Ivy had worked hard all summer and fall. She was a writer and had been working on the first draft of her first novel. A first novel is hard enough. The first draft is a killer. Ivy was ready for a break before she started editing. Writer’s don’t have much money and Ivy was no exception, but she did sell some of her writing so she had some cash to burn. She decided to take her break in one of her favorite places. Mystical Matlacha, Florida. A funky little Old Florida fishing village on the little bit of land between mainland Florida at Ft. Myers/Cape Coral and Pine Island, one of the barrier islands in the Gulf. Pine Island is immediately north of Sanibel Island.
Matlacha is definitely off the beaten path. It’s near Cape Coral and Ft. Myers but the road to it runs toward the Gulf Coast and Pine Island. The population hovers around 750 citizens, plus or minus. It is actually one of three islands – Matlacha, Little Pine Island, and Pine Island. Matlacha is the mystical, magical, whimsical one of the three. Ivy felt like she needed a Matlacha fix before she embarked on editing the first draft of her novel. She had loaded up a couple of weeks worth of clothes, her bicycle, and her friend, Shelby, and they had driven from their home in Tennessee. A long drive but worth it. Shelby loved Matlacha as much as Ivy did.
The minute they saw The Bridge, they both got excited.
“Look, Ivy, there’s The Bridge,” cried Shelby..
“Oh my God, Shelby,” “It’s still under construction,” Ivy said, as they maneuvered their truck through the very narrow lane across The Bridge. The Bridge in Matlacha is called “the fishingest bridge in the world.” Day and night, there were always dozens of people fishing off that bridge.
Ivy was tired and just wanted to find their bed and breakfast in the small town. They were staying at Bridgewater Inn. Ivy had stayed there before and she loved the porch that wrapped around the small inn. It was the perfect place to relax and watch the dolphins, manatees, and tarpon. Deep-sea fishing is one of the pastimes in Matlacha. Ivy had plans to fish for tarpon one day while Shelby shopped.
Ivy and Shelby got checked in the Bridgewater Inn and went to the porch to relax and shake off the road dust and noise.
Ivy asked Shelby, “Do you remember the first time we were here and went fishing for tarpon?”
“Oh yes,” said Shelby. “I had never heard of a fish called a tarpon before we came here that first time. Then we went fishing and the damn thing almost capsized our boat!”
Tarpon are huge game fish prized by fishermen but they aren’t very good to eat. Their habits are interesting as they come to the surface to take big gulps of air. They can weigh up to about 280 pounds. The area around Matlacha is prime tarpon hunting waters.
“It’s a good thing we had fishermen with us that knew what they were doing or we would have ended up in the Gulf with the tarpon,” Ivy said, and they both laughed.
After they had their fill of the warm breeze and view of the calm bay surrounding Matlacha, Ivy and Shelby decided to take a walk down the mile-long main street that runs through Matlacha. Not only did they want to walk, but they also wanted to find a place for dinner as they were hungry after a long day of driving.
They first passed the Doll Lady’s house. In her yard, there are hobby horses and dolls that sit in metal chairs. It looks like a whimsical shop should be inside, but there is no shop. There is a sign on the door announcing this. It is a private home and the Doll Lady is just entertaining the tourists.
They pass a number of gift shops. Many are rather high-end gift shops where souvenirs that have an ocean theme can be found. They aren’t junk but pieces of art. There are a number of fine art galleries showcasing local artists work and some showcasing the work of well-known artists. Much of the work is for sale and would look fine in your home. You will also find Trader’s Hitching Post which sells fine silver and turquoise jewelry. There are, of course, the requisite tee-shirt shops, but most shops have goods that are higher quality and higher prices. Most of the shops and buildings in Matlacha are painted in pastel colors so typical of Old Florida.
“There is Bert’s Bar and Grill,” said Shelby. Both women had been looking forward to stopping by Bert’s to eat. Bert’s is an interesting place. You’ll know it by all the Harley’s parked at the curb and the pool tables in the front of the Bar and Grill. If you walk past the pool tables, you get to the restaurant.
Ivy and Shelby sat down and were immediately spotted by a server. They both ordered a grouper sandwich platter, the requisite order at Bert’s, at least the first time you stop by on a visit to Matlacha.
Ivy said, “I have been dreaming about having a grouper sandwich here. Bert’s has the best grouper I’ve ever tasted.” Shelby concurred.
After eating, Ivy and Shelby walked back to their bed and breakfast and got ready for bed. It had been a long drive and they were ready to turn in for the night.
There are other excellent restaurants in Matlacha. There is Sandy Hook’s Fish and Rib House which serves excellent fish and other entrees along with Moretti’s Seafood Restaurant on the water. For dessert, there is a wonderful ice cream shop near The Bridge. There are usually vendors all along the road through Matlacha selling various types of fish if you are staying in a place where you can cook.
There are also other lodgings besides the Bridgewater Inn. Check out Knoll’s Court Motel and Matlacha Island Cottages. Most of all, enjoy this fascinating island whether you fish or shop or sit and watch the dolphins like Ivy and Shelby. It will do your soul good. #Florida #amblogging