Pine Island Information & Travel Tipps – learn what makes Pine Island the ideal place for your next vacation.
Pine Island in a Nutshell
Despite being Florida’s largest island, Pine Island only has a population of 9.000 people. You will hardly find big hotels or even traffic lights here. Instead, Pine Island draws in vacationers and artists with its beautiful surroundings, rich fishing grounds, historical sights and relaxed atmosphere. Here, you can put your most comfortable shorts on and enjoy the good life far from the hustle and bustle of modern America. Pine Island can be reached in just 15 minutes by car from Cape Coral. Boats are another fast way to get to this tropical paradise.
Pine Island Central
Located in the north of the island and connected to Cape Coral by bridge is Pine Island Central. Here, outdoor fans can hike the Pine Island trails with their varying grades of difficulty. Tables and benches make for a perfect picnic spot, and you might even see tortoises crossing your path. At the Museum of the Islands, everything revolves around the history of Pine Island, from the first settlers to modern times. The museum also houses a huge collection of shells found on the coast. Families will love the Philipps Community Park with its green spaces and playgrounds for children.
Of course, there are no big shopping malls in Pine Island Center. Nonetheless, you can buy everything you need: either at supermarkets or at a farmer’s market selling fresh produce from the region. Make sure to try the mangos, a sweet Pine Island specialty. Pine Island Center also features fashion boutiques, convenience stores and pharmacies. Hobby skippers will find a marina with boat rental. This is the perfect starting point for trips to Cayo Costa, a small island known for its scenic beaches.
Pineland and Bokeelia
The neighborhoods of Pineland and Bokeelia are located in the north of Pine Island. Here, you can take the Calusa Heritake Trail at the Randell Research Center and learn more about Pine Island’s native inhabitants. The Calusa Indians left behind giant shell mounds, which they used to better observe the area. Beautiful nature awaits guests in the Big Jim Creek Preserve, an 803 acre area with mangrove forests and little coves. Kayak rides offer the perfect opportunity to observe birds like herons, ibises and spoonbills. If you like Golf, you should visit the Alden Pines Country Club, and fishing fans can catch big tarpons from the Bokeelia Pier. This is also a popular place to watch the sunset.
The oldest neighborhood on Pine Island once featured a thriving fishing industry. Eventually, however, commercial fishing was banned and the fishermen set their boats on fire as a sign of protest. What emerged from the ashes – quite literally – was the new Matlacha, a charming district with colorful wooden huts, art galleries, gift shops and vacation homes. Of course, you can still go fishing here. The Matlacha Pass Bridge between Pine Island and Cape Coral is the perfect place to cast your rod.
The little island also attracts outdoor fans who want to explore mangrove forests on a kayak ride. The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is especially worthwhile if you want to observe water birds. To see the quirky side of Matlacha, take a trip to the Community Park. In addition to housing the yearly art festival, the park also serves as a venue for the Mullet Throw Championship. In this competition, participants have to throw a slippery fish as far as they can. Most of the time, however, Pine Islanders prefer to eat their fish. A popular culinary choice with beautiful ocean views is Bert´s Bar and Grill: This restaurant with live music has been serving fresh fish, seafood specialties, tender steaks and burgers since 1930.
St. James City
Thanks to the Galt Preserve and the Saint Jude Nature Trail, Pine Island’s southern part is an ideal place for hiking, cycling and bird watching. The trails are in excellent condition and offer a plethora of photo opportunities. If boating is for you, then start your trip in St. James City and visit Picnic Island, a favorite stopover for skippers on their way to open waters. Here, you can watch bald eagles in the lush, tropical surroundings, collect beautiful sea shells and go for a swim in the crystal-clear water. Speaking of which: If you want to cool off on Pine Island, Tropical Point Park on the east coast is your perfect spot. Here, nothing will disturb the peace and quiet. Vacationers looking for white, sandy beaches do not have to stroll far, either: The beaches of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Captiva and Cape Coral are just a short car ride or boat trip away.