A Trip to Paradise

Years ago we lived on a small island in SW Florida.  It’s 17 miles long and 2 miles at it’s widest point.  It’s a very layed back fishing community which boasts “The Fishinest Bridge” world record.  To access it, you need to drive through Matlacha which is becoming a large art area (besides the fishing).  You then need to drive through Little Pine Island which is a wetland restoration project.  Then you’re there.  Welcome to Pine Island.

This past weekend, we went to a pet event in Sarasota and then stayed the night in Matlacha to check out our old digs…

Pine Island consists of the Center, St. James City, Pineland, and Bokelia.  To take a quote from their chamber of commerce:  “Surrounded by mangroves, with mostly agricultural zoning, we’ve escaped the cement and skyscraper development so predominate on other Florida islands. Height and density zoning limits are in place to allow abundant future growth, while preserving our unique atmosphere for the years to come.”

Coming from a suburb of Chicago, this was different. The first day we moved to the island, we were in Matlacha at a pay phone and saw these little lizards all over the place. I thought they were actually baby alligators! Turns out they were gecko’s.

On this visit, we stayed the night at the Bridge Water Inn .  This is a cute little motel right before the bridge.  They’re dog friendly.  Due to construction of the new bridge, I didn’t get any outside shots, but here are a few of our room and you can visit their website to read/see more about it:

They even had a tall space heater in the bathroom for those cold nights.  Below you’ll see a rack for your fishing poles!

Here are some shots of Matlacha.  It’s a very colorful place nowadays:

This man sitting outside of the pizza place is the owner.  What a nice man!  When I walked away he called out, “Ciao bella!”:

A father and son fishing:

Prince DID NOT want to walk on that grate.  There’s no way I could lift him and my husband can’t pick anything up over 20 lbs so thank GOD he decided he could walk on this!  To the left is the “sidewalk” and to the right is the road.  This was going over the drawbridge.

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I told them I’d take a few pictures for them:

We had a snack at Bert’s Bar.  Lots of history behind it.  Lots of history behind Matlacha and the island in general.  There’s even a museum on the island.  Back to Bert’s.  They’re also dog friendly.  We were able to sit out on the back patio with Prince.  They brought him a to-go container filled with water.  He got lots of attention.  I heard his name in many conversations.  When we were leaving, a guy was opening the front door to the bar to let the beautiful night air in and yelled out, “Bye Prince”, and a little girl walked with her parents past us and told them, “His name is Prince”.  So cute!

When we’re on the island, my husband insists we go to the Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House  for dinner.  This time he commented on the salads being smaller (just like everything else now-a-days), but still loves the food and atmosphere:

 When we lived here, we rented a small house in Pineland. While doing the dishes, I had tree frogs “visit” me – they’d suction themselves to the windows. Just before we moved out, a barn was built next door. We’d be able to look out the kitchen window to see horses grazing. It was a peaceful place. Now it’s a tree farm.  Lots of history in Pineland too.  The Calusa Indians were once residents.  They’ve even got indian shell middens remaining.

Here are a few pictures from Pineland:

Horseshoe Crab:

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He see’s something in the water:

“Can I make it to that island?”


  This was our post office when we lived there:

Small islands:

My parents had a stilt house in Bokelia on a canal. We could sit on their back porch which over looked their pool, my dad’s deck boat, and the canal. There weren’t any houses except for one in viewing distance – and that was several lots over to the left across the canal.  There were just pine trees. Sigh. It was amazing. Great Blue Heron’s frequently landed on their property. When my husband fished off their dock, one would always be a few feet away hoping to get a taste of his bait (shrimp).

Here are some shots of Bokelia:

St. James City has a KOA/Encore campground.  I checked out the bathrooms and they were nice and clean for the amount of people that they had camping.  Yes, I know, many people may use their own bathrooms in their campers, but you’d be surprised.  I did see some pop-up’s and they also have tent camping.  Here are some pictures:

 This is Stringfellow Rd.  It runs the entire length of the island.  This is towards St. James City (while we were living there they were proposing a bike trail which now extends the length of the island):

 This is the road in Little Pine Island which is a wetlands restoration project:

 Again, Pine Island and it’s surrounding area is full of history.  You can read about it by clicking on the link at the beginning of this post and any of the other links in this post.  The island is fortunate to have it’s historic status.  While we were living there, only a Dairy Queen existed as far as food chains go.  They now have a Subway.  There are no traffic lights on the island.  It’s got a nice slow-paced feel to it.


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