All About Pine Island
Pine Island is the largest island on the west coast of Florida and it boasts some of the best fishing and boating in the state. Dolphins and manatees are right at home in the neighboring waters. The island is also home to several bald eagles so you have an opportunity to see this majestic creature while visiting. You can access Pine Island from the mainland by crossing the Matlacha Bridge from Cape Coral (a neighbor of Fort Myers).
Where Are The Dolphins?
Matlacha Pass separates Pine Island from the mainland. The dolphin rich waters of Pine Island Sound separate Pine Island from Sanibel and Captiva. Dolphins travel around the tips of these islands, as well as along nearby Cayo Costa island. They frequently use the passes (e.g., Matlacha Pass) to travel into and out of the surrounding waterways. Boat operators will take you out to the less inhabited areas such as Cayo Costa. Boats, canoes, and kayaks can be rented throughout the area and are one of the best ways to search for dolphins in harder to access areas.
Great Pine Island Area Dolphin Watching Spots
Cayo Costa State Park – Cayo Costa is an island located just west of Pine Island with 9-1/2 miles of beach. It is accessible only by boat. From Pine Island, you can take the Tropic Star ferry to this gorgeous and secluded island. The waters around Cayo Costa itself, and the water between Captiva and Cayo Costa are teeming with dolphins!
Bridgewater Inn – This is a floating motel! Located right on Pine Island Sound in Matlacha on Pine Island, the Bridgewater Inn is built on a dock so each room has the ocean literally right outside its door. The location of the inn is perfect for dolphin watching. In fact the dolphins (and manatees) visit just about every day and sometimes several times a day.
Matlacha Pass & Bridge – Just after the Bridgewater Inn on Pine Island is the Matlacha Bridge. Nicknamed the “World’s Most Fishingest Bridge” this is also a great dolphin watching spot. Where there are fish, there are usually dolphins too! So, if you are not staying at the Bridgewater Inn you can watch for dolphins from this spot too.
Nearby is Bert’s Bar and Grill with its “million dollar view” of the pass. Another choice in Matlacha is the Sandy Hook Fish and Rib House which also has an incredible view. Both restaurants offer great vantage points of the dolphin playground.
Jug Creek Basin – Jug Creek, a river in Bookelia on the northern portion of Pine Island, attracts the playful dolphins. For a great view of this area you could stay at the Bocilla Island Club, eat at the Lazy Flamingo, take a cruise or rent a boat from Jug Creek Marina, or rent a boat or stay in a condo at the Four Winds Marina complex. Each of these Bookelia establishments has a prime location on Jug Creek itself.
Know of any other great dolphin watching spots in Pine Island? Let me know!
For more info on visiting Pine Island, check out http://www.pineislandfl.com/