Travel Spotlight: A Guide to Southwest Florida Posted on 13 Aug 11:02 , 0 comments

IMG_0243 (3) Most people will concur, it’s nice to get away from the ruckus of every-day life from time to time. Sometimes it is a necessity to tune out and take a digital detox. Recently, part of the Nomaterra team had a chance to visit Southwest Florida and the pristine white sandy beaches of North Captiva Island, which provided a wonderful experience of true seclusion. Of course, to perfectly complement our seaside journey, we brought along a couple of our favorite Nomaterra scents: Malibu Honeysuckle and Miami Orange Blossom. IMG_0032 (1) IMG_0030 (2) IMG_0017 (1) IMG_0009 (1) IMG_0002 The tropical paradise, known as North Captiva Island, is located on the Gulf of Mexico off Southwest Florida. Being that this remote and undiscovered private island community is only accessible by ferry, private boat or a small plane, it provided a nostalgic outlook of old Florida as it once was during a simpler time. Part of the Lee Island Coast barrier island chain, the island is dispersed across an extensive state land preserve and is filled with million dollar homes that border seven miles of immaculate beaches. The stunning island was filled with gorgeous tropical Frangipani (Plumeria) trees, giving the island an amazing aroma of citrus, pineapple, and coconut. Interestingly, you will find no cars, crowds, or paved roads as you travel by golf cart or bicycle on sandy trails. IMG_0090 (1) IMG_0088 (1) IMG_0081 IMG_0080 IMG_0078 IMG_0007 (1) If isolation stirs up fears of boredom – do not fear. North Captiva Island offers some of the best shelling around, as visitors can find many rare and colorful shells. Additionally, the island provides a vast array of recreational activities such as tennis, swimming, golfing, biking, kayaking, boating, parasailing, scuba diving and fishing. Needless to say, boredom is not an issue. Guests can also bask in the grandeur of watching sunrise and sunset on striking beaches, or in viewing a pod of dolphins as they catch an early lunch of tarpon. IMG_0094 (1) IMG_0097 (1) IMG_0045 In addition to North Captiva Island, we took a half-day visit to the small community of Matlacha, which is located on Pine Island and part of the Cape Coral – Fort Myers metropolitan area. Matlacha is an “Old Florida” fishing village and is home to many brightly colored art galleries, island boutiques, seafood restaurants, and traditional Floridian cottages. We stopped in for lunch at Mulletville Waterside Seafood Restaurant where we shared a small plate of stone crab legs, a wedge salad with blue cheese crumbles and smoked bacon (to die for!), and a side of rice and bean. All dishes were delicious! We also browsed Matlacha’s charming boutiques and art galleries, such as Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens which features an array of eccentric pieces from paintings to painted furniture. Wildchild Art Gallery featured whimsical scenes of wildlife and sea life motifs, sculptures, garden furnishings, and other unique novelty items. Frills, a small gift boutique, was filled with cute casual skirts, dresses, swimsuit cover-ups, and handmade jewelry. The town of Matlacha most definitely proved to be an art-connoisseur’s utopia. Even the telephone poles were painted with murals! IMG_0236 IMG_0235 IMG_0234 IMG_0233 IMG_0232 (1) The last journey on our trip was to historical downtown of Punta Gorda, which is situated along beautiful Charlotte Harbor and just 30 minutes north of Matlacha. Punta Gorda is an architecturally rich “True Florida” boating town that offers an old Florida atmosphere. Cobbled streets are lined with huge royal palms, historical period homes, and vintage street lights, as well as trendy restaurants, bistros, spas, and eclectic shopping. One could also partake in Punta Gorda’s art walk, which circuits the city’s ten outdoor murals, each depicting the city’s natural and cultural histories, or engage in a number of environmental and wildlife centers such as Peace River Wildlife Center. Visitors can also tour the town’s varied museums such as the Museum of African-American History and Culture, or go for a jog along winding trails and pathways in Laishley Park on Peace River or Gilchrist Park along the harbor. Short on time, we decided to skip out on the art walk and focus on taking Punta Gorda’s historical walking excursion, which takes a lovely stroll along the town’s History District. Many of the homes were built in the late 1800s. Unfortunately, 2004’s Hurricane Charley extensively damaged many of the homes, structures, and historical landmarks. However, a revitalization of the City took place in the immediate years after the storm and resulted in the restoration of buildings. Along our tour, we saw the most amazing and beautiful Banyan tree, which was located on a Historical Landmark, where the first home built in Punta Gorda once resided. IMG_0106 (1) IMG_0104 (2) After our leisurely promenade and sightseeing the beautiful historic homes, we took a quick visit to Fisherman’s Village. The waterfront village is a brightly colored complex that comprises of several boutiques, candy and coffee shops, gift shops, restaurants, and a resort and marina, all under one roof. To finalize the evening, we decided to have dinner alongside a gorgeous sunset. Our chosen restaurant (mostly for the view) was Hurricane Charley’s Raw Bar & Grill. This dockside bar, part of PG’s Waterfront Hotel and Suites, provided an amazing front-side view to one of nature’s most incredible shows – sunset. Not to mention, the restaurant featured great live music and our dishes were equally amazing and tasty. We shared the Blue Crab Tower which consisted of jumbo lump and back fin crab meat mixed with avocado, mango and arugula topped with a champagne vinaigrette (yum!), and the Shrimp Grits – gulf shrimp sautéed in Cajun spices and Tasso ham atop home style cheese grits and topped with sauce creole (double yum!). The meal was impressive and best of all, we got to watch an incredible sun down. Needless to say, the meal and sunset was a delightful cap off to the evening. IMG_0239 IMG_0111 (2)    

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Tell us, where’s the most remote destination you've visited?