The first thing to know about this colorful fishing village just east of Pine Island is how to pronounce it: Matt-luh-SHAY. The second thing to know is that you’re going to love it. An artists’ enclave full of brightly painted galleries, fish markets, dockside restaurants, and independent shops, Matlacha is a bridge of sorts between Pine Island and the mainland. The actual bridge linking those two areas is considered one of the region’s best for fishing. There are cute cottages and waterfront lodges where you can spend the night and local captains can take you on fishing and shelling tours to nearby barrier islands. The Matlacha Pass is part of the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail, and the village’s appealingly bohemian vibe comes with a strong outdoorsy element, too. Just don’t expect the ordinary here, as Matlacha is one of Florida‘s most unique waterside enclaves.

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