Pine Island and its communities are tucked into Lee County's northwest corner, forgotten by many, overlooked by still more.But tropical fruit lovers, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers, bird-watchers, artists and 8,000 year-round residents, celebrate it.

The 17-mile-long island boasts it is the largest Gulf Coast island from the Big Bend to the Everglades.It's a 15-minute drive from Cape Coral and 30 minutes from Fort Myers, but Pine Island offers a secluded, small-town atmosphere that seems a world away from the rest of fast-growing Lee County. There are no traffic signals.

Greater Pine Island consists of five communities: Matlacha, Pine Island Center, St. James City, Bokeelia and Pineland.

Matlacha (pronounced mat-luh-shay) is a hodgepodge of one-story buildings painted like a rainbow — purple houses, yellow tackle stores, and pink art galleries. Water backs up to nearly every home and business. The main drawbridge to the island is known as "the fishingest bridge in the world." Day or night, Christmas or Fourth of July, someone always is at the bridge with a line dropped.

Pine Island Center — called the Center or the Four-Way by locals — is Pine Island's downtown. A Winn-Dixie, Circle K, Eckerd and Dairy Queen represent corporate America. Mostly, though, independent businesses, a church directory, the library, Phillips Park and the Matlacha-Pine Island fire district main station dominate it.

St. James City is Pine Island's most populated area. Winter residents occupy it heavily. It's a mix of modest trailers and near-mansions that rival those on Sanibel Island, which is viewable across the bay. Almost all homes, restaurants and businesses are on the water.

Bokeelia is at the island's northern tip, framing Charlotte Harbor and the view to Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande.Mango, palm and vegetable fields surround homes and trailers. Marinas, fish houses, an art gallery and a few restaurants complete the landscape. There is access here to Cayo Costa State Park, a short boat ride to the west. Many farmers and commercial fishermen live in Bokeelia.

Pineland is the second community on Pine Island's north end.It's a mix of agriculture, historical sites and homes as well as a marina and restaurant. Calusa Indian mounds sculpt the landscape. Mote Marine Laboratory has a site here, as does the University of Florida, which has the Randell Research Center.Calusa Indians ruled long before the Spaniards saw Pine Island. They are credited with building a complex system of canals and trade. Some canals still can be seen at Pineland today.White settlers in the early 20th century built their homes atop Calusa Indian mounds, and today those homes have stunning views of Pine Island Sound and its outer barrier islands.Alden Pines, Pine Island's only golf course community, also is in Pineland.

Favorite Places

Museum of the Islands

- Museum of the Islands is a museum in Pine Island Center, Lee County, Florida. - Exhibits include shells, dolls, household items, and fishing artifacts. - The museum is housed in a former library building. It opened in 1989.

5728 Sesame Dr
Bokeelia, FL

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Randell Research Center

- The Randell Research Center (RRC) is a permanent facility dedicated to learning and teaching the archaeology, history, and ecology of Southwest Florida. - Situated in the scenic community of Pineland on the western shore of historic Pine Island, the RRC encompasses about 67 acres at the heart of the Pineland archaeological site, a massive shell mound site extending across more than 100 acres from the mangrove coastline.

13810 Waterfront Dr
Bokeelia, FL

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Tarpon Lodge

- The Tarpon Lodge is a historic landmark - Off the beaten path, it has a rich history and a great reputation as a launching point for all kinds of water adventures. Dating back to the 1920’s, the property has been a private residence, a rehab facility and now a casually elegant fishing lodge.

13771 Waterfront Dr
Bokeelia, FL

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Bert's Bar & Grill

- Seafood shack - Waterfront restaurant - Fresh local seafood, refreshing brews - Beautiful views of Matlacha Aquatic Preserve - Live music

4271 Pine Island Rd
Matlacha, FL

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Fort Myers Sales Office
Fort Myers Sales Office

concierge@viprealty.com

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