Pine Island, Matlacha, Bokeelia Camping at the KOA

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November 10th 2011
Published: November 16th 2011
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Pine Island, Florida

Smiling DolphinSmiling DolphinSmiling Dolphin

He seems to be dancing in the wake of the boat. The water taxi pilot slowed down so we could get a good look at this dolphin who played in the wake for quite some time.
Pine Island is like a hideout for artists, musicians, growers (landscape agriculture), fishermen, and retirees! Several years of RV camping on Pine Island from the convenient vantage point of the KOA in St. James City has allowed us a great “explore” of Pine Islands and environs. The island is sort of a secret; and people either love it or don’t get it! We met an artist at the Low Key Tiki on Friday night who said “Hush, don’t tell anyone about Pine Island. We like it just the way it is.” So, in direct violation of that well-meaning warning; we’re sharing! We like everything about Pine Island except for the occasional spate of “no seeums.”

On our most recent visit, we lounged at the pool, finished a few books, extolled the attributes of fresh squeezed orange juice (and fresh Florida oranges), sang Clarence Clearwater hits along with Charley Kutcher on Mardi Gras Mondays at Woody’s Waterside, took a water taxi to Cabbage Key and North Captiva Island, caught the in-water boat show in Fort Myers, had homemade ice cream at Great Licks, browsed the galleries at Matlacha, enjoyed great seafood and other fare, and otherwise vacationed to our hearts
Matlacha CanalMatlacha CanalMatlacha Canal

This would be a great place to live! This canal is behind the garden of one of the Matlaha galleries.
content! I bargain shopped at the consignment shop located at the laundry/dry cleaner in town and came up with a colorful Lily-style sheath for $7.21!

On the most recent (November 2011) visit, we discovered new musicians to follow like Gary and Kerrie playing at the Low Key Tiki (another first for us). We found 25 cent oysters (only at the bar and only from 4-6pm week nights) at Reds. This year, we were first timers for the amazing seafood chowder at Capt’n Con’s way out on the island’s north at Bokeelia. Upon the recommendation of friends, we ordered marvelous take out from Pork Bellies. Macelli's always pleases with great seafood, wonderful Italian food, and on occasional music on the deck. We got to Macelli’s; but missed the 2 for $20 prime rib Thursday night promotion that “pool chatting with the neighbors” alerted us to. We’re saving Hobo’s, a newly re-opened home cooked food established purported to have fab Tex Mex on the menu, for the trip back to PI in February.

We splurged on our farewell dinner with Michael David and his guitar at the Tarpon Lodge. Wes’s scallops were to die for as was my mac &
Funkier Than Funk...Artier Than ArtFunkier Than Funk...Artier Than ArtFunkier Than Funk...Artier Than Art

Matlacha... what can we say?
cheese with seafood!

Our new blog "policy" is to provide an idea of costs. Our Pine Island visit in November is "off season" and the bargains, like the 2 for $20 dinners, reflect that. The round trip water taxi, usually around $30 was $20. Red's mid weed 2 for $20 offer was hard to beat with six or so menu specials with salad or soup, entrees (Prime Rib for Wes; a generous portion of fried shrimp for me). We found the Red’s coupon in "The Eagle," the island's free weekly that is chock full of where the music is and what the clubs are offering. Clubs like Moose, Elks, American Legion, VFW, etc. all have food specials as well as bingo, karoke and other "special" nights). The clubs are real bargains and it’s fairly easy to become a member or a guest. Continuing with the food specials, a totally awesome quesadilla with pulled pork was $7.95 at Pork Bellies and you can bring in your own (cleaned) fish and have it cooked and served with all the traditional sides for $8.99 at the Lazy Flamingo in Pineland. The KOA is $46.20 a night (that’s the off season rate).
Cheese Burger in ParadiseCheese Burger in ParadiseCheese Burger in Paradise

Cabbage Key Lodge is the spot where Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise." The burger was yummy and we had a great table on the patio!
Come January it ratchets up a bit, but it’s still a good value – full hook up, lovely pool, hot tub, and occasional entertainment at the club house. We’ve yet to take the KOA up on occasional bus trips to casinos, plays, the Fort Myers and Sanibel beaches, Red Sox spring training and other attractions.
Wes found us another bargain – Southwest one way tickets $75 from Fort Myers to Albany.

At this moment we are sitting in the Fort Myers Airport sipping double Captain and Cokes. We just got carded – which is REALLY funny! Pine Island is always a good run; we can hardly wait to return.

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


Cabbage Key LodgeCabbage Key Lodge
Cabbage Key Lodge

Looking out the double screen door from the restaurant on Cabbage Key to the patio.
Chowder at Capt'n Con'sChowder at Capt'n Con's
Chowder at Capt'n Con's

This unassuming place at the north end of Pine Island has great fish chowder and great views.
Patio at Cabbage Key LodgePatio at Cabbage Key Lodge
Patio at Cabbage Key Lodge

Patio tables are hard to come by. The lodge is becoming a huge tourist stop! But then, we're tourists!
Dream BoatDream Boat
Dream Boat

A family of three generations pulled up at the dock at Cabbage Key Lodge for lunch. This is an ideal boat for us - probably a wooden Carver!
Red's Has Oysters for a QuarterRed's Has Oysters for a Quarter
Red's Has Oysters for a Quarter

This special is until Nov. 15 - At the bar only and between 4 and 6 Sun. - Thurs. Delish!
Library at KOALibrary at KOA
Library at KOA

I found "Loving Frank" (started previously and had to return to public library) in this well-organized library just off the laundry at the KOA in Pine Island. The books are sorted fiction/non fiction and then alpha by author. It's free and the policy is take one book and donate or return another. Very fair!
Steam Punk Spoken HereSteam Punk Spoken Here
Steam Punk Spoken Here

Steve Timcak's steam punk workshop is inside Island Visions Gallery next to Great Licks - an adjoining dooway brings art and icecream together!
Ice Cream and ArtIce Cream and Art
Ice Cream and Art

No rules against slipping from Great Licks to Island Visions Gallery with a nice dish of home made ice cream! Love the laid back attitude that seems to prevail!
Fish HouseFish House
Fish House

There are a number of these in the Gulf of Mexico near Pine Island and Captiva. I think it must be a guy thing. You pack up like you're going to camp and make several boat trips with supplies and friends to get to these camps on posts and, I guess you fish!
Floating CondoFloating Condo
Floating Condo

This is our ideal condo --- moveable and roomy; always with a water view!
Barnacle Phil's North CaptivaBarnacle Phil's North Captiva
Barnacle Phil's North Captiva

Captiva is for the residents. I would be fun to come by boat and explore the wonderful beaches; but on land it's almost like you can't get there from here without codes and passes. Can't even rent a golf cart unless you are a resident. We had been here before WITH a resident so we know it's lovely - just very protected from riff raff like us. We had a beer at Phill's and basked in the sun waiting for our water taxi!

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