To visualize a picture of Pine Island, first capture the spirit of the folks who live there. Part cozy town, part fishing village, at the center of this 17-mile-long canvas of imagination is the colorful artists’ enclave of Matlacha.
Quirky and infused with the soul of artists past and present, Pine Island takes you back in time. Found just over "The Fishingest Bridge in the US" from Cape Coral, the heart of Pine Island is a collection of homegrown shops, galleries, fish markets and residences. The rest of Pine Island eases into a rural landscape where the speed of life takes a back seat to independence, peace and quiet. Green stretches of pine woods and scrubby hammock accent the spaces between the island’s distinct yet neighborly communities of St. James City, Bokeelia, Pineland and Matlacha.
Matlacha (pronounced Mat-luh-SHAY) forms a bridge from the mainland to Pine Island, which, like Sanibel and Captiva islands, relies only on stop signs to control the flow of traffic. The most well-known of the Pine Island communities, Matlacha occupies its own small island dotted by colorful shops and galleries, seafood markets, funky waterside restaurants and a community park that fronts Matlacha Pass, part of the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail. This artist paradise is possessed by a strong bohemian charm, and it’s easy to fall under its spell.