Saturday, January 26, 2008

Where's the Beach?

As a hotel owner in the Keys, it freaks me out when a visitor tells me they can't wait to get here so they can take a long walk down the beach. In their mind I'm sure they hear screeching sea-gulls and see crashing waves with endless miles of white sandy beach.

Sorry, we don't have that here. Many people just don't do the research before going on vacation and are disappointed when they arrive. And I learned a long time ago, as the owner of the resort... it is going to be my fault for not revealing this fact. So we do a lot of explaining on telephone calls about the beaches (or lack of) in the Florida Keys.

Our beaches are quite beautiful but different. Most Keys resorts have a nice beach area for sunning and swimming but they are not long enough for running or taking a walk. We bring the sand in by the truckload because we really don't have much naturally occurring sand due to the lack of wave action. 

Here's a couple of definitions you need to understand: A "Sunning Beach" means the resort has a nice sandy beach area with lounge chairs but you can't swim from the beach due to a sea wall. A "Swimming Beach" means they have a nice sandy area but you can get up from your lounge and walk directly into the water without negotiating a sea wall.

There are a few nice beaches in the Keys. Near Islamorada there is Anne's Beach located at mile marker 73 on the ocean side. The beach has a nice shallow sandy swimming area, covered picnic tables, boardwalk and bathroom facilities. It's close to the road but pretty nice.

The nicest beach in the Keys is Bahia Honda located at mile marker 37. Some of the most prestigious travel magazines rank Bahia Honda as one of the best beaches in Florida and others rank it as one of the best and beachs in the world.


Lori said...

Thank you for all that info--especially about the beaches! I was wondering if you have any info about getting married in Islamorada. We are planning to get married there this July. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated! THANKS!

Jim said...

Hi Lori: We have lots of info on weddings. Are you sure you want July... it's hot and busy at that time of year?

Most resorts will have a minimum stay requirement plus a fee. Restaurants also have nice beaches and will require a fee plus food charges.

Click the email link when you reply and I will provide some info to get you started. I need to know how many people, and the features you are looking for, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim! We will be staying at Pines and Palms in mid May for our honeymoon and were interested in knowing where your favorite snorkeling sites are in Islamorada. Thank you for your time!
Sarah and Drew

Jim said...

Hi Sarah, hi Drew: Congratulations on your wedding! I'm glad you will be staying with us for your honeymoon.

There are some really nice snorkel sites (including an old wreck) straight out from Pines and Palms. If you plan on bringing or renting a boat, I can show you where to go on an easy to follow map. Many of these spots are marine sanctuaries.

At one of my favorite spots you will be swarmed by thousands of colorful Sergeant Major, Yellowtail Snapper, and Bermuda Chub fishes. Other spots will have you seeing beautiful coral formations with other great tropical fish and occasional sea-turtles.

Let me know if you plan on using a boat (the best option). If not, I will recommend somebody to take you out.

Anonymous said...

HI Jim, a last minute family trip to the keys. Do you think a 7 yr old could snorkel off your shore? Do you charge for use of the bikes and kayacs? How far away is Bahia Honda from your place? I'm trying to talk my husband into this trip. It was 7 degrees here last night! AND Is Islamorada all motels?
Thanks, Mary in Michigan

Anonymous said...

Jim, Thanks for the info. I am trying to get my dad to join me for a few days of bone fishing in May. Is your beach a swim out beach? What does a boat rental cost to get to the snorkeling from your place and is there a flats fishing area close or can you reccomend a guide. I would prefer to have a guide for a few half days and then rent a boat and try it on our own for a few days. What do you think??

Jim said...

Hi there anonymous... our beach at Pines & Palms has both a swimming and sunning beach. The "swimming" beach is quite small but it is where we launch kayaks and fishermen wade into the water. Boat rentals average $200 per day plus or minus and I can point out the places a dive boat would take you (in addition to some other great locations). As far as flats fishing, it's everywhere! I have a variety of guide recommendations depending on what you want to catch and how you want to catch it. See my blog "how to select a fishing guide."
You will find our guides make the fishing seem easy. What you don't notice is they are taking in to consideration tide strength, direction, and phase, wind direction and strength, time of day, seasonality, water temperature, and many other factors. It's not quite the same when you do it yourself but certainly a lot of fun. I can help you with the fishing when you get here. May is an excellent time for Bonefish.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the info. Sounds like it will be a vlast. Do you have guides that will do a m1/2 or 3/4 day trip. I'm not sure we want to bw out for the entire day. Can you walk to some flats to fish withot a guide from your place?

Jim said...

Hi again...
It is difficult during the busy season to find guides that will do part day trips. Most of the good guides require advance bookings because they have built a solid reputation and they don't need to take part-day trips when they can fill their schedule with full day trips. If you are coming all the way down here to the Keys, and you like fishing, I would spend the entire day on the water! You will learn a lot and the time will go by very fast.
There are some nice flats you can wade just off Pines & Palms. If you go at the right tide there is a high chance of seeing bonefish.
Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...


Sounds good. Can you reccomend a guide for us. We would like to bonefish for two days, not in succession. We will also bring our own gear for a day or two on our own. Also, are there restaurants close? What about a grocery so we can cook our own in our room?

Jim said...

Hello again: When you check-in, we have some nice handouts for you including our famous restaurant review listing 20 restaurants within a few miles of the resort. We'll also provide our list of guides so you can select the best fit for your bonefishing adventures. There is a grocery store less than 2 miles away (The Trading Post) and a Winn Dixie about 15 minutes away. As far as fishing, it is always a good idea to book in advance. There are pluses and minuses to doing this. The pluses are you get the best guides if you book in advance, the minus would be if the weather is marginal (but fishable) the guide will still expect you to go. If you want to book in advance, please call the resort and we will fax or email a list of preferred choices (800-624-0964).

Gena said...

Hi Jim,
My husband and I want to come to Islamorada for our 3rd anniversary in May and you are booked. My husband loves to fish and we would love a small, outdoorsy, inexpensive place to stay. Any ideas?

Jim said...

Hi Gena: We have plenty of availability in May. Please give us a call at 800-624-0964. We generally have a 3 night minimum on weekends and 4 nights on Memorial weekend but there are ways around it.

If that doesn't work, leave a message with your telephone number and I will call you back.


Tricia said...

Hi I am coming to Islamorada in 2 short weeks. The lady I booked our condo through made it sound like we could lay out and swim everyday just like your typical vacation.....this article makes it sound like she told us a few lies. We don't need a running beach, but i would like to lay in the sand and walk out into clear nice water to swim. Is that possible anywhere without driving 45 minutes?