Matlacha is a tiny (reported population of only 735) old fishing village located just before Pine Island in southwest Florida. Part of the Creative Coast, visitors will find charming accommodations, wonderful restaurants, art galleries and gift shops, fantastic fishing and plenty of nature trails. It is the perfect kayaking destination.
Stay at the Sun and Moon Inn
Advertised as a bed and breakfast and waterfront fishing resort, the Sun and Moon Inn, is convenient to all that Matlacha has to offer. The six cozy rooms, all decorated with the sun and moon theme, have cable, central air-conditioning, ceiling fans and mini refrigerators. The morning meal is self-serve from the array of items that provide the makings of a continental breakfast located on the second floor porch. Other amenities include a pool, hot tub and fire pit.
The host, Curt Peer, provides a laid back, make yourself at home atmosphere. He is very knowledgeable about the area and willing to help visitors choose restaurants, acquire boat rentals, or go on fishing trips or sightseeing tours. For those who don’t have luck fishing during the day, the dock at the Sun and Moon Inn has a snook light, where 150-200 fish congregate nightly. Also available for guest use are a fishing station and massive Jenn Air Grill.
The recent addition of a floating dock makes it quick and easy to launch kayaks right into the Great Calusa Blueway.
Kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway
The Great Calusa Blueway is a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that meanders through the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County, Florida. This scenic trail beckons beginner to advanced paddlers. It offers flat, protected waters that put beginners at ease. The Blueway also offers long treks and overnight adventures perfect for advanced paddlers.
The views are spectacular along the Great Calusa Blueway. The tranquil atmosphere provides the opportunity to observe a remarkable number of species in their natural habitats. Dolphins and manatees frequent the backwaters. Birds can be spotted anytime and everywhere. Among the species found in southeastern Florida are bald eagles, herons, egrets, ospreys, pelicans, roseate spoonbills and wood storks. Game fish, like tarpon, redfish and snook, are bountiful and kayak fishing is a popular sport.
It is important to note that some portions of the trail may be inaccessible during periods of extreme low tide. In addition, paddlers need to be aware that the trail crosses busy boating channels used by recreational and commercial power boats in some areas. And, although the Blueway is marked, marker numbers do not necessarily run in consecutive order due to forks in the trail.
Florida’s Creative Coast
Matlacha and nearby Pine Island are part of Lee County and what’s known as the Creative Coast. Traveling through the village the reason for the name is quickly obvious. Along Interstate 75, the midsections of telephone poles are beautifully painted with unique designs in bright colors. The middle of the village itself resembles an artist colony, where tourists can wander in and out of colorful cottages set up as galleries with displays of sculptures, fountains, jewelry, paintings, photography and mixed media pieces. Several times each year, Creative Coast Weekends are held and feature new gallery openings, artist demonstrations, workshops and classes, scavenger hunts, great music and fantastic food.
Visitors will enjoy the beauty of nature and the local artists in the cozy fishing village of Matlacha. A retreat to experience Florida’s Gulf Coast lifestyle will find guests promising to return.
Indian River Lagoon, FLA, a Paddling Destination
Boaters, anglers and naturalists alike all enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Indian River Lagoon, which spans more than one-third of the east coast of Florida. It consists of three distinct water bodies: the Indian River, the Banana River, and Mosquito Lagoon. Connecting to the Atlantic Ocean through five different inlets (Jupiter, St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Sebastian and Ponce de Leon), it is both the longest saltwater estuary in Florida and the most extensive barrier-island/tidal inlet system in the United States.
Physical Characteristics of Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon is is one of the most important navigational and recreational waterways in the United States. It is 156 miles long and ranges in width from 1/2 mile to approximately 5 miles. It varies in depth, but remains quite shallow, with an average depth of only about 3 feet. The bottom consists of a hard bottom of gravel and rock, a soft bottom of sand and mud and oyster reefs.
Boating in the Lagoon on East Side of Florida
There are numerous boat ramps along the Treasure Coast that provide easy access into the Indian River Lagoon. Good fishing (mullet, redfish, tarpon and various types of snapper and grouper) is usually available almost anywhere and throughout the year as well. Catch and release is popular in the lagoon, with most of the fish that are landed being set free. Birding and photography by boat are also rewarding most of the year, but reach peaks when the winter shorebird and waterfowl migrations occur.
The lagoon is the perfect location for kayaking and canoeing. Without the noise of a motor it is possible to sneak up to the native wildlife for a close up view. The spoil islands make great locations for picnics, a barbeque or simply just a rest from paddling. Non-motorized boats also have great opportunities to explore among the mangroves and paddle into tiny tributaries reaching destinations that the bigger boats do not have access to.
Getting Close to Treasure Coast Wildlife
The Indian River Lagoon boasts a diverse array of habitats. Plant life includes mangrove forests, salt marshes, sea grass flats and algal beds.
Mangrove trees have the unique ability to grow in both salt and fresh water and help to stabilize the shoreline. Their branches are the home to many species of birds including pelicans, ibis, egrets and herons.
In shallow waters abundant sea grass communities often dominate. They are the habitat of small invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals. Some of the most sought after sport fish (redfish, tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit) use the sea grasses as a feeding ground. Boaters are urged to operate their craft cleanly and safely in order to preserve these precarious areas.
It is common to see a variety of shorebirds and mammals during a day’s paddle. Pelicans will often swoop down to catch their dinner nearby. Bottle-nose dolphins are known to play around and chase bait in these waters. Manatee are very slow moving and congregate in the warm water.
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