Siesta Key is a barrier island off the central western coast of Florida in the United States of America. It is situated between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. A portion of it lies within the city boundary of Sarasota, but the majority of the key is a census-designated place (CDP) in Sarasota County. After the probable Amerindian name of Zarazote for the area and the bay, the key was originally named Sarasota Key by European cartographers during exploration beginning in 1513. That name can be seen on maps from the early 1700s as well as on all local maps drawn before the name change to Siesta Key in the 1920s. The population was 7,150 at the 2000 census.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.5 square miles (8.9 km²), of which, 2.3 square miles (5.9 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.0 km²) of it (33.62%) is water.
There were 3,783 households out of which 9.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.9% were married couples living together, 3.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.9% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.89 and the average family size was 2.34.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 9.0% under the age of 18, 1.8% from 18 to 24, 15.6% from 25 to 44, 33.9% from 45 to 64, and 39.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 60 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $66,397, and the median income for a family was $81,345. Males had a median income of $55,240 versus $32,263 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $53,290. About 3.0% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over.
Point of Rocks is a shallow formation of limestone rock that extends into the Gulf of Mexico from the middle of the western shore of Siesta Key. This very distinctive site, geologically unusual for Southwest Florida, provides habitat to a wide variety of fish and is, perhaps, the only good snorkeling beach on the west coast of Florida. For centuries, Point of Rocks has been a landmark for mariners and "legend" has it as the starting point for maps to burial places of treasures plundered by pirates.
Siesta Beach is one of the largest beaches in the area, but its 40 acres of land might not have become the wide and deep expanse of public-accessible beachfront they are today. According to a local Siesta Key publication, The Pelican, one Otis A. Kiesow could be credited with single-handedly making certain that this beachfront---then, as always coveted by real estate developers and builders---would not later become filled with homes, condos and hotels, as are much of the rest of the Gulf of Mexico’s beachfronts. According to the Pelican and Mr. Kiesow, who passed away in January 2001, he had traveled to the Capitol in Tallahassee to ensure that the beach, in fact, was being set aside into perpetuity for the people of Sarasota: His discovery and impression from this visit was that it was not. He was told to go home and not to worry . . . that everything had been ‘taken care of’. Mr. Kiesow would then personally collect the needed signatures for a referendum that voters would later approve. Today, the site is wide and white with mainly a pavilion and gift shop as man-made counterpoints to nature. Siesta Beach, like Crescent Beach that extends south from it and Siesta Village, boasts white sand of a similarly fine, powdery white quality; Crescent Beach public access, however, comprises a relatively narrow strip of beachfront when compared to Siesta Beach’s. Turtle Beach, farther south still and nearing the southern end of the key, is a fairly large beach featuring a small mangrove-surrounded tidal lagoon; Turtle Beach, is noted for its abundance of seashells, as opposed to the sugary white sand to be found in other portions of the Siesta Key Gulf shoreline.