Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Where is Pine Island Florida? No More Confusion!

Here is a trivia question for you. What state has two well-known islands with the same name? Only in Florida will you find two Pine Islands.

If you Google Pine Island Florida, you will see article after article about the largest island in Florida located in Lee County west of Fort Myers. All of this information would be fine IF there was only one Pine Island in Florida.

If you dig a little deeper, you will find another Pine Island Florida further up the coastline north of Clearwater and Tarpon Springs in Hernando County. The query where is Pine Island Florida is even more confused when you add in the Big Pine Key (which is an island) located in the Florida Keys.

We are ending the confusion with Pine Island maps (below) of the coastal islands with the same name. To distinguish the two islands, we will use the names Pine Island South and Pine Island North. While Pine Island Florida South is much bigger than Pine Island North, if we called it Big Pine Island it would immediately be confused with Big Pine Key which is an island! Confused yet?

Don’t miss some of the colorful shops as you enter Pine Island on Route 78.

Pine Island Florida South

Pine Island in Lee County Florida is about 18 miles long. It runs north and south as a barrier to the mainland. Fort Myers Florida is directly east. The island is about 17 square miles which means it is long and narrow.

The population of Pine Island South is about 9000 people, but seasonally its population grows in the winter months. There is only one road onto the island.

What is Pine Island Known For?

Pine Island is surrounded by mangroves and lush flats covered with seagrasses. Pine Island is known for:

  1. Natural Beauty: Pine Island is celebrated for its unspoiled natural beauty. It features lush tropical vegetation, mangroves, and diverse wildlife, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  1. Fishing: The island is renowned for its exceptional fishing opportunities, both inshore and offshore. Anglers visit Pine Island to catch a variety of fish, including snook, redfish, trout, and tarpon.
  1. Boating: With its easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and numerous canals, Pine Island is a popular place for boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The island’s waterways offer beautiful scenery and opportunities for exploration.
  1. Birdwatching: Pine Island is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, making it a fantastic location for birdwatching. Bird enthusiasts can spot a wide variety of bird species, including wading birds and migratory birds.
  1. Art and Culture: The island is home to a thriving arts community, with galleries and studios showcasing local artists’ work. The annual “Island Arts Festival” is a popular event for art lovers.
  1. Quaint Communities: Pine Island is divided into several small communities, each with its own unique charm. These communities include Matlacha, Bokeelia, St. James City, and Pineland.
  1. Historical Sites: Pine Island also has historical sites and landmarks, such as the Randell Research Center, which is dedicated to the study of the Calusa Native American culture.
  1. Relaxing Atmosphere: Pine Island is known for its relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, providing a respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Pine Island is also known for its access to other barrier islands to the west such as Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa and others.

Bokeelia Pier on where is Pine Island Florida
While there are no big white sandy beaches on Pine Island there are some great places to view Mother Nature

Pine Island Beaches

Pine Island, Florida, is not particularly known for its traditional sandy beaches like you might find in other coastal areas of Florida. Instead, it is more famous for its mangrove shorelines, estuaries, and access to the Gulf of Mexico, making it a haven for boating, fishing, and nature enthusiasts.

While Pine Island doesn’t have the typical beach experience with long stretches of sandy shoreline, there are some waterfront areas where you can access the water and enjoy the coastal environment.

Popular beaches in this area include Ft. Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva and the remote Cayo Costa.

The Cities on Pine Island

  1. Matlacha: This colorful little berg is on State Road 78 as you enter the island. There are restaurants, shops and motels that cater to the boating and fishing community. This is an important ecological area and a great place for kayaking and observing marine life.
  2. Bokeelia: This community on the northern end of Pine Island has some waterfront areas and parks, such as Bokeelia Community Park, where you can access the water and enjoy the scenic views.
Pine island florida low key tiki at St. James City
This colorful Low Key Tiki at St James City is one of the bars and restaurants in St James City

3. James City: St. James City is another waterfront community where you can find places to enjoy the waterfront, go fishing, or launch a kayak or boat. We love the Ragged Ass Saloon in St. James City. It is one of our noted dive bars in Florida.

As we stated, there are no beaches on the island, but you won’t find a better place in Florida for kayaking and exploring the natural habitat.

Fishing in Pine Island Florida

There are few better places to fish for saltwater species. Fishing in Pine Island, Florida, is a popular and rewarding activity due to the island’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and its diverse waterways.

Here are some key aspects of fishing in Pine Island:

  1. Variety of Fishing – Pine Island offers a wide range of fishing opportunities, including inshore and offshore fishing. Noted for primarily inshore fishing, common catches include redfish, snook, trout, tarpon, snapper, and a variety of other species.
    Bokeelia Pier on where is Pine Island Florida
    You can catch many different species of fish around Pine Island Florida.
redfish at pine island florida
Fish like this redfish is all around Pine Island Florida.

The inshore waters around Pine Island, including areas like Matlacha Pass and Charlotte Harbor, are excellent for inshore fishing. These areas are known for their abundance of redfish, snook, and trout.

  1. Fishing Charters – Pine Island has numerous fishing charters and guides that can take you to the best fishing spots and provide you with the necessary equipment and knowledge.
  1. Kayak Fishing : Pine Island’s calm backwaters and estuaries are ideal for kayak fishing. It’s a serene and environmentally-friendly way to catch various species while enjoying the natural beauty.
  1. Fishing Tournaments – The island hosts various fishing tournaments and events throughout the year, attracting anglers from near and far.
  1. Fishing Supplies – Because of the huge popularity of fishing here, Pine Island has shops and outfitters where you can purchase bait, tackle, and fishing equipment.

Fishing regulations in Florida are actively enforced and should be consulted before getting to the island.

Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, Pine Island offers a range of fishing experiences in a beautiful and tranquil setting. It’s a great destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Directions to Pine Island Florida Lee County (South)

If you’re coming from other areas in Florida, you’ll generally want to make your way to I-75, which is a major north-south interstate running through the state. Then, you can take I-75 to the appropriate exit to reach Pine Island, which is accessed via Pine Island Road (Route 78).

You can also access Route 78 from the Tamiami Trail which is Route 41 that also runs north and south along the coast of Florida.

Pine Island can be accessed via a bridge from the mainland, and once you’re on the island, you can explore the various communities and enjoy the island’s natural beauty and recreational activities.

Pine Island Florida North (Hernando County)

As opposed to its namesake in south Florida, Pine Island Florida (Hernando County) North is only about 23 acres. We can assure you the 62 people living there are just as community oriented as their southern counterpart.

It should be noted that there are some big differences between the Pine Islands and some discernable similarities.

One of those similarities is that Pine Island North is also popular with tourists and snowbirds who swell the population in the winter.

What is Pine Island Hernando County Known For?

Pine Island in Hernando County, Florida, is known for its unique natural beauty and ecological significance. This small island, within the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, is recognized for several key features:

  1. Mangrove Ecosystem: Pine Island is part of a mangrove ecosystem, providing essential habitat for various marine and bird species. It’s a great place for birdwatching and wildlife observation.
  2. Birdwatching: The island is a popular destination for bird enthusiasts. It’s a vital stopover point for migratory birds, and you can spot a variety of bird species, especially during the migratory seasons.
  3. Ecological Conservation: Pine Island is a critical conservation area, and it’s part of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed to protect and preserve the unique flora and fauna of the region.
  4. Natural Scenery: Pine Island offers stunning natural landscapes and scenic views, including salt marshes, coastal areas, and tidal creeks. It’s a peaceful place to explore the coastal environment.
  5. Recreational Activities: While Pine Island itself is relatively undeveloped, it’s a great place for kayaking, canoeing, and boating. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities while experiencing the tranquility of this natural haven.
  6. Environmental Education: Pine Island’s ecological importance makes it an excellent location for educational programs and field trips related to environmental conservation and wildlife preservation.

As you can see, there are some limited resources for such a small island. However, we can attest to the natural beauty and considerable charm of the area.

Chassahowitzka River near Pine Island Hernando County Florida
The Chassahowitzka River is a beautiful river near Pine Island. Great place to see manatees in the winter.

Attractions Nearby Pine Island Hernando County

Pine Island in Hernando County, Florida, is a tranquil and nature-centric destination with a focus on conservation and wildlife. While it is relatively undeveloped, there are some nearby attractions and activities in the Hernando County and surrounding areas for visitors to enjoy.

Here are a few attractions near Pine Island Florida North:

  1. **Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge**: This is the larger wildlife refuge that Pine Island is a part of. It offers opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. You can explore the refuge’s other areas and trails.
  1. **Chassahowitzka Springs**: Located nearby, Chassahowitzka Springs is known for its crystal-clear waters, and it’s a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. The springs area is an essential part of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.
  1. **Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park**: Just a short drive away, this state park features wildlife exhibits, including manatees, Florida panthers, and more. It’s an excellent place for wildlife enthusiasts.
  1. **Weeki Wachee Springs State Park**: This park is famous for its underwater mermaid shows and water activities. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming in the pristine waters of the Weeki Wachee River.
  1. **Crystal River**: Crystal River, known for its manatee population, is not far from Pine Island. You can take manatee tours to see these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
  1. **Hiking and Biking Trails**: There are various hiking and biking trails in the area, including those in Withlacoochee State Forest, Croom Wildlife Management Area, and more.
  1. **Gulf Coast Beaches**: While Pine Island itself doesn’t have traditional beaches, the Gulf Coast beaches are within driving distance. You can visit beaches in nearby areas like Alfred A. McKethan Pine Island Park.
where is pine island florida McKethan Park
Even though the island is small, Pine Island has a 3 acre park called McKethan Park.
  1. **Historical Sites**: Explore historical sites in the region, such as the Hernando Historical Museum, the Florida Cracker Kitchen, and the Brooksville Historic Downtown District.

These attractions make Pine Island Hernando County quite enjoyable for a day trip in Florida. This is in contrast to Pine Island South which has few well know attractions as close as these.

Fishing in Pine Island Hernando County North

Fishing in and around Pine Island in Hernando County, Florida, offers a unique and serene experience in a natural and conservation-focused setting. While the island itself may not be a major fishing destination, there are excellent fishing opportunities in the nearby waters.

Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Chassahowitzka River -The Chassahowitzka River, which flows near Pine Island, is known for its fishing opportunities. You can catch a variety of fish, including redfish, snook, trout, and more in these brackish waters.
  1. Kayak Fishing – Pine Island and the surrounding areas are well-suited for kayak fishing. The calm waters, mangroves, and estuaries make it an ideal location for kayak anglers.
  1. Fishing Guides – Local fishing guides and charters are available to help you navigate the waters and find the best fishing spots. They can provide equipment, knowledge, and a customized fishing experience.
pine island florida airboat fishing
Many people fish with airboats in Pine Island Florida Hernando County. The waters can be shallow and the airboat can get into areas that regular boats can’t travel.

We don’t want to suggest the fishing is as robust as their southern cousin, but Pine Island in Hernando County is an excellent place for anglers who prefer a quieter and more back-county fishing environment. It’s known for its focus on environmental conservation, and anglers can enjoy a peaceful and natural setting while pursuing their favorite hobby.

Directions to Pine Island Hernando County

To get to Pine Island in Hernando County, Florida, you will need to follow specific directions depending on your starting location. Pine Island is a relatively secluded area.

However, here are general directions to Pine Island from the Tampa area, which is a common starting point:

From Tampa, Florida:

Take the Veterans Expressway (also known as Suncoast Parkway) Route 589 to Route 50. Exit west towards the coast. The road will turn into Cortex Blvd. and pass Weeki Wachee. Follow the road to Pine Island Drive.

It’s important to note that Pine Island in Hernando County is a more secluded and nature-focused area, so it may require some local landmarks to navigate effectively. The road will be a drive through natural habitat from Weeki Wachee west.

Confusion Ended for Pine Island Florida

Hopefully the confusion has ended. Either Pine Island is loaded with some of Florida’s best natural wooded areas and mangrove lined islands.

Determining which Pine Island Florida you decide to explore will be rewarding either way. A day trip in Florida or the beginning of a week long adventure.

Just remember, when you research where is Pine Island Florida, you choose the right one and don’t forget you have the answer to a trivia question about Florida.

Originally published at

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