Cape Coral and Southwest Florida Feature Stories

Matlacha - Paradise of Vivid Contrasts

Matlacha Florida

Plenty of coastal Florida communities brag about operating on Island time...but Matlacha on Pine Island raises slow living to an art form.

Take Old Florida scenery, mom and pop hotels, swaying palm trees, glistening water, boats encrusted with barnacles -- then splash it all in bright colored paint, throw in a rotating population of redneck fishermen, a few small bars soaked in cheap beer and enough fresh caught fish to feed a small country -- then you'll understand...Matlacha is unlike anywhere else on Earth.


Small businesses boast hand painted signs and the main strip is lined with counter-culture art galleries.  The tropical atmosphere keeps blossoming flowers in eternal bloom and Gulf access canals are in every backyard.

Notable local artists compete with eachother, erecting gaudy displays of neon quirkyness.  The exteriors of their buildings become works of art, themselves.  Ridiculous offbeat strangeness becomes the singular local color seeping its infectious explosion of vibrant pastel energy onto all surfaces willing to receive it -- merging with the history of this stretch of land long celebrated for the abundant and precious bounty of its marine ecosystem.

Fire and Rust seem to constantly eat away at the eccentric legacy of this place -- a place with blatant distaste for change and modernization.

In Matlacha, the sun consistently shines on the way things once were, the way things still are and the way things will continue to be well into the visible future -- a future of vivid kaleidoscopic living...and a future of silence and solitude...broken only by the live music and lively banter of the nightly crowds carousing at Bert's Bar and Grill.

Matlacha is a uniquely American destination in Southwest Florida.  It's a modern-day psychedelic fish camp where artists, bikers, conservationists, historians, musicians, drunks and tourists all compose a colorful melody hummed in the key of life.

Currently, construction has made an open sore of the Fishingest Bridge in the World...but progress towards the future is a battle constantly being debated and waged in this paradise of vivid contrasts.

Next time you get the urge for altered consciousness...skip the drugs and head down Pine Island Road, instead.  Matlacha will be waiting.

Here are some places to visit when you arrive:

Bert's Bar and Grill:

Leoma Lovegrove Gallery and Gardens:

WildChild Art Gallery:

Andy's Island Seafood:

BridgeWater Inn -

-- photography, video and writing by Eric Taubert

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