There are swarms of tourists strolling up and down Matlacha‘s main drag this time of year. They check out the shops and eat at places like Great Licks. They also do something that surprises many locals. They walk past the Matlacha Park entrance adjacent to the Blue Dog restaurant. The park is not a destination by itself, but as a part of Matlacha, it definitely is. There’s a lot there.
Matlacha Park is an island with a little bridge connecting it to the island of Matlacha. It has both a kayak launch and a power boat ramp. There’s no fee for the paddle craft but there is a $10 a day parking fee for the boat ramp. Sixty dollars will get you an annual pass.
There are two places to fish from, both free. From the Matlacha fishing pier you can cast into Matlacha Pass. From a small dock by the kayak launch you can fish in a canal. The fishing is better off the two bigger bridges in Matlacha, especially the Matlacha Bridge, but in the park, you’re not fishing next to cars whizzing by.
Land Based Recreation.
Matlacha Park has a basketball court, exercise area, picnic tables and some short trails to explore. It also has a great playground for kids. There are buildings which host art shows, lectures and other gatherings, such as the mullet toss.
Matlacha Park Wildlife
Matlacha Park has two active osprey nests now. It also has a string of power poles which are often used by the birds as feeding stations. This time of year will often have pelicans resting in the mangroves along the west side of the park. In summer fiddler crabs are sometimes scurrying around the perimeter. They are caught by fishermen and used as bait, especially for sheepshead. Any time of the year you’ll see bold squirrels.
You may not want to visit Matlacha just for the park, but when in town, the park is worth a visit.