Pine Island is “old Florida.” This term denotes the way this rapidly growing state was at least two generations ago. Sharon wisely chose to base our month-long stay away from the high rises and hustle and bustle of the cities.
At a length of 17 miles and a width of two miles, Pine Island is the largest island in Florida. It is a barrier island off the coast from the cities of Cape Coral and Fort Myers. With a population of just 9,000 people and not a single stoplight, Pine Island is a laid back place that we thoroughly explored and enjoyed.
With a whole month to discover the natural treasures of Southwest Florida, our strategy was to start by exploring the island and generally go farther and farther. Our main guide was the South Section of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. This wonderful resource catalogs the best sites to find Florida’s birds. Pine Island itself actually doesn’t have any Great Florida Birding sites, but it still has lots of great birds.
Our exploration of Pine Island got off to a great start on our first full day there. Driving the main road through the island, we saw a raptor that I had never seen before, a Red-shouldered Hawk. Later we saw several more and appreciated that they are about as common in Florida as Red-tailed Hawks are in Colorado, but my first view of it was an exciting discovery for me.