Big Pine Key Vacations

In Big Pine Key wildlife refuges protect rare and endangered animals. You’ll leave behind the commercialism of the Upper Keys for an authentic back country atmosphere.  This small group of islands is connected from the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge at Sunshine Key.  You’ll find family-owned resorts, RV parks, campgrounds, quaint B&B’s and licensed vacation homes, as well as eclectic restaurants, native wildernesses and rich history. Make sure to visit Bahia Honda State Park , where you’ll find white sandy beaches and abundant wildlife.  Frequently referred to as “one of the most beautiful beaches in America”.  Shop, dine or explore the National Key Deer Refuge, where Key Deer live.  Visit the freshwater habitat of the Blue Hole or No Name Key for a back country kayak adventure.   View the beautiful beaches of Key Largo and the Florida Keys here.

Big Pine Key Weather – When to Visit

From mid-December through mid-April, it will get a little busy in Big Pine Key. From November to mid-December crowds are thinner, the weather is great, and hotels and shops drastically reduce their prices. Summer is the second busiest time, especially among families, Europeans, bargain-seekers, and lobster divers.  From June through September, 90% humidity levels are not uncommon.  But weather in the Keys is more moderate than in mainland Florida.  The Keys also get much less rain than mainland Florida, mostly in quick downpours on summer afternoons. In hurricane season, June through November, the Keys get their fair share of warnings; pay attention to these, and evacuate earlier rather than later, when flights and automobile traffic get backed up.

Big Pine Key Attractions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dry-Tortugas-National-Park-300x200.jpgDry Tortugas National Park

Board the Yankee Freedom III for a ferry ride to The Dry Tortugas National Park.  Made up of seven small islands, it is one of the world’s most unique eco attractions. Its crown jewel, the historic Fort Jefferson, was once used as a prison during the Civil War. Explore and learn of its history with one of our guides and enjoy an array of activities. There’s something for everyone.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bahia-Honda-State-Park-300x143.jpgBahia Honda State Park

The park, encompassing over 500 acres and an offshore island offers some of the best snorkeling and beach combing in Florida. The perfect and quiet getaway for the entire family.  The concession service provider offers a complete gift shop, snack bar, kayak rentals and daily snorkeling tours to the fabulous Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Annes-Beach-Park-300x225.jpgAnne’s Beach Park

This beach is best enjoyed at low tide. The nicest feature here is the elevated, wooden half-mile boardwalk that meanders through a natural wetland hammock. Covered picnic areas along the way give you places to relax and enjoy the view.  Weekends are packed, since it’s the only public beach until you reach Marathon.  This beach is best for snorkeling,  swimming, and windsurfing.\.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Audubon-House-and-Tropical-Gardens-300x161.jpgAudubon House and Tropical Gardens

See John James Audubon’s works in this three-story house, which was built in the 1840s for Captain John Geiger and filled with period furniture. It now commemorates Audubon’s 1832 stop in Key West while he was traveling through Florida to study birds. After an introduction by a docent, you can do a self-guided tour of the house and gardens. An art gallery sells lithographs of the artist’s famed portraits.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Curry-Hammock-State-Park-300x124.jpgCurry Hammock State Park

On the ocean and bay sides of Overseas Highway are 260 acres of upland hammock, wetlands, and mangroves. On the bay side, there’s a trail through thick hardwoods to a rocky shoreline. The ocean side is more developed, with a sandy beach, a clean bathhouse, picnic tables, a playground, grills, and a 28-site campground, each with electric and water. Locals consider the paddling trails under canopies of arching mangroves one of the best kayaking spots in the Keys. Manatees frequent the area, and it’s a great spot for bird-watching. Herons, egrets, ibis, plovers, and sanderlings are commonly spotted. Raptors are often seen in the park, especially during migration periods.

Things to Do In Big Pine Key

Keys Boat Tours

Keys Boat Tours is a recreational minded boat tour operation offering a variety of Florida Keys outings including; sail, motor, fish, stand up paddle board (SUP), kayak, snorkel, and eco. It is an option for the whole family, where dad can get his fishing in, but everyone can equally enjoy. Best of all, they keep it comfortable, so to avoid choppy waters.  Telephone:  305-699-7166  Web:  Key Boat Tours.

Big Pine Kayak Adventures

They specialize in Lower Florida Keys back country adventures including full and half-day kayaking nature tours, shallow water skiff eco tours, short and long-term kayak rentals, sailing catamaran cruises, and shallow-water fishing.  Telephone:  305-872-7474  Web:  Big Pine Kayak Adventures

Looe Key Dive Center

The most professional dive and snorkel charter boat in the Middle and Lower Keys, Looe Key Reef Resort and Dive Center, located at Mile Marker 27.5 on Ramrod Key, has been sharing the best of Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary since 1978 – longer than anyone in the area!  Join them for a wonderful day on the reef.  Telephone:  305-731-8264  Web:  Looe Dive Center.

Lower Keys Adventure Charters

Specializing in Private Back Country Eco Tours, Fishing Charters, Snorkel Trips, and Sunset Cruises/Picnics for up to six people. The diversity of wildlife makes this area uniquely special Customize your trips to do exactly what you like.  Telephone:  305-900-8240  Web:  Lower Keys Adventure Charters

American Allegiance Charters

American Allegiance Charters offers back country and reef fishing, sunset cruises, island excursions,snorkeling and spearfishing in the lower Florida Keys.  They  have the world’s only glass bottom boat and tours feature trips to the reef for viewing without even getting wet.  Telephone:  305-394-7400  Web:  American Allegiance Charters

Best Big Pine Restaurants

Little Palm’s Dining Room  Above $61

Experience the restaurant’s candlelit ambiance indoors, or opt for a table on their breezy terrace overlooking the beach. The Dining Room at Little Palm Island is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for resort guests and off-island visitors.  They also offer an incredible Sunday Brunch each week, monthly Full Moon Dinners, and Wine Maker Events. Reservations and proper attire are required.  They welcome young adults age 16 and older. Telephone:  305-872-2524  Web:  Little Palm’s Dining Room.

Good Food Conspiracy  $11 – 30

This tiny spot on Big Pine Key has been an oasis for vegetarians for over 30 years, and they have the hippie vibe to prove it. Blink and you might miss it on the Overseas Highway, so watch for the “Juice Bar and Deli” sign. Inside the low-key natural food market, you’ll find a deli serving a variety of gluten-free soups, wraps, salads, juices, smoothies and desserts. Pull up a stool at the juice bar, or take your goodies out back to the picnic tables in the colorful herb garden. Try the Freeze–frozen organic fruit transformed into ice cream. Their Avocado Cheese Melt gets rave reviews, and meat-eaters will be happy to find tuna and range-fed turkey.  Telephone:  305-872-3945  Web:  Good Food Conspiracy.

No Name Pub  $11 – 30

No Name Pub has been awarded top scores for food and service in the ZAGAT Survey’s Casual Dining category for many years running. The ZAGAT surveyed over 700 South Florida restaurants and rated the No Name Pub as the “Best casual dining experience in the Florida Keys ”. They went on to say, if you can find it you’ll be rewarded with the “best pizza anywhere”, chili, smoked fish dip and sandwiches served on paper plates in a real old rustic bar plastered with autographed dollar bills; those in the know say this Big Pine Key haunt is “worth the drive.”  Telephone:  305-872-9115  Web:  No Name Pub.

Square Grouper  $11 – 30

The restaurant earns rave reviews with dishes that not only taste close-your-eyes-and-grin good, their presentation is lovely. For starters, try the flash-fried conch with wasabi drizzle or home-smoked fish dip. Then perhaps order the seafood pasta with key lime butter sauce. It’s okay to drool. Upstairs, chef Lynn has opened a beatnik-style tapas bar.  Telephone:  305-745-8880  Web:  Square Grouper

Lazy Days South (Marathon Key)  $11 – 30

This restaurant offers views just as spectacular as its highly regarded food. Here you’ll find a wide range of daily offerings from fried or sautéed conch and a coconut-fried fish du jour sandwich to seafood pastas and beef tips over rice. Choose a table on the outdoor deck, or inside underneath paddle fans and surrounded by local art.  Telephone:  305-289-0839  Web:  Lazy Days South

Best Big Pine Bars

Springer’s Bar & Grill

Springer’s Bar and Grill offers the best food, drinks and live music in the Florida Keys!  They offer mouth watering menu items that are sure to please your palate and fill you up. From our Duval Pot Pie, to thin crust Pizza, to the BEST Blackened Fish Sandwiches to the Keys, there is something for everyone on their menu. Join them for some fun and drinks on their outside patio while listening to local musicians sing live music. Springer’s is a great place to relax and have fun with the entire family here in the Keys.  Telephone:  305-872-3022  Web:  Springer’s Bar & Grill.

Boondocks Grille & Draft House

The “Largest Tiki Bar in the Keys” delivers great food and entertainment for every member of your family right down to your pet. Boondocks’ modern facilities, spotless kitchen, cold prep room and pet friendly patio can cater to party’s of any size. With a large selection of lunch sandwiches and dinner entrees, their restaurant features fresh catch seafood, artisan-crafted pizzas, crisp quality salads, huge burgers and more.  Boondocks’ “Southern Cooking Keys Style” is why some people spend 5 days a week dining in their open air restaurant.  Telephone:  305-872-4094  Web:  Boondocks Grille & Draft House.

Looe Key Tiki Bar

Nice open atmosphere.  A tiki bar where the locals hang out.   A great hang out to sit and watch one of the 20 TV’s.  Happy Hour drink prices are great!  Enjoy $2 tacos on Taco Tuesday.   Telephone:  305-204-4109  Web:  Looe Key Tiki Bar

Kiki’s Sand Bar & Grille

Head here by boat, car, motorcycle or kayak!  Great atmosphere and views of Newfound and Marsh harbors.  Pier with dock and great nature sightings….you must see the resident bull sharks!  Inside or outside seating, live music, and a great selection of beers and wine.  Telephone:  305-872-4500  Web:  Kiki’s Sand Bar & Grille

No Name Pub

The No Name’s one of those off-the-track places that everyone seems to know about. Despite the isolated location, folks come from all over to this divey spot to add their dollar bills to the walls, drink locally brewed beer, enjoy a little classic rock playing overhead, and feast on excellent pizzas, burgers and pub grub.  Take in the kooky ambiance from a bar stool or head out back to a shaded yard full of picnic tables.  Telephone:  305-872-9115  Web:  No Name Pub.

Top Big Pine Key Hotels

Sunset Key Cottages (Key West)


Looking for a quiet, island getaway that will afford you pampering and privacy? Look no further. Hide out in your upscale cottage or stroll the lovely brick pathways past the tropical flora and fauna to the beach, pool, restaurant, and spa. Most everything else happens off-island, but lucky you, all the craziness you want is a ferry ride away.

Casa Marina Beach & Resort Club Waldorf Astoria (Key West)


If you’ve got the money, this resort delivers. History buffs will relish in its storied past, and affluent travelers will adore its many amenities including a fabulous spa, two oceanfront pools, top-rated restaurants, and the largest (and private) beach in Key West.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, a Noble House Resort


This property is located on an island off Little Torch Key, Florida. It offers a marina, full-service spa, and gourmet dining. Every suite features ocean views and free Wi-Fi.  Little Palm Island Resort boasts a sandy beach and outdoor swimming pool. A relaxing garden and library are on-site. Yoga classes and kayak rentals are also available.

The Reach, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (Key West)


You might never know it’s there unless you stumble to the quiet end of Duval and wander down a side street that dead-ends at the sea. This is The Reach, a quiet, upscale resort where they take great pride in their service, and their onsite restaurant is renown for its prime steaks and romantic, waterfront setting.

Hyatt Place Marathon Florida Keys


Offering an outdoor pool, a free hot breakfast at A.M. Kitchen Skillet, and free Wi-Fi access, Hyatt Place Marathon Florida Keys is in Marathon, Florida. Keys Fisheries Market and Marina is just under 1 miles from the resort.  A fitness center is on site, and fishing, diving, and snorkeling can be enjoyed in the surroundings. Water sports hires, a marina, and boat docking are available at the Marathon Florida Keys resort for a charge.

Courtyard by Marriott Marathon Florida Keys


Courtyard by Marriott Marathon Florida Keys offers free WiFi and an outdoor pool with hot tub. Guests will be 5 minutes’ walk from the Turtle Hospital and 16 minutes’ drive from the Dolphin Research Center.  The on-site restaurant, The Bistro, serves breakfast in the morning, dinner and alcoholic beverages in the evening, and specialty beverages brewed with Starbucks coffee.  

Booking.com

26 Comments

  1. rina

    Oh my, this is a lovely place to go. I’ve been to Florida before, but I haven’t got the opportunity to visit Big Pine Key.

    The Bahia Honda State Park seems to be a great place to visit. Not so crowded and looks so serene. Such a perfect spot to de-stress from our busy life.

    Btw, do you recommend visiting this place with small children?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, GREAT place with small children. There is so much animal life, the dolphins are a huge hit! I think the Florida Keys would be a wonderful place to visit with kids 🙂 Thanks for reading Rina!

      Reply
  2. cristina

    Wonderful place:) Really nice place to have a holiday .
    You really make me want to escape for a week in this small paradise:)
    I can see that you have everything prepared here, flight tickets, cars. rooms…..everything….
    Is a very nice article and i think is very informative. Thanks for sharing and i will seriously think about:)
    Cristina

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks for visiting Cristina 🙂 Yes, I am partial to Florida. I think they have the best beaches in the U.S. minus Hawaii which is just not very cost effective.

      Reply
  3. DamronDuo

    Oh my goodness, this makes me want to go to the beach again! I can’t wait till summer, I haven’t been to Florida in over two years. This year our big beach trip was Jamaica which wasn’t short of AWESOME! Though with all the beaches I have ever been to the Florida Keys. I am so glad I stumbled across this article, it was really insightful. I think I found next summer’s beach vacation spot 🙂 Though I usually book with expedia, but I noticed you didn’t add them as a recommended site, would you say you get better deals through tripadvisor?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, I love booking with Trip Advisor and they will find all the good deals for you. Really the best way to go, plus you get to read all the reviews and make you everything is going to be to your standards. The Florida Keys are an experience for every beach lover!

      Reply
  4. John

    Man all those pictures and the video about all the different wild life down in the keys just took me right back there.

    In 2005 or thereabouts I went down to Scout Island with my Eagle boy scout son Ethan and the troop of course.

    I had no idea what pleasures awaited us. We did everything you have written about: navigating the mangroves, snorkeling the reefs, shooing the key deer away from our food and so much more.

    It was paradise. One day we actually caught a boat over to Big Pine Key and just walked around, had lunch and generally had a blast. The whole experience in the Florida keys is mystifying!

    Next time I go back I’m taking my wife as she hasn’t had the “Key” experience yet. We will definitely be going to Big Pine Key. I’m bookmarking this site!!!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great John! Everyone needs to experience the Florida Keys. The beaches, the atmosphere, the food, the entertainment….all well worth the trip!

      Reply
  5. Regina

    Wow! How many days do foreign tourists typically spend here? I suppose those in the U.S. can afford to take a few days break and revisit next time.

    Do people use this area as a base to travel out to surrounding places? Do you recommend people coming straight here from the nearest airport?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I’d have to say that Big Pine Key is more of a pass thru for visitors on there way down the keys to Key West. I don’t know that most people would come to specifically stay here for there entire vacation. The whole Florida Keys and it’s beaches is wonderful!

      Reply
  6. Brad

    Beautiful site! Bahia Honda State Park looks amazing.
    My wife and I prefer a little seclusion, and have never been to the keys. This looks like a great option. We’ll bookmark your site and add this to our to do list. I see the cooler season is still pretty nice too. Do the rates change seasonally down there?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, everyone needs to visit Bahia Honda State Park….so much to do and so much beauty. Thanks for visiting Big Pine Key and the fabulous Florida Keys Beaches!

      Reply
  7. Randy

    Great site I can see that you really did your home or your are just an experienced traveler either way I like how you break everything down from weather to best days to buy your tickets. Pleasant experience, great display of pictures and very well thought out and around of applause for Matty’s Mom.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Randy! It is definitely a passion of mine as I love beaches. And Florida beaches are the best in the U.S., I think. I am glad you enjoyed visiting Marathon Key and the wonderful beaches of Florida.

      Reply
  8. Marty Canaday

    Leahrae, Great website! Your layout and content are superb! The pics are so inviting and the videos are compelling.

    My wife and I just returned last night from a week’s vacation in the Keys. I wish we had known about your site before our trip! We stayed in Marathon, traveled 2 days to Key West, and the other days saw many attractions throughout the Key islands. Had a wonderful time and will definitely return!

    I am bookmarking your page because it is such a good resource. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Marty! I am glad you enjoyed reading about the Florida Keys. You will have to let me know where you stayed in Marathon Key and what you thought about it.

      Reply
  9. Maggie

    Hello! First, I have now bookmarked this website as I am all about beach travel vacations. Second, thanks for all the information about Big Pine Key. We were considering going there, but hadn’t yet spent too much time researching the possibilities. However, I came upon your site and and didn’t need to look anywhere else. You provided all the information and links I would be looking for. Excellent! Big Pine Key – here we come!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Maggie for visiting Beach Travel Destinations! I am glad you enjoyed reading.

      Reply
  10. Trina

    Thank you for this fantastic information! We have been looking for a new part of Florida to explore from our RV – one that is less-touristy and more natural. We have yet to visit the keys….not sure why we haven’t been. Maybe I expected it all to be like Key West, and bars just aren’t my thing.

    But the deer refuge! We will be planning an extended visit there soon.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You know, pretty much anywhere in the Keys will be different than Key West, especially Big Pine Key. Thank you for reading, and I know you will enjoy!

      Reply
  11. Simon

    Big Pine Key Vacations in Florida has to be on our list for future holidays, sounds wonderful.
    We live in the Sunny UK and like to escape to destinations like Mallorca or Lanzarote for our holidays but we do keep saying we’re going to have a change and fly over the big pond to visit parts of America and Pine Keys in Florida looks like a great place to start for us, reading your review.
    Thanks,
    Simon.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thanks for visiting Simon. Yes, Big Pine Key is a great way to start off a vacation in the Florida Keys. Just the drive alone is beautiful, not to mention the beaches, nightlife, activities, and sunset parties. You would have a great time!

      Reply
  12. RachelLouise56

    Wow, you’ve really done a great job hitting all the main points for this particular destination. Were I looking to visit this area, your post would be a great resource for me in planning my getaway. One of the things I love about your post is that you talked about the weather. Many sites do not get into that much depth about the year-round weather, and I think the graph you included really sets your post apart. Well done!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Rachel! I am one of those that just has to have the weather. I am a summer person, as if anybody would have never guess, and I don’t like to go anywhere when it’s cold. So I thought the visual would be good, I’m glad it is. Thank you for reading about Big Pine Key Vacations!

      Reply
  13. apcountrymusic

    Thanks for such an extensive review on the Florida Keys.

    I’ve been looking to vacation there for some time and really enjoyed learning more about it, plus all the services that are around the area.

    Will certainly be getting in touch with some of them to plan my holiday… Cheers and keep up the great reviews.

    Adam 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Adam! The Florida Keys are amazing and Big Pine Key is a little unique, and well worth staying for a couple of days! Thanks for visiting Big Pine Key Vacations!

      Reply

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