Little Palm Island: Luxury in the Lower Keys

Little Palm Island is luxury at every turn.
Little Palm Island is luxury at every turn.

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in the Lower Keys is so spectacular, you’ll be pinching yourself over and over to be sure you’re not dreaming. It’s like going to the Pacific Islands — but don’t need a passport and it’s a whole lot closer! (Although you will have to take a boat or a seaplane to get there as it’s several miles offshore.)

Little Palm Island bugalow
Living area of a Little Palm Island bungalow.

This private island resort owned by Noble House sits on 5.5 acres in the Atlantic, off Little Torch Key at about Mile Marker 28.5. You can drive and leave your car at their welcome center, where a motor yacht will whisk you to the island while keeping you dry. Dolphins love to play in the wake of the boat, which is a really nice welcome. Another nice welcome is your Gumpy Slumber cocktail that you’re given upon arrival. Ohh, it’s so good!

Bedroom of a Little Palm Island bungalow.
Bedroom of a Little Palm Island bungalow.

Little Palm Island is totally private, only 30 stand-alone bungalows are available and each offers the ideal blend of comfort and opulence. If you’ve never showered under the stars, you will want to try it at your bungalow. Mosquito netting drapes the beds in pure romance, and there are no phones or TVs to distract you from anything. There is also a no-cellphone rule in public areas. If you’re looking to disconnect, this resort is your answered prayer. One more thing, no one under 16 is allowed on island. Hello, babysitter? (AKA grandma.)

There is one restaurant onsite that will serve all your meals and you can even dine with your feet in the sand. Key deer sometimes come wandering through, right by your table, or right by your pool chaise lounger. These are tiny deer about the size of a dog, and they’re only found in the Lower Keys. They just add another coolness factor that you can’t find anywhere else.

Dine with your feet in the sand at Little Palm Island.
All new meaning to oceanside dining at Little Palm Island.

While you’re here, you can take out kayaks, Boston Whaler skiffs, book a dive trip to Looe Key (amazing!), play giant chess, relax in the sun, nap in the shade, take an astronomy class, swim in the lagoon-style pool, and just enjoy the peacefulness of your privileged surroundings. I almost forgot to mention the onsite spa. It’s small but good things come in small packages.

Luxury and privacy isn’t cheap, but it is worth it. It’s in a word, unforgettable. And you never know who might see here, after all, presidents and movie stars tend to frequent its secluded shores.



True Tulip in Tavernier

Big true tulip found in Tavernier.
Big true tulip found in Tavernier.

I took a drive to the Keys to get my feet-in-the-water fix and I’m so glad I did. While wading in the very shallow water at the Wild Bird Center, I found this beauty.

back of tulip

It’s the largest one I’ve ever found in the Keys. There were plenty of mini shells like the one below right next to shore, too. Love the black and white coloring!

black and white auger
Black and white auger from the Florida Keys.

I haven’t seen a black and white auger, but it sure looks like an auger to me. It had a tiny crab in it so back in the water it went.

Speaking of crabs, after wading, I drove home and when I went looking for my tulip shell in my backseat, it wasn’t there. Say what? Then I spied it, under my seat. It had crawled away! Yep, there was a stinkin’ hermit crab hiding REALLY GOOD in that big tulip.

meet crazy joe

Since I wasn’t near the beach, I ran him to my saltwater fish tank. Looks like we have a new family member. We named him Crazy Joe, from the character in the kids’ movie, Shark Tale. I put other big shells in the tank for when he needs to trade up.


Anne’s Beach Gave Up Some Beauties

Tulip found at Anne's Beach.
Tulip found at Anne’s Beach.

I got to enjoy a quick visit to Anne’s Beach today in Lower Matecumbe and I found a few beauties. Unfortunately, the one above had a crab in it. (Although in the Keys, you can keep live shells [except conch] if you have a saltwater offshore fishing license.) I put him back đŸ™‚

Banded tulip at Anne's Beach.
Banded tulip at Anne’s Beach.

This fat little banded tulip was empty though! I got to take him home.  Anne’s Beach is great at low tide, but at high tide, it’s near impossible to get in the water and search. I can always find shells over by the mangroves.

The mangroves at Anne's Beach in the Florida Keys.
The mangroves at Anne’s Beach in the Florida Keys.

Anne’s Beach does have picnic tables and bathroom facilities. You will also find two parking areas about 1/4 mile apart.

Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada

Your day is made in the shade at Amara Cay.

Amara Cay Resort in Islamorada is a new favorite. It opened this summer (2015) at the site of the former Hampton Inn (and Outback Steakhouse) at Mile Marker 80. For those of you who grew up in the Keys like I did, this was also formerly the site of Ocean 80. Now that you know where it is, let me tell you what they offer.

Interior of lobby at Amara Cay.

The lobby is cool – ultra cool. They have these swing chairs that make it fun to wait for someone. And the restaurant in the lobby, OltreMare, offers Italian seafood in a comfortable setting. They make their own pasta every day! The fettuccine is so creamy and the presentation will make you go, “Oooooh!” I also had fresh cobia (chef’s special that day) and I think it’s the best I’ve ever had. Meatball appetizer also fantastic. It’s one dinner that’s worth the money.

Interior of an oceanfront room at Amara Cay.

Their rooms have been redone in a simplistic, modern-chic design. The rooms reminded me of a bachelor pad, in a very good way. Clean walls with little artwork, couch, big TV, a wine chiller and bar area, comfy beds and a good bathroom. I lucked into an ocean view room and it was spectacular.


Here is a photo of the pool deck. There is a full bar outside here to the right so you can overlook the pool or the Atlantic.

Pool deck on the ocean at Amara Cay.

You can rent kayaks or go diving with their onsite dive center, Sea Monkeys. Great way to go explore for seashells đŸ™‚

Kayaking from Sea Monkeys Dive Center at Amara Cay.



Anne’s Beach, Islamorada

Anne's Beach Islamorada
Anne’s Beach Islamorada

If you’re looking for an OK beach in the Florida Keys, Anne’s Beach in Islamorada (or Lower Matecumbe) might be what you’re looking for. It’s at mile marker 73 on the oceanside, and there is a little parking at either entrance. If you pass the first entrance as you’re heading south, there is another entrance 1/4 mile on the same side.

annes beach

I have found a few tulips here and some augers and turbins. Nothing spectacular but it’s pretty and it’s fun. There is a boardwalk that will take you from one parking lot to the other through the mangroves. There are picnic tables and facilities. The water is shallow and goes out a good ways before it will get deep. Many shells have crabs in them here. They hang out by the mangroves.

OceanView Inn, Islamorada

OceanView Inn

Not much luck shelling from the shore in Islamorada today, but I did spend a lovely evening at the OceanView Inn (locals call it the OV). This place has a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor, although it doesn’t look like much from the road.

Thursday nights are steak night. It’s $18.95 for a New York strip steak with a big ol’ baked potato. Can’t beat it.

OV firepit

This place also has rooms available (hence, the name INN in the name). I haven’t stayed here, but reports are it’s clean. In the meantime, I hope you can go to shell soon!


Sunrise at the Postcard Inn, Florida Keys

Islamorada sunrise from the Postcard Inn.
Islamorada sunrise from the Postcard Inn.

Spent a weekend in the Keys, Islamorada to be specific. I stayed at the Postcard Inn which is right on the Atlantic ocean. The views were amazing and the sunrises were even more spectacular. This is the location of the former Holiday Isle. If you grew up in South Florida as I did, you probably spent many a day or night at Holiday Isle. I can’t drink rumrunners to this day (I tried to have all my weekend fun in one night, paid for it)!

Anyhow, I haven’t found any shells yet, except for a queen conch shell right off the shore which was occupied. But I don’t think you can take conch shells in the Keys regardless. I’ll keep looking and keep you posted.