Matlacha, Fl: Immerse Yourself in the Rustic Old Florida Charm and Bountiful Fishing Haven of Southwest Florida

What is Matlacha, Florida?

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Matlacha, Florida is a charming and vibrant small island community located in Lee County, on the Gulf Coast of the state. Nestled between Cape Coral and both Little Pine Island and Pine Island, Matlacha exudes a charm that is hard to find elsewhere.  Pronounced "mat-luh-shay", the island's name comes from the Calusa word meaning "water to the chin".  Known for its unique and colorful art scene, Matlacha is often referred to as an "Old Florida" fishing village. The area is famous for its quaint, brightly painted cottages, art galleries, and local shops that showcase the work of talented artists and craftsmen.

Matlacha is also a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, with its abundance of fishing charters and access to pristine waterways teeming with various species of fish. The community offers a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, making it a favorite spot for visitors who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. With its picturesque views, friendly locals, and thriving arts community, Matlacha, Florida is a hidden gem that offers a truly unique and authentic Florida experience.

The Unique Beauty of Matlacha

What sets Matlacha apart is its vibrant and colorful art scene. The streets are adorned with brightly painted houses and galleries showcasing the work of local artists. The stunning sunsets over the water are a sight to behold, with the sky painted in hues of pink, orange, and purple. The abundance of wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and a variety of bird species, adds to the natural splendor of Matlacha. The quaint waterfront restaurants and shops offer a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves in the island's unique charm. Matlacha's beauty lies not only in its picturesque landscapes but also in its welcoming community and artistic spirit, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly unforgettable experience.

matlacha flBri's Tropical Treasures

Lime Green Telephone Poles & Island Time Vibe

matlacha bridge

Matlacha is also known for its unique lime green telephone poles that line its streets. These colorful poles add a vibrant and whimsical touch to the town, reflecting its lively and artistic atmosphere. Matlacha exudes an "island time" vibe, with its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere that encourages visitors to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. The combination of the lime green telephone poles and the island time vibe creates a distinctive and memorable experience for anyone who visits Matlacha.

Boat Ramps and Marinas along the Coastline

matlacha island

Matlacha, Fl, is known for its abundant waterways, making it a popular destination for boating enthusiasts. Along the coastline, you will find several boat ramps and marinas that cater to both locals and tourists. These facilities provide convenient access to the water, allowing boaters to easily launch their vessels and explore the stunning surrounding waters. Whether you're looking to go fishing, cruising, or simply enjoy a day on the water, the boat ramps and marinas in Matlacha offer the necessary infrastructure and services to make your boating experience enjoyable and hassle-free.

Guide: Navigating Your Way to Matlacha, FL


There are several options for getting to Matlacha, Florida. One option is to fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers or fly into Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda (PGD) and then drive to Matlacha, which is approximately a 30-minute drive. Another option is to drive to Matlacha from nearby cities such as Fort Myers, Cape Coral, or Punta Gorda, as Matlacha is easily accessible by car via major highways. Additionally, there are bus services available for those who prefer public transportation, with routes connecting Matlacha to other cities in Florida.

matlacha floridaIsland Decor and More

Best Things to Do in Matlacha Florida

matlacha art galleriesLovegrove Studio

1. Visit the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, which is known for its diverse marine life and beautiful mangrove forests.

2. Explore the art galleries and shops along Matlacha's colorful main street, which is known for its vibrant and unique artwork.

3. Go fishing in the waters surrounding Matlacha, which are home to a variety of fish species including snook, redfish, and tarpon.

4. Take a kayak or paddleboard tour through the scenic Matlacha Pass, where you can paddle through mangrove tunnels and observe wildlife up close.

5. Enjoy fresh seafood at one of Matlacha's waterfront restaurants, which offer delicious dishes featuring locally caught fish and shellfish.

6. Take a boat tour to nearby Pine Island, where you can explore its pristine beaches, nature preserves, and charming small towns.

7. Rent a bicycle and explore Matlacha and its surrounding areas on two wheels, enjoying the scenic views and laid-back atmosphere.

8. Visit the Matlacha Community Park, which offers amenities such as playgrounds, picnic areas, and a fishing pier.

9. Find a local venue offering a vibrant live music scene, showcasing talented musicians and bands across a variety of genres.

10. Attend one of Matlacha Island annual festivals and events, such as the Matlacha Art Festival, which showcases the work of local artists, or the Matlacha Fishing Tournament, which attracts anglers from all over.

Matlacha Bridge - The Fishingest Bridge in the World

When visiting Matlacha Island, one of the must-visit attractions for fishermen and anglers is the Matlacha Bridge. This iconic bridge is not only a functional transportation route but also a hotspot for fishing enthusiasts. The bridge provides easy access to the waters of Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, which are known for their abundant fish populations. Anglers can cast their lines from the bridge and have the opportunity to catch a variety of species, including snook, redfish, trout, and tarpon. The Matlacha Bridge offers a picturesque setting with stunning views of the surrounding mangroves and waterways, making it a favorite spot for both locals and visitors alike. Whether you are an experienced angler or a novice fisherman, the Matlacha Bridge is a must-visit destination that promises a memorable fishing experience in the beautiful surroundings of Matlacha Island.

Here you will also find an anglers dream place to stay; a motel in an old fish house that is built over the water where you can fish right outside your door. The old Florida buildings are painted in tropical colors, and you are surrounded by seafood restaurants, a world famous artist, fun nightlife and fantastic boating, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife in the beautiful place where dolphins play!

Matlacha Art Galleries & Boutiques

wildchild galleryWild Child Gallery

Visiting the art galleries on Matlacha is a must-do activity for art enthusiasts and those seeking a unique cultural experience. This vibrant island community, located in Southwest Florida, is known for its charming and colorful buildings adorned with stunning artwork. As you stroll through the streets, you'll be captivated by the diverse range of art galleries showcasing works from local and regional artists. From paintings and sculptures to jewelry and pottery, there is something to appeal to every artistic taste. The galleries offer a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, allowing visitors to engage with the artists, learn about their creative processes, and even purchase one-of-a-kind pieces to take home. Exploring the art galleries on Matlacha not only provides a visual feast for the eyes but also offers a deeper appreciation for the talent and creativity that thrives within this vibrant artistic community.

Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens - Situated at 4637 Pine Island Rd NW, Matlacha, FL 33993, Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens is known for its vibrant and colorful artwork by renowned artist Leoma Lovegrove.

Bert's Pine Bay Gallery - Situated at 4332 Pine Island Rd NW, Matlacha, FL 33993, Bert's Pine Bay Gallery offers a unique selection of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, created by local artists.

Traders Hitching Post - Situated at 4547 Pine Island Rd NW, Unit C, Matlacha, FL 33993, The Traders Hitching Post offers unique handmade American Indian crafts, jewelry and art.  

matlacha shopsTraders Hitching Post

Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve

matlacha island

When visiting Matlacha, one of the great things to do is to explore the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. This preserve offers a unique and captivating experience for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its stunning natural beauty, the preserve provides visitors with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse ecosystem of Southwest Florida. From kayaking through the mangrove tunnels to spotting a variety of bird species, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The preserve also offers excellent fishing opportunities, with its abundance of redfish, snook, and tarpon. Whether you are seeking tranquility in nature or looking to engage in exciting outdoor activities, the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve is a must-visit destination that showcases the natural wonders of Matlacha.

Experience the Charming Island Life - Where to Stay in Matlacha

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Matlacha, Florida offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors, including hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts. These options provide comfortable and convenient places to stay while exploring the unique charm of this waterfront community.

In addition to traditional lodging, Matlacha also has RV parks and campgrounds for those who prefer a more outdoor experience. These options allow visitors to immerse themselves in nature while still having access to amenities and nearby attractions.

With its picturesque waterfront location and proximity to nearby islands and beaches, staying in Matlacha provides a great opportunity for visitors to enjoy fishing, boating, and other water activities, as well as explore the local art galleries, shops, and restaurants that make this community a vibrant and welcoming destination.

 Hotels: Matlacha offers a few hotels and motels that provide comfortable accommodations for visitors. These establishments typically offer amenities such as private rooms, on-site dining options, and sometimes even swimming pools or beach access.

Vacation Rentals: Many visitors to Matlacha choose to stay in vacation rentals, which can range from cozy cottages to spacious waterfront homes. These rentals provide a more home-like experience, with amenities such as fully equipped kitchens, private yards or balconies, and often direct access to the water for fishing or boating.

Bed and Breakfasts: Matlacha has a few charming bed and breakfasts that offer comfortable rooms and a personalized experience. These establishments often serve homemade breakfasts and provide a cozy atmosphere for guests.

Campgrounds: For those who enjoy camping, there are several campgrounds in and around Matlacha. These campgrounds offer sites for tents, RVs, or campers, and provide amenities such as restrooms, showers, and sometimes even recreational facilities like swimming pools or hiking trails.

Airbnb: Matlacha is also home to many Airbnb listings, where visitors can find unique and often affordable accommodations. These listings can range from private rooms within a host's home to entire houses or apartments.

Fishing Resorts: Matlacha is known for its excellent fishing opportunities, and there are fishing resorts in the area that cater specifically to anglers. These resorts often have on-site fishing guides, boat rentals, and amenities geared towards fishing enthusiasts.

Waterfront Villas: Matlacha is located on the water, and there are waterfront villas available for rent that offer stunning views and direct access to the water. These villas often come with amenities such as private docks, kayaks or paddleboards, and outdoor seating areas.

RV Parks: For those traveling in RVs or campers, there are RV parks in Matlacha that offer spacious sites with hookups, amenities like laundry facilities and swimming pools, and sometimes even organized activities for guests.

Tiny Home and Cottage Rentals: Matlacha has a variety of cottage and tiny home rentals available, which provide a cozy and charming place to stay. These cottages often feature unique decor, outdoor seating areas, and sometimes even private gardens.

Motels: In addition to hotels, Matlacha has a few motels that offer budget-friendly accommodations for visitors. These establishments typically provide basic amenities and comfortable rooms for a simple and affordable stay.

matlacha rentalsSea Isle Resort

Matlacha Hotels and Accommodations in Nearby Towns

Matlacha Inn - Matlacha, FL

Bridgewater Inn - Matlacha, FL

Pine Island Paradise Resort - Bokeelia, FL

Tarpon Lodge & Restaurant - Pineland, FL

Waterfront Paradise Retreat - Cape Coral, FL

Matlacha Cove Inn - Matlacha, FL

Olde Fish House Marina & Motel - Matlacha, FL

Bokeelia Tarpon Inn - Bokeelia, FL

Matlacha Tiny Village - Matlacha, FL

Matlacha Island Cottages - Matlacha, FL

The Beachouse - Cape Coral, FL

Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Coral/Fort Myers Area - Cape Coral, FL

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village - Cape Coral, FL

Dolphin Key Resort - Cape Coral, FL

Hideaway Waterfront Resort & Hotel - Cape Coral, FL

The Sea Gypsy Inn - Cape Coral, FL

Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside - Punta Gorda, FL

Fisherman's Village Resort - Punta Gorda, FL

Wyvern Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection - Punta Gorda, FL

Charlotte Harbor Waterfront Hotel & Conference Center - Punta Gorda, FL

Matlacha Restaurants - Where to Eat

matlacha restaurantsAndy's Island Seafood

Bert's Bar & Grill

The Olde Fish House Marina

Blue Dog Bar & Grill

Miceli's Restaurant

The Waterfront Restaurant & Marina

Island Seafood Market

Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House

Great Licks Ice Cream

Matlacha Island Food Truck

Island Pho & Grill

matlacha seafoodOlde Fish House

Where to Find Live Music on Matlacha

Looking to experience the vibrant live music scene in Matlacha, Florida? Check out this list of top venues and establishments where you can enjoy live music performances in this charming island community.

Bert's Bar & Grill - Known for its lively atmosphere, Bert's Bar & Grill offers live music every night of the week, featuring talented local musicians playing a variety of genres from rock and blues to country and reggae.

Miceli's Restaurant - Enjoy delicious Italian cuisine while listening to live music at Miceli's Restaurant. With waterfront views and a cozy outdoor patio, this family-friendly establishment hosts live performances throughout the week.

The Olde Fish House Marina - Located on the waterfront, The Olde Fish House Marina is a popular spot for live music in Matlacha. Grab a seat outdoors and enjoy the tunes while savoring fresh seafood and cold drinks.

Blue Dog Bar & Grill - This laid-back bar and grill offers a relaxed atmosphere and live music on select nights. From acoustic sets to full bands, Blue Dog Bar & Grill provides a great setting to unwind and enjoy some live entertainment.

Island Seafood Market - Not only does Island Seafood Market offer a wide selection of fresh seafood, but they also host live music events on their outdoor patio. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the music while indulging in the delicious seafood dishes at Island Seafood Market.

Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House - Located on Pine Island, just a short drive from Matlacha, Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House is a popular destination for live music enthusiasts. With a diverse lineup of local bands and artists, this waterfront restaurant promises a memorable night out.

Matlacha Menagerie - This unique boutique and art gallery often hosts live music events, featuring local musicians showcasing their talents. Enjoy browsing through the eclectic collection of art and crafts while listening to some great tunes.

Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens - Known for its vibrant artwork, Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens occasionally hosts live music performances in its beautiful outdoor garden space. Immerse yourself in the arts and music scene while exploring this artistic haven.

The History of Matlacha Florida

leoma lovegrove paintingsPost Office

It is believed the very first settlers, the Calusas, arrived around 300AD.

During the Civil War, blockade runners used Matlacha Pass to carry cotton and turpentine.

In 1926, work was started on a swing bridge from the mainland out to Pine Island. 

Construction was delayed when it was hit by a hurricane that same year.  It was finally completed in 1927.  The island was formed from the fill dirt as the Pass was dredged for the bridge.

It quickly became settled by squatters affected by the stock market crash of 1929 who first lived in their cars or tents amongst the mangroves, then wooden shacks on stilts. 

This unclaimed land was called "The Fill", it eventually was deeded to the squatters and the village of Matlacha became official.

Pretty much the only way the settlers could make money was through fishing, so a small industry was formed.  To this day you can catch lady fish, amberjack, redfish, grouper, Spanish mackerel and more.

The settlers' story is told in an Elvis Presley movie called "Follow That Dream" based on the book "Pioneer Go Home" by Richard Powell.

A new concrete bridge was built in 1968 .......... and that bridge was replaced in 2013.  Reflectors from the 1968 bridge are featured in the scales of a fish painted by local artist Leoma Lovegrove on the side of the post office.

Matlacha was a typical "Old Florida" fishing village until 1992 when a voter referendum banned net fishing to protect the local fish for recreational fishermen that were usually caught along with the mullet caught by commercial fishermen.

The commercial fishermen shot their boats and set them on fire in protest.  The fires were seen as far away as Ft Myers Beach and Sanibel.

Since then, Matlacha has become an artist's colony, a sort of "Key West North".  I love to go to the art galleries and shops and always bring visitors out there.

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Everywhere you look, you'll find a scene you'll want to photograph!  Here is a list of some of the pages I've built about places you'll want to check out:

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What is Matlacha known for?

Matlacha is known for its vibrant arts community, colorful buildings, and being a popular spot for fishing and boating.

Is Pine Island and Matlacha the same?

No, Pine Island and Matlacha are not the same. Pine Island is a larger island located to the west of Matlacha, while Matlacha is a smaller island that is connected to Pine Island by a bridge.

Does Matlacha Florida have a beach?

No, Matlacha, Florida does not have a beach. It is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge, and there are no beaches on the island or nearby. However, there are several beaches within a short drive from Matlacha, including Pine Island, Sanibel Island, and Fort Myers Beach.

Why is it called Matlacha?

The name Matlacha comes from the Calusa Native American word "matlacha" or "matlatcha," which means "water to the chin" or "shallow water." This name reflects the shallow waters in the area, which is known for its excellent fishing and boating opportunities.

What is Pine Island known for?

Pine Island is known for its fishing, boating, and agricultural activities. It is also home to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

How far is Fort Myers from Matlacha?

Fort Myers is approximately 15 miles away from Matlacha.

Related Pages

Cape Coral Beaches
Cape Coral Dining
Cape Coral Attractions
Cape Coral Festivals
Cape Coral Hotels
Cape Coral Resorts
Things to Do Cape Coral

Cape Coral Shopping
North Captiva
Fort Myers Beach

Southwest Florida
Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa, Useppa

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