For over 400 years, the Tampa Bay area of Florida has attracted a wide variety of visitors to its shores. Some of the first were the Tocobaga Indians, who enjoyed the bounty of the harvest from Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The savory clams, oysters, conchs, whelks, and fish taken from the pristine waters must have been delightful as well as plentiful. But eventually all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, their paradise was spoiled with the coming of the first white man.
On April 15, 1528, a Spanish explorer by the name of Panfilo de Narvaez landed on the west coast of Florida. It is believed he came ashore somewhere between St. Petersburg Beach and Clearwater. He and his group of conquistadors explored the barrier islands of this area before moving up the coast.
On May 30, 1539, a well-known Spanish explorer came to the Tampa Bay area and began a conquest which would change the world. Hernando De Soto came ashore on or near the south shores of Tampa Bay. He began his expedition of the southeastern region of what is now the United States, encountering Indians and hard times as he passed through this beautiful territory. He died on May 21, 1542, and was buried in the Mississippi River to prevent his body from being taken by the Indians.