The Lower Florida Keys have some well-known destinations. Lying between the Middle Florida Keys and Key West, with Big Pine Key’s Key Deer and Bahia Honda State Park’s beaches as well as one of the top diving spots, Looe Key, will keep visitors busy and happy. There are also many historic locations to satisfy any visitor. This list provides many venues to enjoy.
- Head out on the water, in a kayak or paddleboard or other watercraft, at dawn or just before sunset (launch points include Bahia Honda State Park, Old Wooden Bridge Cottages, and Marina, Cudjoe Key / Blimp Road Public Boat Ramp, Sugarloaf Key West Boat Ramp), when the sea and the sky meet in a mirrored glaze and the light is otherworldly. Drift along quietly enjoying the changing colors and the aquatic and winged creatures.
- Snorkel at the many patch reef in the Lower Keys such as the ones around Looe Key. Snorkeling can also be done in Bahia Honda State Park along the Atlantic side of the island just a few hundred feet from the shoreline. The water only reaches four to six feet in depth in the area, making it ideal for beginning snorkelers or people who prefer the safety of snorkeling in shallow water. More experienced snorkelers may head into the Bahia Honda Channel, although the current gets strong in the area.
- Kayak or stand-up paddle around the mangrove islands of the Content Keys, to the west of Big Pine Key. Visit the many paddle shops for advice on their favorite paddling spots to explore or tag along on some guided tours. If you’re quiet enough you’ll see many of 250 species of birds as they roost, hunt, or wade in our coastal paradise.
- Go fishing for bonefish, tarpon, trout, redfish, and snapper in the backcountry waters or grouper, mackerel, dolphin, wahoo and tuna on the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you bring or rent your own boat or hire one of the local charters you are sure to have a great time.
- The National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key is a great spot to see and learn about the Key Deer which are unique to the lower Florida Keys. They are perfectly adapted to living in the wild, they may, however, approach people looking for handouts; please help us keep them healthy and wild by not feeding them.
- Visit the Bat Tower on Sugarloaf Key, built in 1929 by Richter Clyde Perky, a fish lodge owner, to control the mosquito problem in the Lower Keys.
UPDATE: This long-standing Lower Keys landmark was knocked down by Hurricane Irma.
- You must visit Bahia Honda State Park where you can enjoy several beaches and trails. Calusa is the smallest beach on the NW side of the island. There are pavilions a restroom with outdoor, freshwater showers. Loggerhead is the shallowest beach and is located on the south side of the island. It is known for the large shallow sand bar just a few feet offshore. Sandspur is the largest beach; it is located on the SE end of the island. There are three large pavilions in the Sandspur area and a restroom with outdoor, freshwater showers. The park has three nature trails. The Silver Palm Trail at the SE end of the island, there is a self-guided brochure available. The trail on the SW end of the island in the Calusa area leads you to the top of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. The view is spectacular; from the top of the bridge you can see the entire island. You can also take a leisurely stroll through the Wings and Waves Butterfly Garden located near the Loggerhead parking lot.
- Of course, you have to eat and there are so many great places to eat. They include longtime favorite restaurants like Square Grouper Bar and Grill, Mangrove Mama’s, No Name Pub. Just remember to try as many as possible.
- The nightlife heavily favors island motifs and music but there are many varied choices for you to enjoy no matter what your preferences. Some can’t miss locations include Coconuts Lounge and Package, Looe Key Tiki Bar.
- Last but not least a visit to the Big Pine Key Flea Market should be on everyone list. It has been continuously operating since 1983 providing our customers a wide range of items at unbeatable prices. With a mix of new and used merchandise, you are sure to find something for everyone.