ISLAND ESCAPADE-THE ROAD TO KEY WEST!

Rarely do we get a chance to drive to an island…forget driving to a chain of them!! 😉But a road trip to Key West lets you do that in a way that can change your complete perspective about a road trip. Once you embark upon this journey…there is no turning back. I think a part of me is  still out there…lost in the fabled beauty of the Keys!! 🙂

It was the second time that I was travelling to Key West but the excitement was killing me. It was not about the destination…the adventure was on finding the treasures along the way!! 😉

Me and my husband along with his friends drove all the way from Tampa on a beautiful Sunday morning over the teal- indigo colored waters. The 127 mile long Overseas Highway is not only an engineering feat but the breathtaking views it offers will simply intensify the drive! 🙂

img-20140503-wa0008.jpgSoon we were passing a bridge connecting to a smaller island and then over a channel to a bigger island. Sometimes we would get miles of unobstructed view of the beautiful turquoise colored waters and sometimes there would be these small shrubs hemmed around the road, suspended just feet away from the ocean! 🙂

The ocean was not of uniform color either. There would be patches of light teal to deep aqua green and as soon as a speedboat zoomed through it, you would spot the beautiful white waves all around the place! 🙂

There are a lot of places we stopped by during our drive just to soak in the azure colored beauty of the place. The following pit stops are worth mentioning:

  1. Robbie’s at Islamorada:

Islamorada…one of the many islands of the Keys is known for its shallow clear waters and laid back lifestyle! It is also nicknamed the “Purple Island” for its magnificent sunsets! 🙂 The best place to get a slice of all that was at Robbies!! 🙂 It’s  a don’t-miss stop on a Florida Keys trip.

The moment we stepped into Robbie’s we knew we could feel the Caribbean feel all around us with the palm leaves swaying in the breeze and the shacks playing Spanish songs. It was a vibrant place with a restaurant, gift shop, boat rentals and a tarpon feeding corner.

We were really captivated by the Tarpon feeding. It sounded fun till we actually saw what really had to be done!! 😛

Tarpons are huge game fish that live in the tropical waters off the Florida Keys. They can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds.😮😮

According to the story on Robbie’s website, almost two decades ago, the owners of Robbie’s saw a tarpon floundering at the shallow waters and named it Scarface.When Robbie went to guide the fish into deeper water, he discovered that its jaw had been ripped open. So he summoned a friend who stitched his jaw. He hand fed it for 6 months in a Oxygen rich shrimp tank. After Scarface recovered, he was left off at the dock. But Scarface kept coming back and this time he came back with his friends!! 😉 Now that was an intriguing story! 🙂

As we walked to the pier, we saw hundreds of Tarpon swimming in the teal blue waters. We had taken 2 buckets of dead fish to feed them. I saw many people hand feeding the Tarpons. It looked pretty easy. Hover the bait over the waters and wait for the Tarpon to eat it!

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FYI…It is not my hand! 😛

The first time I dangled a dead fish over a tarpon…nothing happened. I could see a lot of them underneath the aqua blue waters but none of them seemed interested!Probably they were already full. Before this thought could leave my head, a Tarpon jumped out of the waters. Before I could react…I felt its wide open mouth touch my fingers. It gobbled the fish and jumped back into the water. This was followed by my embarrassing moment…wherein I went crazy shrieking like a little girl!!:oops::oops: From then on, I went for the safer option of just dropping their snacks in the water and let the Tarpon lunge for it under waters! 😛

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Pelican at the Tarpon feeding pier

Beware of the Pelicans, who try to get to the fish before the Tarpon!! 😉 They are not as innocent as they try to look! 😉

One of them slyly went behind my friend’s back and ate the fish dangling from her hand!! 😛

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Apart from this there is this beautiful restaurant at Robbie’s overlooking the Marina and the overseas highway. The outdoor seating is funky and the shacks beautiful. Since we had reached at a time when we were not hungry at all…we couldn’t give it a try. 😦 But the place looked perfect and worth a try! 🙂

Just a few minutes away from Robbie’s is this beautiful,secluded and serene beach. It is located just next to the overseas highway and trust me when I say that it is a little slice of paradise!! The beauty of the beach is not in its waves…but in its serenity! 🙂

 

Although, the beach is pretty small, I personally found it to be a charming place. There is a boardwalk that meanders through the mangroves from one parking lot to the other.

As you walk through the boardwalk, you will see lovely shaded wooden picnic tables which opens up to pristine views of classic Florida Keys water. You can either relax at the picnic shelters or walk through the boardwalks and try the beautiful alleys which leads to a smaller section of clear water.

The place was not crowded at all and it was like you had the whole place to yourself. I could see the lovely sea gulls all around the place and the view of watching them fly over the blue green waters made me feel weirdly connected to nature! 🙂 I am not a bird fan, but even I couldn’t resist clicking pictures of them. 🙂

I was willing to spend my whole day just looking at the infinite beauty of the ocean but we had plans of stopping by one more place before we made our way into Key West.

3. Bahia Honda State Park:

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Sandspur beach

It had been voted one of the best beaches in Florida Keys and so I was really interested in checking it out.

What really stuck me as we entered the state park were the beautifully placed campsites.You could stay just next to the waters and enjoy breathtaking views by the day and serenity by night. 🙂

There are two main beaches within Bahia Honda: Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach. Sandspur Beach is a mile long and has beautiful white sandy beach while Calusa Beach is a smaller beach located near the Bahia Honda Bridge and said to be the perfect place for watching the sunsets. Apart from that, the Bahia Honda derelict rail road bridge can also be seen from here or rather  the remains of the rail road which was destroyed in the 1935 hurricane. A classical aura engulfed me as I watched the beauty of the broken jaws of the saw-toothed bridge.

As we made our way towards the Sandspur beach, we could see why it was picture perfect. The white sand stretched on for miles and the sea waves gently made its way to the beach. The palm trees added a tropical feel to the place.

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The boys having fun in the water

We spent a long time on Sandspur Beach…stretching our legs on its vast sandy white beach and getting drenched in its crystal clear waters. There were a lot of people on the beach either snorkeling or kite boarding. It was fun to just laze around and spend the day splashing in the turquoise blue waters!! 🙂

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Sea Gull at the Sandspur beach

P.S…I got an amazing shot of the seagull while the guys were busy splashing each other in the waters!!

The ultimate road trip was coming to an end as we drove out of the state park. We were just a few miles away from the 0 Mile Marker!! 😉 Although we were excited to reach our final destination – Key West but there was this nagging feeling inside us, that nothing would ever match the pristine beauty of this road, the road where sky meets the sea!! 🙂

We rolled down our windows and let the sea breeze sweep through our hair as we headed southwards.🚗🚗

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