Lower Keys

History

Florida Keys means “Florida’s little islands”, coining from the Spanish word “cayo”, which means “little island.” The Keys had been originally inhabited by the Caloosa Indians. The Spaniards arrived in the Keys in the early 16th century, headed by Ponce de Leon. The islands became the source of money for the Spaniards through logging the mahogany trees which grew in the area. The Spaniards even made the Caloosa Indians as slaves. There was no source of freshwater in the area which had no good soil and too many insects, so the Spaniards left, but noted the Keys in the maps.

Spanish galleons passed by the Straits of Florida from Central America to Spain while bearing gold on their ships. No good maps had been recorded as many shipwrecks occured. In the 1700s, the Englishmen from Bahamas navigated the area for any signs of wreckage. They did not inhabit the area until 1821, when the US got Florida from Spain. Since then, the wreckers settled in the islands.

The Keys were deserted. When the US government came and made expansion plans, people came and inhabited the area. The first settlers came in around 1820s, and they settled in Key West, or Cayo Heuso (Bone Island)l. The area was then full of human bones of the Caloosa Indians, who used the area as their burial ground. However, the rest of the Keys was uninhabited. Two decades after the people settled in, Fort Zachary Taylor was established. The fort was used as an army base until 1940s.

Nine years after the Civil War, the US government wanted to develop homesteading program for the settlers in the Florida Keys. The settlers made their homes in whatever materials they could find, even if running water was scarce. The settlers tried eradicating mosquitoes with fires, night and day. Most of the settlers lived through farming the poor soil and through fishing. Those in Key West continued to be wreckers, but they also farmed. The people were able to produce products such as pineapples, coconuts, and oranges, which they placed in smaller boats to be carried on to larger boats, to be sold to the markets.

Henry Flagler arrived in 1905. His railroad project from the East Coast of Florida was continued to Homestead up to Key Largo, but the construction was completed after 7 years. Later, the farmer-settlers caused the top soil of the area to be depleted. In 1935, most of the towns along the way were wiped out during the Great Hurricane, which killed more than 800 people.

In 1942, freshwater was introduced to the islands through the pipeline which started from the Everglades. The government also took its part in promoting the Florida Keys as a tourist destination.

Getting There

One way to get to the Lower Keys either by bus or car is through the U.S. Highway 1, otherwise known as the “Overseas Highway.” Most islands in the Keys can be accessed using this route.

Sugarloaf Key also has a small private airport. Tourists can also land on Key West International Airport. Amtrak trains also takes tourists to Key West in the Lower Keys.

Weather

Average maximum temperature is 89.2°F, usually on August, and average minimum temperature is 65°F, usually on January. Annual precipitation is 36.9 inches.

What to Wear

During summer months, it is advisable to wear light-colored and cool clothing, especially those made from cotton. Women can wear skirts and cool sundresses. Flip flops are definitely something to bring. If you plan to stay outdoors for longer hours, bring along a hat, a pair of shades for eye protection, and apply a generous amount of sunblock with a high SPF, applying every 2 to 3 hours.

When on business meetings, wear appropriate clothing made of light-colored and cool materials. For night outs, it is advisable to wear appropriate outfits.

During the rainy and cold seasons, be sure to have a jacket or sweatshirt.

Fishing

As azure seas surround the Lower Keys, fishing opportunities are really abundant. Listed are fishes which can be caught in the area.

sailfish
blackfin tuna
dolphin
wahoo
blue marlin
yellowfin tuna
mutton snapper
mangrove snapper
yellowtail snapper
snowy grouper
barracuda
cobia
amberjack
king mackerel
cero mackerel
red grouper
black grouper
gag grouper

*BEST MONTHS TO FISH

sailfish – late October to early November, late April and May
blackfin tuna – fall, winter, and early spring
dolphin – spring and summer
wahoo – fall, winter, and spring
blue marlin – October and November, May and June
yellowfin tuna – September to December, February to March
mutton snapper – winter to spring
mangrove snapper – all year round
yellowtail snapper – winter and spring
snowy grouper – all year round
barracuda – all year round
cobia – best caught in winter, but can be caught most of the year
amberjack – best in spring, but caught all year
king mackerel – fall, winter, and early spring
cero mackerel – fall and winter
red grouper – winter to spring
black grouper – winter to spring
gag grouper – winter to spring

WHAT TO BRING AND WEAR WHEN FISHING
The following are the most appropriate outfit when going for a fish:

• hat
• sunglasses
• light long sleeves, cool light-colored cotton outfits
• jacket or other rain gear
• boat shoes
• sun screen with high SPF

The following should also be in your A-list:

• camera
• cooler
• water or your preferred beverages
• food
• medicine kit
• fishing apparatus

Attractions and Activities

If you enjoy being under the sun on a beach, touring historical places, playing golf, or simply watching a romantic beach sunset, then come and experience sunshine paradise in the Lower Keys!

*Harry S. Truman Little White House
111 Front St Key
West, FL 33040
(305) 294-9911
http://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com/key-west/history-little-white-house-museum.htm
littlewhitehouse@historictours.com

*Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
907 Whitehead St
Key West, FL 33040
Phone: (305) 294-1575
Fax: (305) 294-1575
www.hemingwayhome.com/
info@hemingwayhome.com

*Key West Golf Club
6450 East College Road
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-5232
www.keywestgolf.com/
info@keywestgolf.com

*Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-2988
http://www.keywestbutterfly.com/
info@keywestbutterfly.com

*All About You Day Spa
1714 N Roosevelt Boulevard Key West, FL 33040
Phone: (305) 292-0818
Fax: (305) 292-9504
http://www.allaboutyoukw.com
allaboutyoukw@bellsouth.net

*Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Southard St on Truman Annex
Key West, FL 33041
(305) 292-6713
http://www.floridastateparks.org/forttaylor
harry@forttaylor.org

*Prana Spa
625 Whitehead St.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 295-0100

Home Basic


pranaspa@bellsouth.net

*Bahia Honda State Park and Beach
36850 Overseas Hwy. Bahia Honda Key
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872 3210
http://www.bahiahondapark.com/

*Big Pine Kayak Adventures
1791 Bogie Drive
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872-7474
http://www.keyskayaktours.com
bigpinekayak@aol.com

*Reelax Charters
Sugarloaf Marina at Mile Marker 17
Sugarloaf Key, FL
(305) 304-1392
http://www.keyskayaking.com/

Where to Stay

*Santa Maria Suites
1401 Simonton Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(866) 726-8259
http://www.santamariasuites.com/?WT.mc_id=tripbiz

*Orchid Key Inn
1004 Duval Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(800) 845-8384
http://www.orchidkey.com/

*Marquesa Hotel
600 Fleming St,
Key West, FL 33040
(800) 869-4631

Marquesa Key West

*Southernmost on the Beach
508 South Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(888) 449-0633
http://www.southernmostresorts.com/southernmost-on-the-beach/

*Deer Run Bed & Breakfast
Long Beach Drive, Lower Keys,
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872-2015
http://www.deerrunfloridabb.com/

*Barnacle Bed and Breakfast
1557 Long Beach Road,
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872-3298
www.thebarnacle.net

*Sugarloaf Lodge
17001 Overseas Hwy,
Sugarloaf Key, FL 33042
(305) 745-1788
www.sugarloaflodge.net/

*Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
28500 Overseas Highway,
Little Torch Key, FL 33042
(305) 515-4004
www.littlepalmisland.com/

*Parmer’s Resort
565 Barry Avenue,
Little Torch Key, FL 33042
(305) 872-2157
http://www.parmersresort.com/

*Venture Out Resort
701 Spanish Main,
Cudjoe Key, FL 33042
(888) 551-5533 or local (305) 745-2600
http://www.701spanishmain.com/

Where to Eat

Come and experience the Lower Keys’ gastronomic offers while enjoying the warm sunshine and paradise at its best.

*Blue Heaven
729 Thomas Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(305)296-8666
www.blueheavenkw.com

*Garbo’s Grill
603 Greene Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 304-3004
www.garbosgrillkeywest.com

*New York Pasta Garden
1075 Duval St., “IN DUVAL SQUARE”‘,
Key West, FL 33040
(Formerly New York Pizza Cafe)
(305) 292-1991
www.newyorkpastagarden.com

*The Flaming Buoy Filet Co.
1100 Packer Street,
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 295-7970
www.theflamingbuoy.com

*China Garden
209 Key Deer Blvd,
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872-8861

*Good Food Conspiracy
940, OS,
Big Pine Key, FL
(305) 872-3945

*Mangrove Mama’s
19991 Overseas Hwy (MM20),
Sugarloaf Key, FL 33042-3101
(305) 745-3030
www.mangrovemamasrestaurant.com/index.html

*The Dining Room at Little Palm Island
28500 Overseas Highway, Mile Marker 28 1/2,
Little Torch Key, FL 33042
(305)-872-2551
www.littlepalmisland.com

*Parrotdise Waterfront Bar & Grille
183 Barry Ave,
Little Torch Key, FL 33042
(305) 872-9989
www.parrotdisewaterfront.com/

*Square Grouper
MM 22.5, OS, Cudjoe Key,
Cudjoe Key, FL 33042
(305) 745-8880
www.squaregrouperbarandgrill.com

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