While you’re looking at the endless river of sawgrass and watching Roseate Spoonbills soar over as you’re driving east down the scenic road of U.S. 41, you might be surprised to come across a hidden oasis before you reach Everglades City. This community is known as the Port of the Islands and has more to it than meets the eye. The name fits the retreat perfectly as “The Port” sits on the edge of the water with a direct opening, the Faka Union Canal, to the Gulf of Mexico and the Ten Thousand Islands.
The history behind these buildings and community is noteworthy, as it was the beginning of Cape Coral and Golden Gate Estates. Back in the 1960s, the Port of the Islands began as Remuda Ranch, a luxury hotel where potential investors, consumers and visitors were flown in and catered to in order to experience the unique splendor of Southwest Florida. Remuda Ranch was built and used by the real estate developer, Gulf American Land Corporation, up until the corporation sold. In 1980, a developer named Bill Ray obtained the land and acquired a $7 Million bond in an attempt to complete the community. After Ray passed in 1991, his family auctioned off the remaining land in 1994 to contractors and private entities. Thus began the start of the completion of many homes, villas and condos in Orchid Cove, Sunrise Cay, Sunset Cay, Villages at Stella Maris and more throughout the community.
Although the Port of the Islands is filled with houses and villas, the community in fact has an array of amenities to enjoy. Their own Fire Department, Station 61, sits not too far from the hotel and there is a full-service marina with boat ramps and docks to use so you can embark on an aquatic adventure in the Everglades. On the other side of the highway are the two Gun Clubs that sit far behind the Orchid Cove Condos. Gulf Coast Clays and Louland Gun Range are ranges where you can recreationally shoot clays and skeet. The Port of the Islands Hotel, also known as the Everglades Resort, is home base for “The Port.” Many people have family reunions, baby showers, fundraisers, holiday parties and even weddings at the hotel. My sister had her wedding here back in October of 2017 and it was beautiful. Everglades City School would have their proms and sports banquets in the ballrooms; back when the Port of the Islands was Remuda Ranch.
The hotel is a two-toned light pink and tan with a large archway covering a porte-cochere. When you walk inside, the large double doors open up to a striking room where the foyer stands with the receptionist’s desk on the left. The middle of the room has multiple wicker couches and chairs with floral cushions to lounge in and relax as you gaze upon the large picture of a Great Egret over the fireplace. On each side of the fireplace are grand staircases that lead up to the second-floor rooms. To the right of the lobby is an incredibly delicious restaurant, Angler’s Cove, where my sister and I love to eat. The restaurant and bar offer tasty cuisines like Seafood Mac and Cheese and Almond Salmon. They also serve sandwiches and American style food. Their Seafood Mac and Cheese made with fresh seafood are what my sister eats while I love their Chicken Parmesan. The bar is on the opposite side of the dining room, separated by a wall. There you can find live nightly entertainment by Paddle Faster Blue Grass, rising country music singer and songwriter Matt Chappell, and more special guest singers. The easygoing and fun atmosphere makes you not want to give up your barstool to leave. Angler’s Cove Restaurant and Bar is family owned and operated by Joyce and Skip Brownlee. Joyce usually hangs out in the restaurant and is so kind to everyone. When my sister and I eat there we always give Joyce a big hug and sit with her to catch up.
If you haven’t already stumbled upon this hidden retreat, I recommend that you check it out. With the history behind the community, boat ramps to use to embark on Everglades adventures and a tasty restaurant to eat at, the Port of the Islands is a truly unique gem.