Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Pine Island excursion

February 5, 2013
North Fort Myers, Florida
Seminole Campground

About twenty miles from our campground is a relatively undeveloped area called Pine Island.  Last year when Vic and I went exploring this area, we felt there wasn’t much there other than a few interesting looking bars and gift shops. While it’s true, the island doesn’t have a big tourist pull, it turns out that is part of its country charm.  We also were disappointed that there were no white sandy beaches to lure us there, but this year we learned that Pine Island has much to offer in terms of kayaking. So, I convinced Vic, Mike and BJ to go on a late afternoon scouting trip to check out the kayaking launches and take advantage of happy hour somewhere along the way.

On the way to Pine Island is the artsy bayside village of Matlacha. It is located on an inlet leading to Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Aside from having some funky art galleries and a few good cafes and bars, the kayaking here is supposed to be good, as well as the fishing. I have not purchased a fishing license yet this year partly because if I do I am afraid of being obsessed with wanting to go fishing everyday—however, maybe a daily license would keep my passion for fishing in check. We certainly will return to Matlacha for a kayaking trip and maybe try the fishing too.

From here, we drove to a place a fellow kayaker told us about near St. James City. There is a kayak launch just past Flamingo Bay (before you get to St. James City) that you reach by turning left on Tropical Point Drive and following it to the end. We found this spot and were pleasantly surprised with the easy access for kayaks and canoes only which is part of the Great Calusa Blueway trails.  I forgot to take a photo, but we plan to return here with kayaks in tow.

Next stop had to be the Ragged Ass Saloon. If nothing else, Vic wanted a t-shirt from here. The name alone caused us to stop, but we discovered their logo left something to be desired. It is just the donkey on their sign (see above).  We did catch happy hour with $1.50 beers so at least our thirst was satisfied.

The cool thing about this bar and cafĂ© is that it has been in business since 1951. Here is what they say about the place on their website: We're not sayin’ our Ass is Ragged, but it ain't none too pretty. Here at the Ragged Ass Saloon,we don't strive for pretty. We strive to please. We want you to kickback, drink up, and chow down (but not necessarily in that order). If you're lucky, you might get lucky. Ahhh come on now...I was talkin' about catching our band, some jumpin' entertainment, or just a Big ole Ragged Ass fish fry.

I had fun taking a few photos there and then we were off to find a bar where you could see the sunset.

Our next destination was a place called the Waterfront Restaurant and Marina at the southern end of Pine Island in St. James City with hopes of catching sunset. It turns out the restaurant is on a canal and did not have a unblocked view of the sunset, but what a charming place it turned out to be.

Again, we were lucky with happy hour as pitchers of Waterfront Red craft beer were only $3.50 and by now we were getting hungry. (We also discovered that drafts of beer on Wednesday are only .75 cents!  I told you this was no tourist trap.)  Judging from the chalkboard menu, this looked like a great place to get some fresh seafood as they advertise all fish was local.  The food was tasty and the atmosphere was great with lots of memorabilia, table covering drawings, and local relics.


The outside deck had a series of handpainted signs that were pretty entertaining.

We had planned to check out the kayaking launches in Bokeelia, the north end of the island, but we ran out of time and will do so another day. Our new perspective on Pine Island is another lesson in getting to know an area better before making snap judgments about a place. We experienced a similar feeling about Gulf Shores, Alabama last year. After staying there a few days and talking to locals about places to kayak and discovering the infamous Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store, a whole new world opened up. One of the keys is having enough time to get to know a place beyond just first impressions. Not much different with relationships as my romance with Vic took time and turned out to be one of the best things that has happened to me in my life. So--stay open to possibilities. Adios for now.


  1. I am definitely going to visit that watering hole:)

  2. Those are some darn good HH prices on the beer ... will have to check them out someday.


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