Separating Madeira Beach and
Treasure Island, John's Pass is internationally known as one of
Florida's most beautiful and busiest waterways.
On the North side of
John's Pass we have the well known board walk which was built by
Wilson Hubbard over his popular restaurant and fishing marina in
by, shops and other restaurants, together with Charter
fishing boats, hire boats, sea scooter hire and parasail. You can
even take a cruise on a Pirate ship. Recently there have been
further buildings and additions to the restaurant area with such names as Bubba
Gump, Hooters etc.
For those who require fuel for their boats, you can obtain that from
the well known Don's Dock, which was established in 1946. Here it's
easy to dock even when the tide is at it's full flow. This dock has
now been extended for easier access for fuel.
To the South side we have the well know Gator's Bar
on the Pass which is the location of the world's longest waterfront bar
offering you a variety of refreshing beverages and great food,
all on a beautiful waterfront setting. New owners have been in
place since mid 2012 and are currently refurbishing the restaurant and
There is however plenty of parking on the south side of the bridge
behind Gator's Bar, however you need to use there facility to park there
otherwise you will be towed.
Just past Gators Restaurant and bar you come to Marlin's Dock where several
charter boats are moored. Here there is also
a fuel dock.
If you did not know
John's Pass was created by the Great Hurricane of 1848 and
discovered by fisherman John LeVeque for which the waterway is named.
Pass connects Florida's West Coast Intracoastal Waterway with the Gulf of
Mexico. Everyday hundreds of pleasure boats, fishing charters and even ocean
going gambling ships, ply the waters of John's Pass.
Going back in history escaped slaves from the
Southern states found refuge and freedom here, where they joined the
Native American tribe of Seminole Indians. In an early example of the
individualistic Floridian spirit, the newcomers and natives lived
together in peace, living off the land in co-existence with one another.
Another type of person was attracted to the West Coast of Florida as
well. A sort not unlike the thousands of visitors who make their way to
our beaches each year in an escape from the rigors and structured demands
of life . . . PIRATES!
courtesy of Mapquest
One such individual was a man named
John LeVeque. A Frenchman by birth, LeVeque found work as a cabin boy in a
Spanish Galleon in 1836. Little is known of his life up until this point, but it
can be safely inferred that he was of the lowest class in Europe, and held hopes
of making his fortune across the sea. Heading for the New World, however, the
ship was attacked by pirates. LeVeque was invited to join the pirate crew as a
galley slave in return for his life. Cold and afraid, he accepted their offer,
and within a decade he went from Galley Slave to pirate himself, from First Mate
to Captain of his very own pirate ship. Maybe he remembered what it felt like to
be attacked by pirates. Maybe he was simply a good man. Whatever the reason,
John LeVeque always allowed his victims to keep their lives and freedom.
seven years he sailed the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, there is no record
of LeVeque killing a single innocent or holding a hostage for ransom. Perhaps
this is the reason for his curious economic state. In his entire career as a
pirate, the fortune he had amassed totaled one chest of "Pieces of Eight" and
Spanish doubloons. He had hidden his chest right off the beach on an island on
Florida's West Coast, an area he would often times visit when he had to hide out
for a while.
It was an un-named and isolated
island that would someday be named Madeira Beach. The life of a pirate was hard
and short. If the scurvy or malaria didn't get you, the Dutch and English
pirate-hunters surely would! LeVeque understood this and decided to retire from
the pirate's life after seven years of captaining his ship. Taking only a small
boat, meager supplies, and his treasure map, he left his crew and ship in the
Gulf of Mexico, sailing off alone as his men cheered one last cheer for their
departing Captain. He was headed for his hideout on Madeira Beach, where he
planned on digging up his treasure and continuing on to New Orleans. As he
sailed North into the coastal waters, however, he noticed a storm on the
horizon. Recognizing the storm as a hurricane, LeVeque held back and waited
overnight as the hurricane ran its course.
Madeira Beach - it's never crowded
The next morning, September 27,
1848, John LeVeque found that the hurricane had cut his long skinny island clean in
two, rendering his treasure map useless.
The storm had destroyed the very area
of the island where his treasure had been buried! As he sailed through the new
pass, and as dolphins played alongside his boat, John LeVeque realized his
treasure had been lost forever.
Since that day, the inlet has been known as
John's Pass, in honor of John LeVeque's discovery and maiden passage through the
LeVeque lived out the remainder of his life on the local beaches,
fishing and swimming by day, searching for his lost treasure by night. He lived
to a ripe old age, seeing his isolated island become a quaint fishing community.