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Bonita Springs is located on the Southwest coast of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico and encompasses 34 square miles. “Bonita Springs” translates as “beautiful springs” and is fondly called the “Gateway to the Gulf.” Its rich history of human habitation goes back possibly 8,000 years according to recent discoveries.

Fast forwarding ahead of pre-historic man, however, Calusa Native Americans were the most noted early inhabitants until the Spanish conquistadors landed in 1539 in search of the “Fountain of Youth”. Ponce de Leon was among that group and fought one too many battles with the Indians eventually dying from the wounds incurred from a poisoned arrow. The Calusas were eventually decimated by European diseases and slave trading. The few Calusa survivors took refuge in the Florida Keys and merged with the Seminole tribes.

Government surveyors pitched camp near a medicinal spring in the 1870’s. The local Native Americans believed bathing in this spring could heal the sick. The site became know as “Survey” and the stream running from it, “Surveyor's Creek.”

In the late 1880's, Braxton B. Comer bought 6000 acres of land around Survey and brought in 50 African-American families from Alabama, mules and equipment to work a large plantation focused on pineapples, bananas, and coconuts. From a few scattered homesteads, Survey would eventually grow into a bonafide community with a small, log-walled, thatched-roof school founded in 1887. Then came some tourism commerce in 1910 -- the two-story Eagle Hotel opened up catering to adventure loving visitors who had heard of this region’s unspoiled and very bountiful hunting and fishing.

Then came a Tennessee fellow by the last name of Ragsdale who in 1912 purchased 2400 acres around Survey. He and his associate, Dan Farnsworth, surveyed the area and plotted a small town with streets and avenues. The developers decided the name, Survey, sounded a bit too boring for marketing purposes, so the town was renamed Bonita Springs, in honor of those medicinal springs mentioned earlier, and, in concert with that, Surveyor's Creek was given a jazzy new name as well  -- Imperial River.

Another land boom then took place in the early 1920’s heralded by Barron Collier. He had extended his Fort Myers-Southern Railroad and his new Tamiami (Tampa to Miami) Trail to include Bonita Springs. An additional name disappeared when Fiddler Ville, so called for its millions of tiny fiddler crabs, became Bonita Beach, today as in the past, an impressive expanse of beautiful white sands along crystalline waters.

Still it wouldn’t be until the 1970's that Bonita Springs started to grow into its' own community and gain fame as a vacation and second home destinaton. Its' current population is estimated at just over 40,000 and is one of SW Florida’s fasting growing communities.

It has a diverse population of retirees, middle-income families, migrant workers and the very wealthy. Today it flourishes with shopping malls, impressive golf courses including those owned by the Bonita Bay Group, restaurants and lots of office facilities.   


Today Bonita Springs is an impressive community with top-notch golf courses, great shopping, and beautiful beaches. The Bonita Bay community is dominant here, but so are other major developers. Bonita Beach is flanked with laid-back beach homes and the strip toward Lover’s Key and Fort Myers is especially beautiful. Bonita is a vacation destination with fun restaurants, and homes and condos of all sizes. In many ways, Bonita Springs and Estero, though in a neighboring county, is linked real estate-wise to Naples (Collier County). More so than that of their neighbor to the north of Ft. Myers which is much more of a “big city” atmosphere. Bonita is very close to the airport which is a draw to the community.

For more information on Bonita Springs, please click on the link below or enter it into your address browser:


Don’t miss our other tourist sites: www.NaplesTouristCenter.com, www.MarcoTouristCenter.com, www.EsteroTouristCenter.com

---This article complied by Christy Sanford and Marlene Graham---


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