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Cape Coral


Cape Coral was built about 40 years ago by two land speculators who believed that the property's location on the Gulf Coast provided abundant sunshine and almost endless opportunities for waterfront living. The Rosen brothers purchased the property, platted the community and created more than 400 miles of canals.The Census Bureau reports Cape Coral is the 3rd largest city by land mass, with an area of 115 square miles." The brothers began a massive marketing campaign that resulted in the sale of nearly all of the 350,000 residential building sites, the majority to people who lived in other states.

One of the fastest growing areas in Florida
The City incorporated in August 1970, and its population continues to grow rapidly. With more than 160,000 residents, Cape Coral is one of the fastest growing areas in Florida. Cape Coral is the 3rd largest city geographically in the state of Florida and is the 11th largest city in population.

The city is a large peninsula on the Gulf Coast of Florida and is bordered by the Caloosahatchee River on the east and Matlacha Pass on the west. The city is located about 90 minutes south of Sarasota.

One of the most attractive features of Cape Coral and Southwest Florida is its terrific year-round weather. The area averages 335 days of bright sunshine each year (the other 30 days are just moderate sunshine). While the summers are very warm, humid and rainy, the winters in Cape Coral are absolutely beautiful.

Southwest Florida receives about 53 inches of rain each year, the majority of which falls from May through September. During the summer months, afternoon rains regularly roll in with heavy downpours and stormy conditions that may last only a couple of hours before subsiding. Then the sun reappears, heat and humidity return, and all is well until the next day when the cycle begins again.

The city is affected by the annual hurricane season, which begins June 1 and continues through November.

 

Air Temperatures:
Annual Average: 74.4 F
High Average: 84.1 F
Low Average: 64.7 F

 

Annual Rainfall: 53.37 inches

 

Month

Average Air Temperature

Rainfall Amounts

January

74 F High - 53 F Low

1.84 inches

February

75 F High - 54 F Low

2.23 inches

March

80 F High - 58 F Low

3.07 inches

April

85 F High - 62 F Low

1.06 inches

May

89 F High - 68 F Low

3.87 inches

June

91 F High - 73 F Low

9.52 inches

July

91 F High - 75 F Low

8.26 inches

August

91 F High - 75 F Low

9.66 inches

September

90 F High - 74 F Low

7.82 inches

October

86 F High - 69 F Low

2.94 inches

November

80 F High - 61 F Low

1.57 inches

December

76 F High - 55 F Low

1.53 inches


Fort Myers


Nestled along the scenic shoreline of the Caloosahatchee River, the city has become an interesting blend of young and old.

Sporting the youngest population in Lee County, with a median age of 32, the City of Fort Myers is also home to the historic winter residences of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Extensive renovation of the historic downtown waterfront is underway, with new restaurants, nightclubs, apartments, and artistic venues providing energy and growth.

Throughout the year, Southwest Florida residents and visitors enjoy cultural events overlooking the river at Centennial Park and the Fort Myers Yacht Basin.

Ponce de Leon explored areas along Florida's Gulf coast in 1513 & 1521. The barrier islands of Lee County are believed to be one of his many stops. Spanish and Cuban settlers created temporary fishing and farming camps along the coast, but for years Southwest Florida was a rugged and isolated area.

In the early 1700s the Lee Island coastline first appeared with some accuracy in British maps. During the last half of the 1700s coastal areas of Lee County were a base of operations for bands of pirates raiding the cargo ships sailing to and from the port of New Orleans.

Florida became a US Territory in 1821, and the ensuing wave of settlers asked for protection from the native Seminoles. Fort Myers was built along the Caloosahatchee River as one of the first bases of operations during the Seminole Indian Wars. Fort Myers was named in honor of Colonel Abraham C. Myers, the son-in-law of the commander of Fort Brooke in Tampa.

The fort was abandoned in 1858 and reoccupied by Federal troops from 1863-1865. The Southernmost battle of the Civil War, a skirmish between Northern and Southern troops occurred across the river in 1865 and is reenacted annually at the North Fort Myers Cracker Festival.

The fort itself was disassembled, and some of the wood used in construction of some of the first buildings in what would become downtown Fort Myers. No more than ten families lived in the original town when it was platted in 1876.

Herds of cattle were driven past the old fort grounds to Punta Rassa where they were lifted onto schooners and steamers using block and tackle, and shipped to Cuba. Cattle, farming, and logging were early mainstays in the Fort Myers area. Tomatoes, avocados, and castor beans were cultivated on Sanibel Island. Many pineapple plantations flourished inland along the river as settlers began to move away from the fort area.

By 1885 Fort Myers was bursting with pride and a bulging population of 349, the second largest town on Florida's Gulf Coast south of Cedar Key. That same year Thomas Alva Edison was cruising Florida's west coast and stopped to visit the village.

Captivated with what he saw, Edison built his home and laboratory, Seminole Lodge, on the banks of the Caloosatchee River. He subsequently became Fort Myers' most famous resident and a strong force in its growth and development

Edison had a deep respect for nature, regarding it as an endless source of discovery. Through his sheer determination and dauntless efforts, the beauty and majesty of the royal palms lining Riverside Avenue (now McGregor Boulevard) were imported and planted, and would become the reason for the "City of Palms" nickname.

Edison's Fort Myers Laboratory was originally built for research on goldenrod rubber, but many of Edison's inventions and research materials are on display. The incandescent light bulb is acknowledged worldwide as Edison's greatest invention.

Edison's diversification remains a constant amazement. With almost 1100 patents to his credit, he has been dubbed "America's most prolific inventor". His achievements include the phonograph, movie camera and projector, ship-to-shore radio, alkaline storage battery, ticker tape machine, and microphone. Naturally he had his share of losers: a perpetual cigar, a concrete house and furniture, and a helicopter-type flying machine that was lifted by kites.

Among his lesser known, but successful inventions, visitors will discover items that could be part of a 'Who Invented' trivia game. These include wax paper, tin foil, the talking doll, mimeograph, and dictating machine, plus one of the most indispensable products in history: mucilage, the "sticky stuff" that is affixed to postage stamps, envelopes, and labels.

As Edison's enchantment with Fort Myers grew, he began to spend more time at Seminole Lodge and was often joined there by his friend, Henry Ford. The two distinguished inventors would sometimes go off on a camping trip or a drive to Estero.

Ford met Edison at a meeting in New York and, with Edison's encouragement, quit his job and turned his full attention to his dream of building a gasoline driven automobile.

By 1903 Ford's dream had come true and he had become so famous that people were asking to put money into his company. The Ford Motor Company was officially started that year with $28,000 cash, but it took the introduction of the Model-T in 1907 to make the company a financial success. By 1914 the first Ford Car Dealership was opened in Fort Myers.

Ford shared Edison's enthusiasm for Fort Myers, eventually purchasing the property adjoining his friend's estate and became a frequent winter visitor as long as Edison lived.

Edison's light burns a little brighter each year during the Edison Festival of Light, as the City of Fort Myers annually celebrates his February 11th birthday with two weeks of citywide events, culminated by the Grand Parade of Light. The celebration attracts thousands of visitors who view a colorful grand parade, join in street dances, and compete in contests ranging from fishing to shuffleboard. The King and Queen of Light area crowned at the coronation ball and reign at the Grand Parade of Light.

During the building boom between 1898 and the 1920's, torrents of winter visitors from the north flocked to Florida seeking their fortunes in land investments.

The opening of the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) linked Fort Myers to Tampa and Miami, adding more to the growth of the Big Boom in the 1920s. Growth radiated in all directions until the 1930s.

Two devastating hurricanes in 1921 & 1926, combined with poor publicity and inadequate planning brought a collapse in Florida's boom time. Fort Myers suffered along with the rest of the nation during the Great Depression. Still, there was moderate progress as some of the more elegant buildings in Fort Myers were built during the 1930s.

In the early 1940s, every county in Florida had air bases due to the advantageous flying weather. The Fort Myers area had Buckingham and Page Fields, and the city was home to thousands of servicemen, many of whom returned and became permanent residents.

In the years since World War II, the city has grown along with Lee County and the rest of Southwest Florida. Commercial and residential growth has pushed development in all directions to create Cape Coral, North Fort Myers and Lehigh, as well as adding to the coastal settlements of Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and Bonita Springs.

Fortunately, the older downtown area and the City of Fort Myers historic districts have retained much of their charm, and proper preservation measures are in place to ensure that charm will be treasured for many generations to come.

Sanibel - Captiva Islands


 

Sanibel Island

Have you ever dreamed of being on a tropical island with family or friends, while enjoying the white sand beaches, swaying coconut palms, and beautiful crystal blue water? What about collecting pastel colored seashells while the sandpipers scamper along the surfs edge?

Well, then Sanibel Island is your place. White sand beaches, pristine waters, superb restaurants, accommodations, shopping, theatrical productions, boating, fishing, the well-known J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary - Sanibel Island has all this. . . and a lot more.

Sanibel Island, Florida is a barrier island on the southwest Coast of Lee County. It was voted by Conde Nast last year as one of the Best North American Islands for 2005. It's much loved primarily for its wonderful white sand beaches and the huge variety of wildlife that calls Sanibel Island home.

Well-known for its beaches, a Sanibel Island vacation is perfect for families, as well as the romantics. The island is even a safe place for children. It offers the slow pace of Sanibel Island life with just enough fabulous amenities to make it unequalled.

Among the best features of Sanibel Island is the fact there are no high-rises, stoplights, or honking horns. And at night all of Sanibel is dark, so people can enjoy the remarkable stargazing.

This isn't only a perfect place for romantics to find intimate accomodations. . . families will also find plenty of Sanibel Island hotels to choose from as well.

Wildlife lives on Sanibel Island at every turn, so don't be surprised when traffic stops to let an egret or tortoise cross the street. And sunset on the beach is a nightly event.

And for those who love adventure, entertainment, dining and shopping, Sanibel Island has it all. The island is well-known for theatrical performances, arts classes, music festivals and performances, art exhibits, and craft fairs, and these are just a few of the choices you'll have during your visit.

When it comes to recreation, Sanibel Island (and neighboring Captiva Island) offer a limitless choice for visitors and locals alike. You can enjoy tennis, golf, volleyball, parasailing, waverunners, fishing, paddling, sailing, boating, and others. Just name it, and you'll find it.

The island also has all the shops and services you'd ever want and need. There are a number of groceries, as well as gas, liquor, beach supplies, bikes, and rentals cars outlets everywhere.

For dining, fabulous restaurants serving complimentary meals are out there, and if you want spas, shopping, chiropractors, and medical clinics. . . Sanibel and Captiva Island have it.

With all those assets, it's no wonder people from different places consider Sanibel Island one of the blessed places in the world. The combination of natural beauty and a high quality lifestyle also make it the better places to invest in some Sanibel Island real estate.

And, in case you didn't know. . . Sanibel Island ranks as one of the top birding spots in the entire America.

Sanibel and Captiva Island are located on Floridas southwest coast, just 45 minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport in Ft. Myers.

It's also a 2 to 3-hour drive from Tampa International and Ft. Lauderdale.

Captiva Island

Captiva Island is located in Lee County in southwest Florida, just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The island measures roughly 4 miles long and 1/2 mile wide.

Originally part of neighboring Sanibel Island, it was probably detached when a hurricane's storm surge washed away a new channel, called Blind Pass.

Blind pass hasn't been open since after its last dredging in 1996, so essentially, Captiva and Sanibel Islands are one. Once you cross the bridge at Blind Pass, the road becomes Captiva Drive. If you follow it north, you'll find public beaches, restaurants, shops, and resorts.

Now, like Sanibel, Captiva Island is a barrier island to Pine Island, located to the east of Captiva Island, but its much narrower. The only automobile access to Captiva Island is by the Sanibel Causeway and Sanibel-Captiva (San-Cap) Road.

Here's a great video on Captiva Island.

The Sanibel Causeway is a collection of causeways and three bridges, which link Sanibel Island with the Florida mainland at South Fort Myers.

The causeway to Captiva Island opened in 1963, and is owned by the Lee County Department of Transportation. The entire facility is treated as one toll bridge, with tolls collected only for traffic going west, onto Sanibel Island. The toll to cross is $6 per car and there is no toll to return to the mainland.

The three original bridges have been replaced, with the new bridges opening in 2007. The bridge nearest the mainland was a drawbridge, the replacement is a high-clearance fixed span. The other two bridges are low-clearance fixed spans, raised a few feet from the originals in an attempt to reduce corrosion from salt spray.

North Captiva Island or Upper Captiva was severed from Captiva Island in a 1921 hurricane, which created Redfish Pass. And since the island can be accessed only by boat, North Captiva real estate values are generally lower than on Captiva.

Captiva Island was seriously damaged in August 2004 when Hurricane Charley struck North Captiva. The hurricanes storm surge cut a path 400 yards or 365 meters wide across the narrowest part of North Captiva, making it two separate islands. The new pass has not been officially named, but locals call it, "Charley Pass.

In Captiva Island the winters are mild and dry. The summer temperatures, on the other hand, are tempered by cooling sea breezes and brief afternoon showers followed by more sunshine and glorious sunsets.

With this kind of weather, just plan for sunshine. Pack hats to shade your face and head, shorts, swimsuits, sunglasses, cover ups, a sundress or two, polo shirts and t-shirts. And, in winter, slacks and a light wrap are more than enough most days.


The Famous Beaches!
 
The Causeway Beaches
Located on the Sanibel causeway adjoining Ft. Myers & Sanibel Island. Great for swimming, fishing, windsurfing, picnicking and best of all no parking fees. Restrooms are also available.
 Tarpon Bay Beach
Located at the south end of Tarpon Bay Road at West Gulf Drive, this features easy parking for your vehicles, and a short hike from the parking lot to the beach.
 
Lighthouse Beach & Fishing Pier
Located on the eastern tip of Sanibel, this is the historic site of the functioning lighthouse. The t-dock fishing pier is also here as well as a boardwalk nature trail winding through native wetlands.
 Bowman's Beach
Located off Sanibel-Captiva Road, turn left on Bowman's Beach Road. Park and walk over a bridge to a secluded white beach where you'll find an outdoor shower and barbecue grills.
 
Gulfside City Park
Located mid-island on Algiers Lane off of Casa Ybel Road, this beach includes picnic tables and shady pines.
 Turner Beach Blind Pass
Located on both the Sanibel & Captiva side of Blind Pass bridge. This beach is very popular with the Sheller's and fisherman. Swimming is not advised due to swift currents.
 
The Marinas!
 
Sanibel has a wide variety of marinas and fishing charters for the amateur or avid fisherman! From deep-sea fishing to light tackle the opportunities are endless. If you are an experienced boater you may want to rent your own, and if not, there are a multitude of proficient captains and fishing guides that offer half-day or full-day charters. Which ever option you choose you will be sure to have a good time and who knows - you might even catch a fish or two!
 
Bait Box
1037 Periwinkle Way
Sanibel, FL 33957
(239) 472-1618
 Sanibel Marina
634 N. Yachtsman Drive
Sanibel, FL 33957
(239) 472-2723
 SANIBEL FLY SHOP
2340 Periwinkle Way
Sanibel, FL 33957
(239) 472-8485
 
The Golf Courses!
 
The Beachview Golf Club
This course sets on Sanibel Island which is three miles off shore and can only be reached by a causeway. The back nine has most of the water that comes into play. An outstanding feature of the course is the abundance of wildlife. There are approximately 300 species of birds and alligators that can be observed. 
  • Tee Times: 2 Days in Advance (Starting at 7AM)
  • Guest Policy: Open
  • Dress Code: Denim OK, Collared Shirts, No Cutoffs
  • Cart Access: Path
  • Club Rental: Yes
  • Golf cart Rental: Included in Green Fees
  • Pull Cart Rental: No
 
The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club
Mark McCumber redesigned this 9 hole course into a formidable eighteen hole course. There is water that comes into play on every hole. Begin with some "test drives" on The Dunes aqua driving range, and putt around one of the two practice greens. Then jump aboard a top of the line golf cart and tee off for a golfing experience equal to none where wild critters are spectators and every hole flexes your skills! The Dunes back nine is part of a wildlife preserve sanctioned by the Audubon Cooperative Society. 
  • Tee Times: 4 Days in Advance (Starting at 7AM)
  • Guest Policy: Open
  • Dress Code: No denim, Collared Shirts and Bermuda Shorts Are Required
  • Cart Access: Path
  • Club Rental: Yes
  • Golf cart Rental: Included in Green Fees
 
The Sanctuary At Wulfert Point
This is a narrow course with typical Florida flat terrain with some mounding. There are over thirty sand bunkers spread throughout the course, and the water hazards come into play on sixteen holes. The medium sized greens have average speed and are undulating. As the starting hole for The Sanctuary, hole one is a dogleg left, par 4 and sets the stage for a truly unique golf experience. Tall trees and wetlands guard the dogleg area and a large sand trap skirts the left side of the green. This course's signature hole is #4, a 197 yard, par 3, with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico! 
  • Tee Times 6 Days in Advance (Starting at 7:30AM)
  • Guest Policy: Closed
  • Dress Code: No Denim, Collared Shirts and Bermuda Shorts Are Required
  • Cart Access: Course
  • Caddies Available: No
  • Club Rental: Yes
  • Golf Cart Rental: Yes
  • Walking Allowed: No
 
Sanibel Captiva Island
 
Captiva Cruises is located inside the gates of the South Seas Resort. Enjoy one of the many cruises they offer. Dolphin Watch & Wildlife Adventure Cruise is the perfect family cruise. Sunset Serenade Cruise is the perfect way to end the day on Captiva. If you are an avid shell collector, the Beach & Shelling Cruise may be for you. Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, and Cayo Costa are three other cruises offered. No matter which one you pick, you are sure to have a memorable time!
 
South Seas Resort
 
The entire northern tip of Captiva is comprised of the South Seas Resort. Some 320 acres of resort facilities which was started in 1923 by Clarence Chadwick, when he took over the old Carter Plantation and turned it into a major golf, boating and tennis resort.
 
A 330 acre tropical paradise where owners and guests visit year after year. The lush, tropical landscaping along with the natural vegetation is home to many native birds. You can watch the Osprey as they build a new nest or eat fish high in the pines. Next to the entrance to Marina Villas you will find the resident manatees or from the t-dock watch the dolphin frolic together. River otters swim along the mangrove shoreline searching for their daily meal of fish.
 
South Seas offers activities for every age group. Enjoy the day golfing along side the Gulf of Mexico, play tennis, look for shells on two miles of beach or participate in organized activities such as yoga or water aerobics. The kids camp offers day and evening programs as well as activities such as log rolling and hermit crab racing.
 
Tween Waters Marina
 
Tween Waters is located at Marker green 19. Here you can enjoy fishing, shelling, sailing, and kayaking guides are also available. You can purchase tackle, bait, gas or diesel, cold beer, ice, suntan lotion and ample Boat Dockage. Canoe and Boat rental also available.
 
Jensens
 
The marina rents boats for fishing and for shelling on the outer islands of North Captiva and Cayo Costa, which cannot be reached by road. Jensen's has recently added a water taxi service to provide better access to the outer islands. Another option is Jensen's boat rentals. Shells on the outer islands are less picked over than those on the world famous shelling islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

Pine Island


Florida's Creative Coast, is just 30 minutes from Ft. Myers, but our secluded, small town atmosphere is a world apart! One of the largest islands off Florida’s coast, Pine Island is rural, sparsely populated and a true anomaly, allowing it to occupy a rare and special place in 21st Century America

Surrounded by mangroves, three aquatic preserves and with mostly agricultural zoning, we’ve escaped the cement and development of other Florida islands. Zoning limits now in place allow future growth but preserve our unique atmosphere for years to come.

The Communities of Pine Island

Greater Pine Island consists of five communities, each with its own flavor, and the areas in between. First we entice you visually.  You are probably coming from elsewhere in Southwest Florida, from Naples, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte- each nice areas in their own way, but each with a bit too much urbanization, too much traffic, too many rules and a feeling of sameness.  

Matlacha  

First thing you notice when you travel to Greater Pine Island is Matlacha (pronounced Mat-luh-shay), a hodgepodge of the different.  Your eyes will notice the great expanse of water, which backs up to almost every home and business.  Each home and business is something different reflecting the personality and/or idiosyncrasies of the resident within or business owner.  One likes bright colors and “pizzazz”, the other likes the more subdued.  Here you will find  houses, bars, art galleries, a post office, restaurants, a pet grooming service, gift shops, marinas, bait shops, a convenience store,  motels, a small condominium, all sitting one next to the other in harmony.  One house is large, one is a cottage, there’s a trailer, this one has dolls and giant stuffed animals on display, not to sell, but to show you.  There is an old Indian statue sitting on a chair on the street wishing you a Happy 4th of July or a Happy whatever, depending on the season. 

Matlacha’s main street looks like a party in the offing most of the time.  Its main bridge most of the time is loaded with people relaxing and socializing while dangling their lines in the water hoping to catch something for dinner.  The bars and restaurants are physically different from those in suburbia.  Some signs are basic.  One says, “EAT”.  Others are less brash.  Some are illuminated listing specials, early bird offerings, etc.  Offerings cover the range from take-out to mood sit-down.  Of course, since they are located in a fishing community, most offer seafood.  Mix in the shrimp boats, other commercial craft, the yachts, row boats, canoes and kayaks, the picture is near complete, visually.  Talk to the people.  That’s where the real charm comes in.  This one is sophisticated.  That one may be happy shirtless and talking to himself.  This one doesn’t eat anything that has a face.  That one is omnivorous.  Everyone seems to get along enjoying the diversity of the milieu.  You find them all in the small, but beautiful park just off the main road where you can park your car, walk on the pier or launch your boat.  You can “Spend the day in Matlacha”.  

In Between Communities– Little Pine Island

Between Matlacha and Pine Island Center is Little Pine Island.  Actually, it’s about three miles across.  So it’s not so little.  From your car you can witness a ten-year wetland restoration project in progress.  The State owns the entire island as a preserve.  A large developing company is carrying out the work to earn points which it can use elsewhere where questionable acreage many impede building.  Here the exotic vegetation is being removed on a grand scale.  Replanting of native grasses and trees is being accomplished.   The land is being returned to its natural state by a developer.  

Pine Island Center

Pine Island Center is Pine Island’s "downtown."  Here you will find a large super market and shopping center.  There is another smaller newer shopping center built in Old Florida style.  A third shopping plaza features an old round historic building with several smaller shops and an art gallery in the rear.  The plaza was once a motel and restaurant.  Pine Island Center features a fairly new Old Florida style medical and professional center. It also features our fast food restaurants, barbecue, pizza parlor and other eateries. There are boat lift builders, a hardware store, beauty shops, a barber shop, a travel office, our four island banks, a do-it-yourself car wash, real estate offices, insurance services, accounting services, churches, two convenience stores, two pharmacies, some light industries, storage facilities, laundry, veterinary services, dentists, attorneys, etc.  There is no post office at the Center.  Every other community of Pine Island has its own post office, but not “downtown”.  Oh, by the way, there is not a traffic light in Pine Island Center or in any of Pine Island for that matter.

Pine Island Center is also home to a beautiful public library in a relatively new building. It is used by ordinary folk as well as students and by many local resident authors for research.  The old library building still stands.  It is now a museum which concentrates on local history, especially that of the Calusa Indians who once had their capital on Pine Island.  Two parks are in Pine Island Center.  One is for quiet and maybe lunch.  The Pine Island Garden Center created this “passive” park on donated land.  The other is Phillips Park, a County facility, which features a huge swimming pool open to the public for a small fee as well as lighted tennis courts at no fee to the users.  At the very end of Pine Island Road easily visible to the public is an osprey nest, the pride of the nice housing community immediately to its right. 

In Between Communities - South

Go south from the Center toward St. James City.  You will see a smattering of houses and two mobile home communities along the way as well as the VFW, American Legion and the Moose Club. Stop in for a “cool one” if you are a member.  All along the road you will see mango groves, nurseries and acres of palm groves.  On the left is the KOA Kampgrounds.  You can hike or bicycle the entire distance on a newly constructed off the road concrete bike path complete with safety rails.

St. James City

As you enter St. James City, you will pass the entrance to St. Jude’s Harbor, which is also the entrance to the Calusa Land Trust’s St. Jude Nature Trail.  Here you can hike or bicycle through the woods and wetlands to the waters of Matlacha Pass over ground and over wood decking.  Observe the native flora and fauna along this half-mile trail.   

St. James City is Pine Island’s most heavily populated area.  It was incorporated before Ft. Myers.  But, showing itself in true Pine Island character, it “dis-incorporated” itself some time ago.  It, too,  is a mix of people, mostly a mix of retired residents, many  who maintain two homes, one in St. James and one “up North”.  You’ll see modest mobile homes, luxurious concrete block and piling homes, vacation cottages, and a small amount of condominiums and motels.  None of the condos are over 38 feet tall (one of Pine Island’s few rules).  Almost everything is waterfront.  This is a boater’s community.  The water is deep and Gulf access is easy.  There are some good places to eat, some offering frequent entertainment.  Pine Island is home to a many songwriters and  musicians.  They seem to congregate in Saint James, and can frequently be heard in parking lot "concerts."   

 In Between Communities - North

Go North from Pine Island Center toward Bokeelia (about eight miles) at Charlotte Harbor. The paved bicycle path continues north along the edge of Stringfellow Road, offering a safe place to bike or walk.  Along the way you will find some small businesses, a gallery with working pottery shed, a few churches, a restaurant or two, a mobile home park, but mostly you will see specialized agriculture.  Here are Pine Islanders defying the American trend of abandoning the farm.  They are intent to make it “farming”.  And proud they are with unique crops and methods.  There are growers of hybrid hibiscus, organic vegetable growers, growers of all kinds of palms, mango, lychee and other tropical fruit .  You can buy some of the products at produce stands or in their nurseries.  Pine Island mangoes are known throughout Florida. Pine Islands palms are shipped worldwide.  If you happen to travel to Kuwait City or the United Arab Emirates, you’ll probably see palms that were born in Pine Island.  Stop in one of the nurseries along the way to take home one of the palms or tropical fruit trees or to learn more about them.  

 Bokeelia  

Arrive in the Bokeelia area.  Here you can spend some time looking at the waters of Charlotte Harbor.  On good clear days you can see right across this large water to Cape Haze and Boca Grande Pass where the Gulf meets the Harbor.  Bicycle or walk through  Bokeelia rich in pirate history. Enjoy the scenery of nice homes, nicely landscaped short rise condominiums, vacation residences, art galleries, marinas, etc.  Spend some money to spend some time on the long pier where you can drop your fishing line.  Enjoy a meal on or across from the water, take a day cruise to Cayo Costa State Park with its seven miles of beach and multitudes of sand dollars.  Cruise to Cabbage Key for lunch.  Leave the money on the wall!  Stay at one of the fine condominiums or motels or cottages in Bokeelia for a relaxing couple of days or longer.  Go boating on your own; rent a kayak or canoe.  Buy fresh shrimp or fish from one of the commercial fishermen  who have long called Bokeelia home.  Hire a Captain to take you or your group fishing, boating or to a secluded beach on one of the outer islands where you can swim, bask in the sun, frolic or picnic.  Talk with the residents or fellow visitors.  Bokeelia also features a diversity of people of various outlooks, interests and income levels living together harmoniously. Each February/ March "Music on Pine Island" offers a series of concerts in beautiful Fritts Park, featuring classical, pop and jazz.  Plan to attend one or two or all.  

Pineland

Travel North from Pine Island Center and take a left onto Pineland Road.  For your safety, there’s a new left turn lane at this intersection.  Follow the winding road to arrive at Pineland.  Agriculture gives way to history along this road.  At the first curve you’ll pass a small reddish residence which at one time housed a church, then a school for the early pioneers to Pine Island.  There is an old cemetery on the grounds, but it is not open to the public.  Further on down is one of the smallest post offices in Florida.  Stop in and say hello to the postmistress who runs this building totally on her own.  In addition to regular postal duties, she maintains the facility and is responsible for keeping up the grounds, fixing and installing PO boxes, painting, cleaning, etc.  She takes a one-hour lunch break so you can’t do business between noon and 1pm.  

Leave the post office and travel Pineland Road west.  Look to the right and you will notice the land elevation rises. All to your right are the remnants of the mounds of the capital of the Calusa Indian Empire.  The Calusa controlled from Marco Island north to the present city of  Sarasota and are credited at having dominated some areas all the way to what is now West Palm Beach.  They had a remarkable system of man-made canals, some of which are still visible in Pineland and in the Pine Island Ridge area just east of Pineland.  The turn of the century pioneers of Pineland built their houses on the Indian mounds for the great vistas of Pine Island Sound and the barrier islands you see on your left as the road curves.  There is a small park on your left with an historical marker, which you can read.  Take some pictures.  Drive a bit again and observe some dazzling old Jamaican tall coconut palms near the 1926 historic Tarpon Lodge.  Across the road from the large marina is the unimposing entrance  to the Calusa Heritage Trail archeological site, where there is  a teaching pavilion and gift shop.

The Center is operated by the University of Florida which is doing substantial digs on the grounds to study the history of the Indians who built them and then disappeared.  Group tours are offered each Wednesday morning at 10 AM. The trail is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Finally, you drive into Alden Pines, Pine Island’s only golf course community with beautiful homes, many elevated, backing up to the golf course.  The golf course is open to the public at fairly reasonable rates.  So, if you are into the sport, try your luck here.  While you are golfing, you will be in a nature lover’s paradise sharing your space with osprey, eagles, even pond alligators.

We  haven't covered it all. You can see that Greater Pine Island may be “off the beaten path” but it does offer worthy sites to see and a variety of things to do.  Pine Island has been called “The Forgotten Island” in the past.  Now because of  MangoMania and our other attractions, and because of its “different than the rest” aura, we don’t think you will forget Pine Island anymore.  With the abundance of writers, artists, and musicians Pine Island has become known as "Florida's Creative Coast."

WILDLIFE

Pine Island's secluded and unspoiled location attracts many varieties of exotic wildlife which can be seen in their natural environments.  More than 25 pairs of American Bald Eagles can be seen soaring over Pine Island skies.

Other birds easily spotted are the osprey, heron, roseate spoonbills, egrets and ibis.   Multitudes of hawks, owls, and songbirds also inhabit the island.

Area waterways hold endangered manatees, the gentle giants also known as sea-cows, and dolphins which have been known to actually play catch with shore-bound residents. The waters are rich with marine life, among them tarpon, redfish, snook, and more.

 HISTORY

24.5 million years ago, Pine Island rose, as did Florida, from the receding seas.  It is not known when man first arrived on our island, but skeleton remains have been unearthed dating back about 6,000 years.

Calusa Indians were thought to have inhabited the island in peace from 300 AD until 1513 when it's believed Ponce De Leon landed on the west side of Pine Island.  The Spanish not only fought the Calusas but introduced diseases they had no immunity to, wiping them our by the 1700's.  An important archeological dig is located in Pineland, a small community on northwest Pine Island, thought to have been the center of the Calusa civilization. 

Except for the occasional pirate of fisherman, Pine Island was then basically uninhabited until 1873.  Those hardy settlers who then arrived, lived off the sea and carved out the paradise that we now enjoy.

 FISHING

Pine Island's fishing heritage stretches back at least 1,700 years to the Calusa Indians, who lived abundantly off the wealth of seafood in area waters.

Commercial fishing has supported generations of island families,  and sports fisherman long ago discovered the abundance of Pine Island waters.

Perhaps the best tarpon fishing in all the world lies just north of Bokeelia, in Boca Grande Pass.  Other popular game fish are snook, redfish, trout, grouper, snapper, cobia, sheepshead and many others.  Pine Island is a fisherman's paradise.

 ADVENTURE

Pine Island is a delight to explore.  Kayak in the pristine Matlacha Aquatic Preserve along the marked Great Calusa Blueway.  Hop a ride on one of the water-taxis or small cruise boats to Cayo Costa, Upper Captiva, Cabbage Key, or Useppa Island.  Paddle your own canoe through serene Jug Creek and St. James Creek.
Landlubbers will enjoy hiking through the state owned park on Little Pine Island. Guided hikes are advertised in the local paper, the Pine Island Eagle.   Campers can choose several great facilities on the island including the nationally recognized KOA Kampground - the only one in the Ft. Myers area.

 FRIENDLY NATIVES

Pine Island has over 50 different clubs and organizations, and 10 churches of various denominations.

Described as "Mayberry-like" by our hometown newspaper, you'll find Pine Islanders open, helpful and caring. We've managed to keep both that small town atmosphere  and small town values.

Whether your interest is gardening, boating, crafting, or joining the Pine Island branch of your favorite national service organization, you'll find friendly folks eager to welcome you to their group.

PINE ISLAND STATISTICS

·         Population:     9,000 year round,15,000 winter

·         Annual Population Growth:   3%

·         Media Age:   58

·         Households:   3,739

·         Largest Industry:   Wholesale Nurseries

·         Largest Employer:  PalmCo

·         Climate:  Temp average 70-90°,  Rainfall 55 inches

 


Boca Grande


Gasparilla Island's first inhabitants were the Calusa Indians.
They were living on nearby Useppa Island by 5,000 B.C. and on Gasparilla Island by 800 or 900 A.D. Charlotte Harbor was the center of the Calusa Empire, which numbered thousands of people and hundreds of fishing villages. The Calusa were a hunting and fishing people who perfected the art of maritime living in harmony with the environment. They were a politically powerful people, dominating Southwest Florida during their "golden age." Since the Calusa had no written language, the only record we have of their lifestyle and ceremonies comes from the oral history of the (much later) Seminoles, from written accounts of Spanish explorers, and from the archaeological record. The first contact the Calusas had with the white man came during Spanish explorations at the beginning of the 16th century. By the mid 1700s the Calusas had all but disappeared, the victims of European diseases, slavery and warfare.

Early Settlers Were Fishermen
Just like the Indians, the earliest settlers came to Gasparilla Island to fish. By the late 1870s several fish ranches were operating in the Charlotte Harbor area. One of them would later be at the north end of Gasparilla Island in the small village called Gasparilla. The fishermen, many of them Spanish or Cuban, caught huge catches of mullet and other fish and salted them down for shipment to Havana and other markets. In the 1940s the Gasparilla Fishery was moved to Placida across the bay, where it still stands today, and the fishing village died out. Today, many of Boca Grande's early fishing families are still represented in third, fourth and even fifth generation descendants who pursue many different vocations, including fishing.

Phosphate and Tarpon put Boca Grande on the Map
In 1885 phosphate rock was discovered on the banks of the Peace River just above Punta Gorda, east of Gasparilla Island across Charlotte Harbor. It was this discovery that would turn the south end of Gasparilla Island into a major deep water port (Boca Grande Pass is one of the deepest natural inlets in Florida) and become responsible for the development of the town of Boca Grande. Wealthy American and British sportsmen began discovering the Charlotte Harbor area for its fantastic fishing (notably for the world class game fish tarpon) and hunting. It was these two discoveries - phosphate rock and fishing - that would put Boca Grande "on the map."

Phosphate was a valuable mineral for fertilizers and many other products, and was in great demand worldwide. At first the phosphate was barged down the Peace River to Port Boca Grande, where it was loaded onto schooners for worldwide shipment. But by 1905 it was felt that building a railroad to Port Boca Grande and carrying the phosphate to it by rail should improve the method of shipment.

1905 officials of the Agrico subsidiary Peace River Mining Company, along with engineers from the U.S. Engineering Corps and 60 laborers, landed on Gasparilla Island and surveying and construction of the railroad began. Probably the only buildings on the island at this time were the lighthouse and the assistant keeper's house at the extreme southern tip of the island. The railroad terminus with its 1,000-foot long pier would be built nearby. The Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad was completed in 1907. For the next 50 years phosphate would be shipped out of the state-of-the-art port virtually without disruption. Phosphate laden trains were off loaded directly onto ocean going freighters, and the ships took the valuable commodity to ports all over the world. In 1969 Port Boca Grande ranked as the fourth busiest port in Florida.

In the 1970s phosphate companies increasingly switched their interest to ports in Tampa and Manatee County. As more money was put into developing these ports, traffic into Port Boca Grande began to dwindle, and in 1979 the line was abandoned and the phosphate industry in Boca Grande came to an end. Today the port is used as an oil terminal of the Florida Power and Light Company. Soon this too will end, and the southern tip of the island will be restored to its natural state.

The Railroad was Boca Grande's Link to the World
The Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad not only brought phosphate and supplies to Gasparilla Island; it also brought wealthy people from the north. By 1910 Boca Grande Pass was already famous for its unequaled tarpon fishing among fishermen, who stayed on nearby Useppa Island. The Agrico Company, having begun to see the potential of the idea of developing Gasparilla Island beyond the port, began to develop the village of Boca Grande.

The railroad station in what would become downtown was built; roads, sidewalks, streetlights, shops, a post office, and water and telephone service were not far behind. The town was landscaped, including the now famous section of Second Street called Banyan Street. The railroad company built several cottages downtown and a few wealthy families from "up north" purchased land and built winter residences. The train stopped at Gasparilla, the fishing village at the north end of the island, at the railroad depot in downtown Boca Grande, and at the south end phosphate terminal.

In 1929 the Boca Grande Hotel was built just south of downtown Boca Grande. It was a three-story, brick resort hotel where most of the island weathered the hurricane of 1944. The Boca Grande Hotel changed hands and was demolished in 1975. I t took six months to raze the building by means of fire and the wrecking ball, as it had been built to withstand fire and great storms.

The railroad continued to bring the grand visitors from all along the eastern seaboard until the Boca Grande Causeway opened in 1958. The depot was restored in the 1970s and a number of shops, offices and a restaurant now occupy the old building. The railroad continued to run work trains to the south end until the phosphate port closed in 1979. The Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association transformed the old bed of the railroad into a new use, Boca Grande's popular Bike Path. Boca Grande has become a unique community, with a large number of wealthy winter residents rubbing elbows with the fishermen and railroad and port workers who formed the permanent, year-round working residents.


Welcome to Florida


 
State in the extreme SE United States. A long, low peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is bordered by Georgia and Alabama.
 
Area, 58,560 sq mi (151,670 sq km).
Pop. (2000) 15,982,378, a 23.5% increase since the 1990 census.
Capital, Tallahassee.
Largest city, Jacksonville. 
Nickname, Sunshine State.
Motto, In God We Trust.
State bird, mockingbird.
State flower, orange blossom.
State tree, Sabal palmetto palm.
 
 
 
Tourism plays a primary role in the state's economy; in 1996 visitors to Florida spent over $48 billion. Walt Disney World, a massive cluster of theme parks near Orlando that is one of the world's leading tourist attractions; Universal Studios, a combination theme park and film and television production facility, also near Orlando; and other attractions draw millions yearly.
Famed beaches, such as those at Miami Beach , Daytona Beach , and Fort Lauderdale , attract hordes of vacationers. With more than 4,000 sq mi (10,360 sq km) of inland water and with the sea readily accessible from almost anywhere in the state, Florida is a fishing paradise. Other attractions include Everglades National Park, with its unusual plant and animal life; Palm Beach , with its palatial estates; and Sanibel Island's picturesque resorts.

Famous for its citrus fruits, Florida leads the nation in the production of oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and market-ready corn and tomatoes. Other important crops include sugarcane and many varieties of winter vegetables. Cattle and dairy products are important, as is commercial fishing, with the catch including crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.

 

 

*Information from Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition

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