Matlacha Island in Florida is a small slice of paradise with loads of charm for those who enjoy waterfront living and exploring!
Almost every home is on the water and they range from brightly colored mobile mansions to luxury digs all with views of Matlacha Pass ...... so close to the Gulf of Mexico.
Although I love where I live in Cape Coral, I think it would be fun to live here one day.
are no beaches or fancy resorts, but that's fine by me ........I love
the artsy and laid-back feeling of the island, which has a population of
under 800 people. Come with me on a visual tour of this funkiest of the SW Florida Islands for not only anglers and boaters, but photographers as well!
Art, crafts, music, waterfront dining, delicious seafood, island-style gifts, resort wear are all part of the fun of the island.
Pronounced "mat-luh-shay", the island's name comes from the Calusa word meaning "water to the chin".
It's located between Cape Coral and both Little Pine Island and Pine Island, and is about 17 miles long and 2 miles wide.
Matlacha boasts the "fishingest bridge" in the world, a motel in an old fish house that is built over the water, old Florida buildings in tropical colors, seafood restaurants, a world famous artist, fun nightlife .......... and fantastic boating, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife in the beautiful place where dolphins play!
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.
The fun of the island starts on the Cape Coral side before you cross the bridge. You'll find seafood and bait shops, restaurants, a marina, boutiques, and accommodations.
Go over the bridge to art galleries, ice cream, boating, restaurants, shops, inns, homes, a park, and funky neighborhoods .......... where you'll find everything from cozy cottages to colorful mobile homes to some pretty fancy houses.
Just over the bridge to Little Pine Island you'll find the Sandy Hook Restaurant where you can watch mullet jumping.
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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Updated January 2, 2020
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Weird Cape Coral!
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