This invasion was a lot more successful than the ill-fated Bay of Pigs debacle once launched from Useppa Island, which served as a training ground for the 1961 CIA attempt to overthrow Cuba Dictator Fidel Castro.
Privately held Useppa Island briefly embraced roughly 70 people who arrived for a leisurely three-hour visit on the Jan. 26 Boca Grande Historical Society tour aboard the Lady Chadwick.
Travelers from Gasparilla Island basked in sunshine the entire 55-minute trip to and from the island accessible only by invitation or habitation.
Two of the five dolphins leaping alongside the Lady Chadwick.
Kimberly Kyle, director of the BGHS, has arranged this tour for five years in a row. The weather hasn't always been as beautiful in previous years.
"I can't take credit for the weather," Kyle said with a laugh. "But we spend months arranging this tour."
Historian George Luer pointed out tarpon fishing and Barron Collier's inns will forever link Useppa and Gasparilla islands. Collier bought the Gasparilla Inn & Club for $150,000 in 1930 just nine years before his death and Collier Inn on Useppa Island still bears his name.
Only 125 homes have been built on Useppa and all use names instead of addresses. A cracked pink concrete sidewalk runs nearly the length of the gorgeous 1-mile long island and pedestrians quickly learn to watch for golf carts zipping along as much as 3 mph over the 9-mph speed limit. Carts are the only form of motorized transportation allowed on Useppa besides boats.
Known as a luxury resort destination for the past two centuries, Useppa has been torn apart by hurricanes more than once, the last when Hurricane Charley damaged 95 percent of all island buildings in 2004.
Two major island attractions drew the interest of the tourists from Boca: The Barbara Sumwalt Museum and the storied Collier Inn, which reopened one year to the day after the Aug. 13, 2004, hurricane ransacked it for at least the fifth time in its stormy history.
Collier Inn retains its considerable charm today as islanders discovered during a lunch of conch fritters, Asian mandarin salad, curried chicken, blackened mahi-mahi, yellow rice and beans and Key Lime tartlets.
The return ride featured a wine tasting of South African vintages poured by Shan Tilly of Terry Seitz Inc. Whites included a Morgenhof Brut Estates Reserve and a Fantail Sauvignon Blanc. The impressive reds included a Bolland Cellars Cappupino Cinotage and an outstanding Camberly Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, all at P.J.'s Seagrille.
The island remains much the same as in the days of former Useppa Island owner Barron Collier, who bought the island for $100,000 in 1911, which brought his Florida land holdings to 1 million acres. Only the multimillion-dollar homes are different, much like Boca Grande.
At one point, Useppa Island was 60 miles inland but it became an island 7,000 years ago. It's been inhabited for nearly 10,000 years but has only been exclusive for the last 50.