The thing about the keys is that there are hundreds of them, it’s not just Key West like people think. I read that there are 1700 keys. 1700 separate islands. Hot dang. Rather than post separately about different areas of interest, I’m encompassing all of a day’s adventures into a single tale of intrigue and excitement.
My current love interest and I packed a picnic and a blanket then took off at 4am for an impromptu southbound day trip with the intention of stopping whenever we see cool shit. I’ve been to the keys before but everything we did this time was new, which is what I love about these types of trips. If you travel with a loose agenda you’ll be more open to seeing things you’ve missed before. I’ll likely do another Florida Keys post for another day or weekend trip at some point that will be entirely different.
Our first stop was Anne’s Beach in Islamorada. It’s located off of Overseas Highway between mile markers 73 and 74. I had initially read about this beach on http://www.bringfido.com awhile ago when I was looking for a good place to let my dog experience the ocean for the first time. We parked in the 2nd parking area on your left (going south), where there are just a few spots. I found this to be one of the most relaxing beach experiences I’ve ever had. The water is perfectly clear and shallow atop hard-packed sand with very few waves, so we were able to walk far out into the smooth water as the sun was rising. You can walk along the boardwalk that leads from one parking area to another or there’s a sand path leading through the mangroves to another small cove then ultimately to the boardwalk.
Several picnic areas lie along the boardwalk overlooking the water and, I must say, I strongly desire to return and have a cute ass picnic in one of those spots.
This is a beach I absolutely recommend for anyone heading to the Islamorada area. We noticed that it was fairly crowded on our way back at about 5pm, but in the morning it was deserted.
Link to Anne’s Beach on Trip Advisor: Anne’s Beach Reviews and Photos
As we headed further south we began seeing signs that we were in key deer habitat on Big Pine Key. Key deer are endangered and indigenous to this island. People say they see them all the time and that they’re very friendly, which is why there are so many signs about respecting them. I had never seen one until this day. The first spotting was a little dude grazing and being cute along the fence on overseas highway. I lost my shit and screamed for more deer. After a quick google search of “best place to see key deer” I came across the Florida Rambler blog mentioning No Name Key. We followed these directions: head east on Wilder Road (a major intersection with street light) from Overseas Highway, following signs to No Name Key. Turn right onto Watson Blvd and follow it over the bridge to the end of the road. Once over the bridge we saw deer coming out into the street to approach us. It’s very important to drive slowly through here. I got out of the car to walk and the deer came up and licked my hand. It was exhilarating.
We drove to the end of the road a pulled over to check out the beach area.
We walked through the mangroves to the beach, which smelled fishy as hell. There’s a lot of seaweed so this isn’t a swimming area. We saw a pond and heard lots of birds through the trees but couldn’t get closer without walking into spider webs so we retreated and tried to find another way through the slushy water. Poor decision. I sunk in knee deep after 2 steps then my current love interest cut his foot on an unknown sharp sludge-encased object. Don’t schlup through sludge. I should’ve known better but I was too pumped on being an explorer.
Here is some information about the National Key Deer Refuge
Next stop was Key West itself. I find that I prefer the upper, quieter keys because I’m a square bear that prefers serenity and relaxation to hustle and bustle. I had only been to Key West one time before so we decided to make out on a pier for a minute then see what’s around aside from Duval Street and Mallory Square.
We ended up following signs to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, and we got there shortly before the guided tour so of course we did it cuz we’re nerdz. We also enjoyed a cute picnic under a tree and swam in the ocean to cool off after the tour because it was hotter than the devil’s dickhole that day, especially within the confines of those grief-stricken walls. They say it’s one of the most haunted places in America because a lot of people died there from yellow fever contracted by communal shitting. We went into the powder room (where they kept gun powder) and turned off our lights to see if we would get got but all I got was claustrophobia in the complete darkness.
One note about going for a dip in the ocean at this park- it’s rocky and unforgiving. Walk carefully.
Link: Fort Taylor State Park
At this point we decided to work our way back home when we passed the Key West Wildlife Center. It’s not a huge facility but it’s a well-maintained property with a nice walking path and enclosures for patients in recovery. The wildlife center primarily rehabilitates birds and works with The Dolphin Research Center and The Turtle Hospital, both further north in the keys. There are iguanas running around like lunatics, a pond at the end of the path filled with turtles, and rehabilitated birds who now just live around the property.
Our last stop was a bridge in Sugarloaf Key that is known as a hot spot for jumping and swimming. To get there from Overseas Highway, turn east at Mile Marker 17 onto Sugarloaf Blvd. follow the road for a bit until it turns sharply right. You’ll see a yellow gate on your left at the turn. Park along the road and walk under the gate to follow the dirt road to the bridge. It’s a 1/4 mile walk or something like that. You’ll find yourself on a bridge above a flowing waterway perfect for relaxation on a hot ass Florida day.
When we got back home we ate a giant pizza and passed out. Solid day.