Minutes from downtown Ft. Myers and with a population of 735, Matlacha is one of those offbeat places that receives little publicity and is hardly known beyond the southwestern corner of the state. But the fact that it’s not a tourist destination is what makes Matlacha so special.

Book a few nights in one of the handful of lodging options on the island, pour yourself a tropical cocktail and watch the palm trees sway in the breeze. Cast a line off the “fishingest bridge in the world,” take in a local band at Bert’s Bar & Grill and top off your meal with delicious homemade ice cream from Great Licks. (The Toasted Coconut is to die for!) Or do a little shopping at the colorfully-painted art galleries and specialty boutiques that line Matlacha’s main drag. (For many, this is the highlight of their trip.)

Oh, and did I mention how friendly and laid-back the folks of Matlacha are? You won’t go two minutes after arriving on the island before you’re greeted by someone wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops. And most are willing to share secrets about their little corner of paradise, including how to pronounce “Matlacha.”