South of the 7-mile bridge is Big Pine Key. A hidden gem that blends natural beauty, captivating history, and a peaceful island atmosphere. The island’s name comes from large, ancient pine trees that once adorned its landscape. Located a short drive from Key West, this charming island beckons visitors to explore its allure and indulge in memorable experiences.
The History of Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key has a colorful history. Tracing back to early settlers and Calusa Native Americans who inhabited the area centuries ago. Over time, the island witnessed shipwrecks, pirate legends, and connections to the Prohibition era. Today, remnants of this storied past can still be discovered and appreciated.
The Key Deer
The island is home to the enchanting National Key Deer Refuge, a sanctuary for the endangered Key deer. While standing just three feet tall, these adorable creatures roam freely through the island’s neighborhoods and are cherished symbols of the area. Exploring the refuge’s trails and observing these gentle deer in their natural habitat is a must-do experience.
Things to Do and See in Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key offers abundant outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island are ideal for snorkeling, diving, and fishing. Dive sites like Looe Key Reef and the Adolphus Busch wreck offer breathtaking underwater adventures and opportunities to witness colorful coral formations and diverse marine life. Kayaking and paddleboarding through serene backcountry channels provide a peaceful way to immerse oneself in the island’s natural wonders.
For beach lovers, Bahia Honda State Park is located nearby. A paradise with pristine beaches, picnic areas, and nature trails. It’s the perfect place to unwind and marvel at stunning vistas.
Big Pine Key also boasts several parks and recreational facilities:
- Big Pine Community Park offers various options, including a skate park, community center, tennis, bocce, handball, shuffleboard courts, playground, fitness trail, and a roller hockey rink/basketball court.
- Blue Heron Park features Pickle Ball courts. Presently other areas are under construction and closed to the public.
- Pine Channel Nature Park, the newest addition, boasts an extensive boardwalk with an elevated viewing platform, a kayak launch area, and a swimming hole with a swim platform. Visitors can also spot one of the few remaining original markers from Henry Flagler’s Railroad.
- Lastly, The Blue Hole, an abandoned rock quarry used for building roads, and Henry Flagler’s Railroad offer a scenic walk to observe local wildlife, including alligators, Key deer, and various bird species.
Why Big Pine Key?
Its vibrant community and local culture complement the laid-back atmosphere. The island hosts various events throughout the year, such as art festivals, live music performances, as well as seafood festivals celebrating the unique flavors of the Florida Keys. If you want to explore it for yourself, check out our vacation rentals in the area.