Just west of Cape Coral on Pine Island Road are some of the most historical fishing towns southwest Florida has to offer, in Pine Island, Matlacha, Bokeelia, and Saint James City. Old Florida hides here, on island time, nestled within some of the most active fishing piers, colorful art studios, cottages, and cafe’s, where tourists and island residents sit sipping coffee and wine.
There’s one lane on and one lane off, the island with no traffic lights to speak of. This old fishing town, chock full of artists, anglers, and musicians awaits discovery–though once discovered, you may find it difficult to leave. Have your camera ready when crossing the bridge from Cape Coral into Matlacha, as it is an excellent opportunity to snap a photo you may end up using later as a postcard. This island is the proud home of many art galleries, such as, Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery, Bokeelia Art Gallery, Wildchild Art Gallery, Island Visions, and Gift Shop, Trader’s Hitching Post and Frills, as well as both of Leoma Lovegrove’s studios.
If you fancy yourself a historian, you might want to begin in Pine Island Center, where you can visit the Museum of the Islands, considered by some to be, the Jewel of Pine Island.
At the Randell Research Center in Pineland visitors can learn about the archaeology and history of the Calusa Indians.
The waters surrounding Pine Island offer sport anglers an abundance of opportunities to fish for snook, grouper, redfish, trout, mullet and tarpon. You can fish from the “fishingest” bridge in the world (Matlacha Bridge), from the Pier in Bokeelia, or hire one of the many fishing charters.
Pine Island is the largest island off Florida’s southwest Gulf coast filled with mangroves, aquatic preserves, acres of palm, and tropical plant and fruit groves. The Calusa Land Trust is an all-volunteer nature preserve of Pine Island where you can enjoy a guided paddling adventure, by some of the island’s biggest land advocates.
Live music abounds at many of the waterfront restaurants, where you can watch the sunset as you enjoy fresh, delicious seafood, to the gentle strumming of a local guitarist. With so many things to keep you educated and entertained, it’s no wonder everyone loves all the island communities.