pass-A-Grille Beach and the mouth of Bird Key’s Pinellas Bay Way, this charming community offers exquisite views, energizing sunrises, and spectacular sunsets from a truly premium location in St. Petersburg. On the West side of the island, waterfront homes overlooking the historic Don CeSar Resort catch the elegantly lit Don against colorful sunsets, while on the East side of Vina Del Mar homes have an unobstructed view of sunrise across Bird Key. Like many beautifully developed communities, Davis Islands in Tampa comes to mind, they did not start out as we see them today. Vina del Mar was once nothing more than a coral reef, mangroves, and mostly submerged. It was 1953 when developer Robert E. Lee began dredging to fill the land. The 21st Avenue bridge was built in 1954 by Hardee Construction, the same year Mr.Tessier died. One can only imagine what he would think of his "Vineyard of the Sea" today.
Boaters will appreciate the number of places nearby to 'dock and dine' and the island's direct no-bridge access to the Gulf of Mexico. Vina del Mar is minutes from Downtown St. Petersburg where hidden gems like Fish Tales wait or you could easily cruise over to Fort De Soto Park (home to the #1 Beach in the country), south to Shell Island and historic Egmont Key , the possibilities are endless. Pass A Grille Beach and the Gulf are moments away by boat and car when you reside on the island of Vina Del Mar.
Pass-A-Grille Beach offers numerous places to dine from the extravagant restaurants of Loews Don Cesar to one of our favorites, The Wharf Restaurant & Bar. Snuggled at the foot of the 21st avenue bridge to Vina del Mar, The Wharf has been swinging its windows and doors open to serve the fresh oysters and seafood to those in the know for decades. You won’t find any frills here, including A/C, but you will find great food and great views of dolphins feeding in the channel between the dock and Vina del Mar. Sea Critters is nearby, Maritana Grille and the Undertow Beach Bar, Sea Porch Café , Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club , The St. Petersburg Yacht Club and so much more.
Minutes away Fort De Soto Park, John's Pass Village, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Pete Beach, Tampa Bay Rays baseball, St. Petersburg’s acclaimed waterfront restaurants, shopping and bars, The Historic Vinoy Park and The Vinoy Renaissance - St. Petersburg, the Salvador Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the many spectacular events like First Night St Petersburg, The Original Tampa Bay Blues Festival and more.
In the 1960s when development on Vina del Mar flourished, 100 x 120 lots were going for $3,650! Today homes on the island average $650K where the median age is 55. Homes are meticulously kept on this lush tropical island in paradise with its own park. The park sits on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Russell Hughes, the Vina del Mar Play Park boasts a pavilion, restrooms and play areas for kids ages 3-5 and 5-12. It serves as the hub for family and residential activities on the island including BBQ's, Easter egg hunts and more. Designated public schools for this prime neighborhood include Azalea Elementary, Azalea Middle School, and Boca Ciega High School. Eckerd College, USF, and St. Petersburg College are also close.
Thanks to Sally Yoder for much of the history in this article. To read more about the interesting history of the island, and learn about upcoming events, check out Sally's blog post and additional photos from the Vina del Mar Island Association.
Currently available home (yellow), asking $898K
To see available properties on the island we recommend connecting with a certified Luxury Real Estate Concierge, and one of the best in Tampa Bay is Lynn Richey of Richey Homes. Famous for her '3-hour tours' Lynn gives clients the information and experience they need to make an informed decision. With Lynn, you win! Call her today to see available homes in this exclusive island neighborhood on Boca Ciega Bay, Vina del Mar.