About Matlacha Island
Although considered part of Pine Island, Matlacha Island technically
is a smaller island in Matlacha Pass to the east.
Until 20 years ago, Matlacha Island was an “olde Florida” fishing village. But in 1992,
the county voted in a ban on net fishing designed to protect the popular recreational
fish typically snared along with the mullet being targeted by commercial fishermen. Following passage of the net ban, Matlacha’s fishermen shot up their boats and set them on fire. The smoke from the burning fishing boats could be seen from Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island, and it signaled the end of Matlacha’s days as a commercial fishery. Today a few shrimpers still tie up to the docks on the pass and offload their fresh catch.
Appropriately, the shacks and bungalows that the fishermen once called home
are now splashed with bright funky colors and house art galleries, gift and island wear boutiques, seafood restaurants, rental cottages and small motels.
If art is your passion, there are galleries featuring art from traditional to impressionist, pottery and metal work, all within easy walking distance. Sprinkled among the galleries are gift and clothing shops, restaurants and ice cream shops.
While Matlacha Island offers a nice selection of shops, art galleries and restaurants
to enjoy when you spend the day on Matlacha, there are plenty of nature
friendly activities that can be enjoyed by couples and families alike.
Matlacha Island has an attractive park that is part of the Lee County Parks and Recreation Division. There are picnic tables, a dock from which to fish and boat launch, basketball hoops and swings and slides for the kids. There are restrooms available here. A new park is planned where huge chunks of cement saved from the old bridge after its recent rebuilding, and other "art installations," will be on display.
The waters of Matlacha Pass offer fisherman an abundance of opportunities to fish for snook, grouper, redfish, trout, mullet and tarpon. Visitors can rely on the many qualified charter captains for a great day fishing and there are plenty of bait and tackle suppliers. Fishing is also good off the Boscilla Fishing pier.
Where there is fish, there is nature. Especially birds. You are bound to see
osprey, herons, roseate spoonbills, wood storks, egrets, white pelicans, hawks,
owls and more while you are out on the water.
Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge offers some of the best kayaking and canoeing
in the world. This aquatic preserve is the essence of the southwest Florida estuary
teeming with life: ospreys, bald eagles, wood storks, sea turtles and manatees.
There are several places visitors can rent a kayak or canoe.
Matlacha Island is steeped in Olde Florida history which includes Indians, rum runners, pirates and Civil War transport ships. To learn more about Matlacha's colorful history, reserve your place for the weekly historic walking tours offered by True Tours.
Check out our members page for links to businesses that offer the activities you are interested in enjoying when you "spend the day on Matlacha."