What do you think of when you hear someone mention the beautiful Florida Keys? Sunshine and palm trees? Seafood and Key lime pie? What about Key deer and sweeping ocean views? Big Pine Key, as its name suggests, is big on character and charm, and it fits right in with the grace and glamor you expect from South Florida destinations. The best part is that you can stay in a stunning vacation home that allows you to enjoy the true beauty of this area!
Situated off of mile marker 30 on U.S. 1, Big Pine Key is a roughly 5,000-person community in Monroe County in the lower Florida Keys. U.S. 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, is the only way to access the island unless you're traveling by sea. Recognized as one of the larger keys, the community is named after its native pines.
Big Pine Key is one of the 1,700 islands (many of which are uninhabitable) that compose the Florida Keys, and it shares several features with these other islands - namely its beauty and diversity. Big Pine Key, however, separates itself from the other island communities in that it is home to the endangered species of Key deer, which are about the size of a medium dog. Found all around the island, these knee-high animals are friendly and adorable and add a surprising touch to the island.
The National Key Deer Refuge is an 8,500-acre refuge of mostly undeveloped pinelands. Home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, including more than 20 endangered and threatened plant and animal species, the refuge offers the opportunity for you explore the nature specific to this area of Florida. Visitors are invited to fish and engage in environmental education.
Blue Hole is another area that boasts an opportunity for exploration. The only freshwater lake in the Florida Keys, this spot is an abandoned rock quarry that is home to lots of wildlife, including alligators, birds, snakes, and green iguanas. Hike around this area for a chance to spot a colorful bird or bright iguana.
Snorkeling and diving are favorite pastimes around these parts. There are several places that will accommodate day and night dive and snorkel trips for those less-experienced travelers. The 210-foot wreck of Adolphus Busch, Sr. is easily accessible from Big Pine Key, as is the Looe Key coral reef, part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In fact, every year, an underwater music festival is held at the coral reef. Attendees are invited to explore the last living coral reef in the continental United States as they sway and swim to a sub-sea concert.
Just a little more than two dozen miles away lies the island chain of Marathon. With its mangrove and coral reefs, it boasts diverse landscapes and wildlife befitting of a gorgeous Sunshine State destination.
Fewer than 30 miles away sits the renowned Key West. Characterized by a lively arts culture and tons of outdoor activities, this ecotourist-friendly city will wow you with its beauty and charm.
When Florida is calling your name and you just can't shake that desire for a tropical getaway, give Big Pine Key and our beautiful vacation rentals a try. You'll find yourself leaving with more than just a nice tan: you'll take with you a lifetime of fun-in-the-sun memories.
Photo credit: Thomas James Caldwell via Flickr