As this review goes live, many people in the USA and Canada are probably wishing they could be staying at a place like Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island, Florida. Far away from wintry gusts, ice storms, and snow, the grounds here are shaded by palm trees and the orange sun sets each night over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
This cozy lodge with the charm of old Florida is north of Fort Myers, on a large island that’s mostly residential. To get here you head west from I-75 toward the Gulf and cross onto the island through the colorful town of Matlacha, where it’s worth stopping for a bite to eat or at least some ice cream. After a meandering drive on roads that are seldom crowded, you get to the two-story collection of buildings making up Tarpon Lodge, next to a marina filled with pleasure fishing boats. You can charter one for some fishing, maybe snagging a big namesake tarpon, or explore the islands nearby that extend north from Sanibel and Captiva. (The lodge here shares ownership with the long-established Cabbage Key Inn and restaurant—the only place to stay on that small island with no roads.)