The tiny village of Matlacha- (MAT-luh-shay) is actually an islet connected by bridges and causeways to Pine Island on the west and Cape Coral to the east. What it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Look for the handmade “Welcome to Island Time” on the mile long straightaway through town. Residents (population: 750) are known to have an easy-going, free-spirited attitude. Matclacha pops with colorful art galleries, seafood restaurants, boutiques and traditional Florida cottages. Shopkeepers attract customers with whimsical signs and displays. Its’ reputation as both an artists’ haven and fishing mecca keep Matlacha bustling throughout the year.
Matlacha could only be accessed by boat until 1927 when a wooden swing bridge was constructed over the shallow waters of Matlacha Pass. Dozens of small isles surrounding “The Pass” are excellent habitat for snook, red fish, group, tiger tale, and tarpon. As the story goes, when during World War l, soldiers stationed in nearby Fort Myers discovered they could reel in some pretty big fish from the bridge, they came in droves, and dubbed it “the Fishingest Bridge in America.” Replaced long ago with a modern concrete draw variety, anglers still cast their lines from the famous bridge. Shrimp, crab and clams are also plentiful in the waters of Matlacha. These delicacies can also be purchased from the communities’ roadside stands or seafood shops.
The shallow water, mangrove islands and dozens of inlets make Matlacha Pass ideal for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding where it’s common to see osprey, pelican, tarpon, manatee, ray, turtle, and dolphin. A popular place to put in your watercraft is the Community Park boat launch at the center of the island. The nine acre park is home to The Pine Island Arts Center and also has pavilions, picnic tables, a fishing pier, and kids playground. Charters and boat rentals can be found throughout the village.
During the 1950’s and 60’s a canal system was dug in Matlacha increasing the number of waterfront properties. Due to its’ small acreage, location on the water, and easy access to Cape Coral and Fort Myers, land and property is at a premium on Matlacha. As its’ popularity increases so do the price of homes and businesses for sale here. Yet, when one considers the big picture, Matlacha still contains some of the lowest priced gulf-access homes in Florida.