Matlacha, is a tiny hamlet just south of Fort Myers, Located on Pine Island, it is best known as a great fishing location. The the Gulf of Mexico, the Caloosahatchee River, Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor all meet in and around the tiny sound.
   This pass is dotted with islands and bordered by bayous, bays and coves. Numerous tidal creeks drain in from both sides. Within the waterway, channels, potholes, oyster bars, grassflats, sandbars and mangrove shorelines provide myriad angling environments.

How We Found It

   Not being fisher-people, we first learned about Matlacha in a travel blog about interesting tiny towns.
It’s funky and laid back in the colorful hamlet of Matlacha
   After seeing a few photos and reading some descriptions of the place – we decided to check it out. We discovered this is a prime candidate for the Florida Fun Travel list of must-visits.
  Matlacha is one of five communities on Pine Island, although technically, it is located on a smaller island in Matlacha Pass, east of Pine Island. It is an “Old Florida” fishing village. It’s home to many brightly colored art galleries, island boutiques, seafood restaurants, and traditional Floridian cottages.
  I’m here to tell you – once you go across the drawbridge, it’s a whole different world.

The Angler’s Inn

  After booking a room at the Angler’s Inn, we had a chat with one of the owners. Janette. She gently told us the correct pronunciation of the town sounds like the name “Matt LaShay.”
  Fashioned out of a 1940s fishing camp, the appropriately-named Angler’s Inn has just four units. They have been transformed into efficiencies with all the comforts of home. We had a queen-sized bed, kitchen, dining area, bathroom and a screened-in, private back porch.
  Inside there was a hot plate, toaster oven, griddle and microwave with all the accompanying pans, dishes and tableware for just about any kind of meal. The bathroom was small but well appointed, It even had a blow dryer.
Is it a dock or a deck? You decide!

The Inn is located along a canal, which was surprisingly wide enough to accommodate boat traffic, including pontoons, which use it as waterside access to a number of restaurants – including the nearby Blue Dog Bar & Grill.

At the Inn there were bicycles of all sizes (even a bike built for two.) There were kayaks if we wanted to paddle around the canal and to a park that was just a short distance away. The inn is centrally-located and within easy walking distance of many of the restaurants and shops.

Downtown Matlacha

We found the “downtown” area to be a line of brightly colored buildings which is a mish-mash of art galleries, boutiques and restaurants dotted with other lodging facilities. It is on the main drag on Pine Island, meaning that a lot of the full time residents who know exactly where they are going fly by.

You have to watch out for this.

One of the most fun places is the Wild Child Art Gallery. A conglomeration of the work of better than three dozen artists and artisans, the collection ranges from paintings to sculptures, yard art, wall hangings and even jams, spreads and hot sauces. They also offer classes held by those same artists.

However, to see the stock, one actually must go there, inasmuch as the place is closely guarded with “No Pictures Please” signs throughout.

There are other shops with local art including the Matlacha Menagerie, Traders Hitching Post and the Leoma Lovegrove Gallery.  For clothing and jewelry, there’s Frills. They actually have two shops a stone’s throw from each other. For footwear, there’s The Shoe Gallery.

The Dining Adventure

   There’s no shortage of places to eat. The Perfect Cup drew our highest marks – with possibly the best breakfast we have had outside of our house. They have a great coffee bar where you can mix and match your coffee and a wonderful selection of teas.
The Perfect Cup not only has great food, but the hand-painted walls really add to the dining experience.

Although we had “The Big Breakfast,” with perfectly crisp bacon and large cut home fries, they have a great selection of omelettes, french toast, Belgian waffles and a great steak and eggs. If you like something more exotic, there’s a fajita scrambler or a whitefish bagel.

There also are lunch specials from chili cheese dogs and meatball subs to veggie grilled cheese and cantaloupe stuffed with home made chicken salad.

Other Options

The Blue Dog Bar & Grill is another must-stop.  We had the “Blue Bread” which was garlic bread topped with bleu cheese, provolone and tomato chips. But there also are craft burgers, hand cut steaks, their trademark three-step custom dinners with hundreds of combinations and “the best seafood on the island.”

While we were there a pontoon boat pulled up in the back. A manager went out, helped them dock, and the folks came in for dinner.

You like Italian? There’s Miceli’s Premier Waterfront Restaurant.

With dining inside or out, it is a real culinary experience. We sat under the aquarium watching the fish go by. I had the baked ravioli, while my wife enjoyed the tri-colored nachos and salsa.

It all started with a loaf of garlic bread (of course) and everything was quick, hot and really good. Out on the deck, Rich Lancaster entertained the crowd with an array of tunes from the Rolling Stones to the Eagles.

And those are just the places we went downtown.

It’s worth a short walk on a long pier to watch the sun go down at Bokeelia


A trip to the far end of Pine Island takes you to Bokeelia, where we enjoyed home made pies (key lime and mango respectively) at Capt’n Con’s. Afterward, there was a long walk out on the fishing pier to experience the sunset over open water.

Matlacha has a lot more to do than one can accomplish in a single overnighter. We plan to return and stay at another of the lodging facilities, perhaps the Jug Creek Cabins at Cayo Costa State Park. We did not have the opportunity to try the water and there were plenty of shops and galleries we missed and a number of restaurants we did not have a chance to enjoy.

There also were some places to which we plan to return and try other dishes or enjoy other entertainment.

This is a great little getaway, and well worth the trip. Once you get over the draw bridge, it truly is a different world. If you go, let us know. Visit our Florida Fun Travel Facebook page or drop us a line at