On Florida's west coast, inlets to the Gulf of Mexico are called passes. John's Pass separates Treasure Island on the south from Madeira Beach on the north.
The pass was created by the Great Hurricane of 1848 that separated the barrier island at that point. The pass was first bridged in 1927. That bridge was replaced in 1971 and that one was replaced in 2013. John's Pass Village is a shopping venue centered along a boardwalk on John's Pass. It is an easy walk from the Village to the sandy Gulf beach just to the west. It is a nautically themed place with hundreds of restaurants, shops and curious small tourist attractions.
An early settler of this area was John Levique. He was a fisherman and subsistence farmer, but fate assured him a place in the history of Madeira Beach and Treasure Ialand. John and a partner had sailed to New Orleans to sell a boat load of green turtles. On the return trip they had to wait out a big hurricane.
When the storm subsided, they began to look for a familiar pass into Boca Ciega Bay. They were probably looking for Blind Pass, but the landscape had changed so much they were disoriented. They finally found the new pass that had been blown out by the hurricane.
On September 27, 1848, they sailed through the pass into Boca Ciega Bay. Since that time, the inlet has been known as John's Pass. There have been rumors over the years that John Levique was a pirate, so there is now a pirate ship cruise you can enjoy.
In those early days, not many people lived on the barrier islands that now bear the familiar names of Pass A Grille, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, St. Petersburg Beach and others. The islands were used for fishing and hunting expeditions with rich northerners and local guides.
There were tremendous numbers of deer, gopher tortoise, sea turtle, alligator, seabirds and shore birds. Over the years the numbers of plume hunters and white settlers increased to the point that most barrier island wildlife disappeared. Today, however, pelicans have made a big comeback and are all over the place looking for a handout.
As the population increased, so did the tourism industry. The beautiful white sand beaches remained and still remain. Sport fishing also became a popular pasttime. A local charter captain, Wilson Hubbard, convinced the leaders of Madeira Beach to let him build a boardwalk along the public waterfront along John's Pass adjacent to his marina.
He built the boardwalk in 1980 and led the development of the community of John's Pass Village. He added interesting boardwalk shops over his marina in 1982 and 1983, and the area has continued to develop with the fishing village theme over the years.
The village has an authentic riverfront Old Florida village feel. You can still get a reasonably priced room for a night or a week. You can enjoy shopping, beach combing, people watching, dolphin watching and any number of dining experiences.
A big parking garage was added to the village in 2007 and it's easy to find a parking spot.