The native Timucuans, Calusa and Apalachee dwelled idyllically, perhaps for centuries, in the lands by this harbor, dining on abundant fish in the surrounding waters. That was before civilization arrived in the persona of a one-eyed, red-headed and rather arrogant conquistador with a 400-man army, slaves, five ships and 40 horses. Panfilo de Narvaez landed on Good Friday, April 15, 1528, at Cacique Ucita, a Timucuan village, at the head of Clearwater Bay, according to some historians.
Narvaez, recently splintered from his plundering with Cortez in Mexico, terrorized the indigenous residents while exploring for gold. He sent his ships back to Cuba to obtain provisions, left 100 men to construct a fort at Tampa Bay, and ventured northward with the rest of his forces, up the Pinellas peninsula and then along the forested shores.
According to some accounts, Narvaez made it as far as Alabama in his quest for gold. With their supplies running out, Narvaez and his men built crude boats and attempted to sail to Mexico. Most perished in a Gulf hurricane; those who reached shore faced starvation or capture by Indians.