The largest island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, Pine Island offers a small-town atmosphere amid mangroves, three aquatic preserves, and acres of palm, tropical plants and fruit groves.
Places such as Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Sanibel Island are all very popular tourist locations along Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast. One of our favorite spots to visit in that area that is not overrun with visitors is the secluded, quiet, and laid-back island known as Pine Island.
While Pine Island is the largest island along the Gulf Coast of Florida, it is surprisingly undeveloped. There is a certain appeal to its small town atmosphere, and the beaches are more likely to be covered by mangroves than white sand. All of these factors combine to make Pine Island an absolute paradise for history and nature lovers alike, not to mention a phenomenal place to cast a line!
History of Pine Island
It is believed that the first inhabitants of Pine Island were the Calusa Indians. When Ponce de Leon discovered the island in 1513, he brought a number of European diseases with him that completely wiped out the Calusa. Pine Island was then left uninhabited until 1873 when a Russian sea captain discovered the island and believed it would be a safe place to live because the islands surrounding it would protect it from hurricanes.
The Museum of the Islands Historical Society located on Pine Island contains a wealth of information about these early settlers and the commercial fishermen that followed them. Here you will find details on everything from local shell mounds to historical writings and pictures.
Fishing, Nature, Wildlife & Boating
One of the most popular activities around Pine Island is tarpon fishing, which actually originated right here in the Pine Island Sound. Both fishing and boating are extremely popular all around the island, and there are a number of great charter companies that are happy to take you to different places around the island where you are sure to catch some unbelievable fish.
If you are a nature lover, you will also be attracted to the boating options all around Pine Island. It is said that you can explore Pine Island Sound for weeks by boat without seeing everything there is to see. Whether you are exploring the island by land or by water, you are likely to encounter fantastic wildlife everywhere, and you may even spot a manatee or a bald eagle.
Dining on Pine Island
If you are looking for a quick meal from a place with great atmosphere, you might want to check out Low Key Tiki towards the southern end of Pine Island. This is also the place to be if you are just looking for a great, relaxing environment to kick back and have a drink.
If you would like a more formal dining option on the island, you will want to head up north towards Red’s Fresh Seafood House and Tavern or the Tarpon Lodge and Restaurant. Red’s is a great spot for fried seafood and fresh fish, while the Tarpon Lodge has an outstanding list of first-class entrees.
Your trip to Pine Island will take you back to simpler times as a place reminiscent of what “Old Florida” might have felt like. There is plenty to see and plenty to do for nature lovers, fishermen, and history buffs, and it is nearly impossible to grow tired of the relaxing, peaceful scenery of this amazing island.
Located about three and a half hours south of the Villages of Citrus Hills, Pine Island makes for a great day trip on its own. It can also be a great place to spend a day on a longer trip to popular nearby places like Fort Myers of Sanibel Island.