Although it’s the largest island on Florida’s West Coast, one can’t help but get that small-town feeling on Pine Island. Despite being just 15 miles from Cape Coral and only 30 miles from Fort Myers, casual island living makes one feel a world away from the rush of the city. The island is free of concrete, high-rises and traffic jams, and residents want to keep it this way. Current legislation prohibits high density, high-rise development. Don’t look for any traffic lights here either. In fact, there’s only one four-way stop located at the entrance to the island, in the area called Pineland Center. This is the hub of the island with the largest concentration of retail stores. From Pineland Center, turn right (north) to get to Bokeelia or left (south) to find St. James City, the island’s two main communities. In between are several eclectic neighborhoods and small and prosperous fruit groves, organic farms and acres of palm trees, mangos, avocado, and lychee nut.
Dozens of mangrove islets mark the waters off Pine Island creating unmatched fishing conditions. Many prize shark, snapper, and grouper are pulled from these waters. From Bokeelia, it’s a short boat ride to the renowned Boca Grande Pass, the world’s premier tarpon fishing locale. Fishing guides are found at any of the Island’s several marinas. Bokeelia’s Jug Creek Marina is home port to the Tropic Star, carrying beach-goers daily to the pristine sands of nearby Cayo Costa. Kayaks can be rented at several locations for those who wish to plot their own water course. There are no sand beaches. Instead the island is ringed with mangroves making it more popular with wildlife than with tourists.
The island’s hub for social activities is the grand Tarpon Lodge in the Pineland community. This historic destination offers first-rate accommodations and four-star dining overlooking sweeping lawns to the water’s edge. Just down the road from the lodge is the Randell Research Center. The site was once a Calusa Indian village. Today it’s an important archaeological site. Visitors taking the half-mile walkway find interpretive signs pointing to shell mounds, burial sites and canals dug by the Calusa. The “Museum of the Islands” showcases the island’s rich history. The museum, run entirely by volunteers is found just north of the four-way stop next door to the island’s only library.
There are a variety of homes for sale on the Island. Whatever your preferences are in terms of style, community, and price point you are bound to find it on the island.