Davis Islands is a dream community for those who want to bask in Florida’s sunkissed coast while nestled in the lap of southern luxury. Situated in Hillsborough County, this man-made archipelago has its fair share of celebrity residents, such as Derek Jeter and Tom Brady. Davis Islands is regarded as one of the most desirable communities to live in not only in Tampa, but also throughout the Sunshine State.
Built upon two man-made islands that sit on top of two small natural islands originally named the Big Grassy Key and Little Grassy Key, Davis Islands is best known as a waterfront haven that changed the coast of Tampa City forever. Over 11 miles of Davis Island real estate can be found in this 875-acre suburb, with many of the homes having direct waterfront access.
Modern conveniences and entertainment are also easily accessible which makes Davis Islands homes for sale very desirable. The museums, arenas, parks, restaurants, and shopping districts of downtown Tampa are just a short drive away. Traveling to and from the city is easy with two airports in the area, the Peter O. Knight Airport and Tampa International Airport. Numerous private and public marinas also dot the bayfront.
THE INTRIGUING HISTORY OF OF DAVIS ISLANDS
It might be hard to imagine that the Davis Islands of today were just once three small grassy islands, but it’s even harder to imagine the intriguing history behind its development. The history of Davis Islands has all the elements of a good Hollywood movie – mystery, machinations, and millionaires.
In the 1920s, the Big Grassy Key and Little Grassy Key were spoil islands formed by the Hillsborough River as it spilled onto the bay. These islands were pretty much abandoned and an eyesore compared to the opulent homes that line Tampa Bay. No one could have imagined that it would soon be a crown jewel of a community, except for the real estate developer after whom the islands would be named.
That was Tampa real estate mogul D.P. Davis, who envisioned a resort community with its own airport, swimming pools, hotels, restaurants, and golf courses. Even as Davis faced opposition from the surrounding communities, he was able to purchase the islands and began to dredge the bay to create the archipelago that would be the foundation for his lavish community. Davis moved mountains, as well as the city radio station and the general hospital, to make his dream a reality.
The developer wanted to build the Florida version of “The Great Gatsby” and no expense was spared in building the homes and its key establishments. A canal was created and joined two of the three original islands to make way for the Peter O. Knight Airport. From its palm-lined boulevards to its yacht basins, Davis Islands was set to become the premier neighborhood south of the city.
It didn’t take a long time for Davis Islands real estate to be scooped up by celebrities, jetsetters, and millionaires. However, a severe downturn in the economy brought a halt to the Florida land boom and put the brakes on the real estate development in the islands. Davis was plagued by financial problems and mysteriously disappeared during a transatlantic journey to Europe. He was declared to be lost at sea and his disappearance is still a mystery to this day.
Today, Davis Islands is as much admired by travelers and property-seekers for the beauty of its natural surroundings as much as the opulence of its real estate. It helps that there are a plethora of exciting things to do nearby. Clearly, Davis Islands earned its reputation as one of the top places to live in the state of Florida.
If you want to know more about the things you can enjoy close to Davis Islands real estate, read on:
DAVIS ISLANDS: WHAT TO SEE AND DO
The Tampa Riverwalk has some of the most popular destinations in the city. This scenic promenade stretches 2.6 miles and is among the top 15 river walks in the United States. Nestled along the Hillsborough River, it’s popular for a host of reasons. People here like to walk, jog, or ride their bikes. The cuisine of the bay area is another come-on, thanks to the numerous food trucks, cafes, and restaurants that dot the promenade.
This waterfront path is also the perfect starting point to enjoy all that downtown Tampa has to offer, such as:
- Amalie Arena. Located in downtown Tampa, this sports and entertainment complex is home to Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. Whether you prefer a riveting hockey match or live performances of international superstars, Amalie Arena offers an array of events to keep everyone entertained. The Diamond Crown Lounge offers a VIP experience with a humidor, elegant bar, and views of the action in the arena.
- Florida Aquarium. Start your aquatic and terrestrial adventure at one of the best aquariums in the world – the 200,000-square-foot, air conditioned Florida Aquarium. Housing more than 8,000 species, the facility recreates a collection of habitats including a Wetlands Trail featuring mangroves and an aviary, a 500,000-gallon Coral Reef habitat, a Madagascar exhibit with lemurs and hissing cockroaches, a South African Penguin Habitat, and so much more. Kids can also enjoy the splash pads in the outdoor plaza, and the family can check out the harbor views from the rooftop.
- Tampa Bay History Center. Travel back to the early days of the bay area in this Smithsonian affiliate museum. As one of the city’s premier cultural destinations, this is a must-see for history buffs. The center’s exhibits span 12,000 years of Florida history, from the indigenous first peoples to the Cuban cigar heyday of Ybor City.
- Tampa Museum of Art. With its polished stone floors, translucent ceilings, and shimmering aluminum exterior, the Tampa Museum of Art is a sight to behold on its own. The 66,000-square-foot space houses a permanent collection of ancient, modern, and contemporary art, including current exhibitions like retrospectives, private collections, and decorative arts. The museum also offers art classes for kids and adults.
Davis Island Yacht Club
The Davis Island Yacht Club is known throughout the world for holding international sailing events. This private and member-owned marina has hosted the World Championship Regatta, Labor Day Night Race, and the Commodore’s Cup. The club also presents the Egmont Key Race, which started in 1935 and is the oldest running sailboat race on Florida’s west coast.
In addition to its packed schedule of sailing events, the club also accommodates a youth sailing organization. Kids can join Learn-to-Sail camps or the club’s nationally recognized club race teams. Adults can sign up for weekend overnight cruises to the nearby Fantasy Island and enjoy cocktails and dinner onboard or join an occasional luau on shore!
Members can invite guests to enjoy the club’s leisure amenities. From the location at the south end of the islands, there are incomparable views of breathtaking sunsets and Hillsborough Bay to take in. Brunch in the dining room means being surrounded by the dining room’s massive wrap-around windows, while porches are a great place to catch the breeze.
You and your guest can also take a dip in the swimming pool, after which drinks await at the Regatta Bar, the site of celebrations following parasailing events.
Davis Island Dog Beach
Ready for a day out with your loyal canine friend? Davis Island Dog Beach is the only beach in the vicinity that allows dogs to roam off-leash. Fur parents and their dogs will definitely have an amazing day frolicking on the shallow sand bar that hugs the turquoise waters. There are picnic tables and plenty of space to lay out towels for lounging under sunny skies.
Davis Islands’ architectural marvels
The Mediterranean Revival style was highly popular across southern Florida during the 1920s real estate boom, and its influence is also reflected on the historic buildings of Davis Islands. Strolling the streets will transport you to the Mediterranean Coast, as houses boast of ornate Spanish, French, Italian, and Byzantine features. Buyers will also be inspired by the baroque details of entryways, cornices, and balconies of some of the available homes for sale.
You’ll also notice the clay barrel tile roofs, earth-colored stucco walls, and manicured courtyards with fountains. Some of the most famous Davis Islands real estate properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the multi-million dollar homes on Blanca Avenue and Ladoga Avenue, including the Francis Gannon house, the James D. Barrett villa, and the Roy Martin residence.
Even the apartment buildings have their own unique style as they were originally built as major hotels. The Villa De Leon apartment was erected in 1925. One of the most romantic properties on the island, the Palace of Florence, is a tribute to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and was designed by the city’s most celebrated architect, Leo Elliott.
However, Davis Islands is just as well known for the sleek, spectacular homes of celebrities such as sports legends Derek Jeter and Tom Brady.
What sets Davis Islands apart from other communities is its direct access to the bay. Most of the properties here have their own covered boat ramps and expansive backyards with astounding port views. Residents can lounge in patios located by the water or take their boats for a relaxing spin around the bay.
Davis Islands dining and shopping
Davis Boulevard, which runs across the length of the island, is where most of the action is.
220 East Restaurant and Bar is the go-to for bottomless cocktails and Prince Edward Isle mussels, while Thai Island Restaurantoffers dishes like soft-shell crab and snapper filet paired with sizzling curry. Other highly rated dining spots along the boulevard are Oggi Italian, Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, and Farrell’s on the Island.
For essentials, you can head out to Duckweed Urban Grocery, The Market at Harbour Place, or The Island Shoppe. For some serious shopping, take a short drive to the International Plaza and Bay Street, the Channelside Bay Plaza, and WestShore Plaza.
Davis Island community events and festivals
- Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. One of the most-awaited yearly extravaganzas in the city often starts at Davis Islands. Every December, dozens of boats in festive decorations take part in the largest lighted boat parade in Tampa. The coast is bathed in dazzling lights as the parade kicks off at the southern tip of Davis Islands and travels all the way to Sparkman Wharf. At the end of the parade, winners of the motorboat and sailboat competitions are announced and the celebration continues throughout the night.
- Gasparilla Invasion. Beware landlubbers as pirates set sail for Tampa during the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest! The festival is a reenactment of the historic pirate invasion of Tampa with the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar at its helm. Bursts of cannon fire fill the air as the only fully-rigged pirate ship in the world makes its way through Hillsborough Bay into the Seddon Channel. The pirate ship is followed by a colorful flotilla made up of hundreds of boats, a truly unforgettable spectacle. After the Key to the City is surrendered, onlookers can join the Parade of Pirates as they go on a victory march down Bayshore Boulevard, the world’s longest sidewalk. In 2024, the fest is scheduled on January 27.
- Sporting events. Tampa’s bay area is a mecca for sports lovers. The Raymond James Stadium is home to Superbowl champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hockey fans can watch Stanley Cup champions, Tampa Bay Lightning, at Amalie Arena. Major league baseball aficionados can catch the Tampa Bay Rays in action. Don’t forget that Davis Islands is also the center for international sailing events, with thrilling regattas happening all year round at the Davis Islands Yacht Club.
There isn’t a boring day in sight when you live on Davis Islands. Aside from the crowd favorites listed above, there are hundreds more events and festivals happening in and around the area. There are heritage festivals where one can learn about Latino culture while enjoying amazing music and authentic dishes. Those who are searching for something magical can join the medieval fairs and Renaissance festivals in nearby counties.
BUYING OR SELLING A DAVIS ISLAND HOME
Davis Islands has a population of approximately 21,000, with long-time residents making up more than half of this number. More than 7,000 people have moved to the area in recent years, proving that Davis Islands real estate remains one of the most popular investments in Florida.
There are a multitude of reasons why people choose to make Davis Islands their home:
- Some homeowners chose to live in the islands because of the old-world Florida charm that is rare to find nowadays.
- Others fall in love with the sprawling mansions filled with the finest features bayfront living has to offer.
- Most residents stay because of the natural beauty of the coast and the plethora of outdoor activities they can choose to engage in day after day.
Living in Davis Islands is truly a unique experience. It offers southern Florida’s coastal beauty and the topnotch amenities found only in the most luxurious communities. If you’re ready to dive into everything Davis Islands has to offer, you need a real estate expert that can help you navigate through the many beautiful properties available in the area.
Should you want to sell your home on Davis Islands, a real estate expert is just as important. They’ll help you price your home competitively, market your property to qualified buyers, negotiate on your behalf, and look after your best interests.
Dania Perry is your top Realtor in Davis Islands and Tampa Bay
If you’re looking to buy or sell property in Davis Islands, then you need the expertise of a foremost Realtor with extensive local knowledge. and the experience to make the buying process as efficient as possible.
Dania Perry has been helping people achieve their real estate goals in the Tampa Bay area since 2006. She is regarded as the #1 Selling CENTURY 21 Real Estate Agent in the world and is the #1 Selling Individual Real Estate Agent in Tampa Bay. The winning combination of solid real estate experience and commitment to clients make Dania the only Realtor you’ll need in buying or selling a coveted Davis Islands property.
Dania has successfully negotiated hundreds of Fortune 500 real estate deals and contracts. By using industry-leading, data-driven real estate market analysis, Dania has earned rave reviews from the clients she has served through the years.
If you’re buying or selling a home on Davis Islands, contact a trusted Davis Islands real estate expert. Dania Perry will work with you so that you can find your dream waterfront home or sell your property at the best possible price.