About Us At Bridgewater
Bridgewater Inn – The Talk of Matlacha
With some of Florida’s best sunsets, fishing right outside your door, and dolphins and manatee visiting pretty much every day, BridgeWater Inn is an ideal spot for your next getaway!
“We had our own private theater of the sea – and it was just 10 steps from our bed…I knew this was the perfect alternative to our customary frenzied vacations. Instead of a drab hotel corridor, we stepped out to our own fishing hole. And as promised, we slumbered “inn” the water – the nine-room motel is built on a pier” – Palm Beach Post
Bridgewater Inn has been featured in Onshore Offshore Magazine and has also been mentioned as one of the top destinations when visiting Florida in two major magazines: Spirit (Southwest Airline’s) and Florida Travel and Life. It has also received an Award Of Excellence.
A Colorful History of BridgeWater Inn
The BridgeWater Inn is a landmark and an attraction in Matlacha. The Inn was patterned after the stilt fish houses that peppered with the waters of Pine Island Sound from the early-mid 1900s. The fish houses together were called fishing camps. Some housed the fishermen and their families, some were for storing the day’s catch and drying nets and some were used as ice houses. Walls were often filled with sand and shells to keep the heat out. Sadly, only a few of these unique structures still remain, and all are privately owned. Several are used as cottages – talk about getting away from it all!
In 1925, a rough road was built to link the Florida mainland with Pine Island by connecting through the islands of Matlacha. By the start of the Great Depression in 1929, folks eager for a break, came by boat and the new road to stake out a piece of shoreline or a spot in the water. Most lived in tents, cars and trucks. Though life was hard, the fishing was legendary and there was plenty to eat – more than what many had elsewhere. These settlers eventually built docks and shanties along what is now Pine Island Road, eventually earning them homestead rights. To get a feeling for this bit of Americana, read “Pioneer, Go Home!” by Fort Myers author, Richard Powell. The novel later became an Elvis Presley movie called “Follow That Dream” (1962).
Some earlier memories of BridgeWater Inn date back to 1960s, when it was known simply as “the hotel”. The way the story goes is that a local preacher built a dock and then rented a few boats, sometimes just for a share of the fresh fish brought back. Occasionally, hungry homesteaders would trade building materials for the use of a boat and then the dock would grow a little more, eventually sprouting a basic building – built in one weekend, we are told. How and when that building became “the hotel” is up to debate.
Stories about BridgeWater Inn and the celebrities and characters that have stayed here abound. A favorite tells about the snowbird who rented a room for the entire Season. When he moved out, the owner found that the guest had cut a trap door in the middle of the floor in his room so he could fish for Snook beyond regulation size! There are lots of big Snook still around, but you’ll have to catch them from our fishing deck, as the door is long gone.
Speaking of Snook, a local legend who has been fishing these waters for many years, tells a story of a Snook that’s “A whopper! A real record-setter for sure!” still waiting to be caught around the Inn. Come on down – maybe you’ll be the lucky angler who’s name is added to the history of BridgeWater Inn!
We enjoy the “reel life” here at BridgeWater and we invite you to come and experience our Florida.
Hurricanes are an unfortunate reality for the Gulf Coast. Normally we have several days advance warning for these storms. If a hurricane is tracking to Southwest Florida and a mandatory evacuation is ordered, we will issue a credit for a future stay for any unused portion of a reservation after check-in occurs.
In the event of a voluntary evacuation, we will issue a credit for a future stay for any unused portion of a reservation after check-in occurs. If the storm is down graded to a Tropical Storm or if no evacuation orders are issued, there will be no refunds for cancellations or for early departures.
Please feel free to purchase travel insurance for your trip via a third party vendor at your own expense should you be traveling to our area during hurricane season.
The “Fishingest Bridge in the World”!
Photo By Airborne Pilot – This file has been extracted from another file: Aerial view of old Matlacha Bridge and part of West Island in 2008.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58274346