In the year 1513, famous Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, finding no suitable anchorage for his 3-ship flotilla on the southeastern coast of Florida, proceeded to sail around the tip of the state and then north up the Gulf coast. On May 23rd, he discovered the “islands that jutted out into the sea.” Finding an opening between Cayo Costa and Gasparilla Islands, he sailed into Charlotte Harbor, anchoring eventually in a protected sound off an 18 mile-long island covered with tropical foliage. The sound was Pine Island Sound and the tropical island, of course, Pine Island. In a return trip to the area in 1521, Ponce de Leon was fatally wounded by an arrow in a fight with native Calusa Indians. He died a few days later in Hispaniola.
Still comprised primarily of unspoiled natural terrain, featuring lush, tropical and subtropical foliage, hundreds of inlets, creeks, bays and sounds, all teaming with fish and wildlife, Pine Island is today one of the last areas on the Gulf coast that still looks like it did over 100 years ago.
Approximately 9,500 year-round residents reside in four basic communities. They are Matlacha, Pineland, St. James City and Bokellia. Pine Island is Southwest Florida’s last frontier with its unique position, surrounded by water, including Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound as well as being close to the outer, barrier islands of Sanibel and Capitva. For many it has become already become “The Enchanted Island” of the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast.
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