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    One might say that there’s not much going on between the Seven Mile Bridge and Key West, but that’s just the way the Big Pine Key residents like it. This 30-mile expanse is arguably the most spectacular stretch in the lower Florida Keys. Between Key West and Marathon there are no shopping malls, no fast food restaurants, few buildings, few accommodations; but here you will find plenty of water. To the north is the Gulf of Mexico, and to the south, the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the sea and the sky.

    There is a jewel of a beach in Bahia Honda State Park. It has been mentioned at times in important travel magazines as being one of the most beautiful in the world. Here you will find fantastic sandy beaches, as well as marina, and RV and camping facilities. This natural preserve also boasts many indigenous plants and flowers that grow almost nowhere else in the world. The old Bahia Honda Bridge is there for you to photograph; just look to the south toward the Atlantic as you pass by the State Park.

    As you approach Big Pine Key, you will notice that the speed limit drops to 35 mph. This is not to protect the resident humans, but the endangered Key Deer. A slow drive into the neighborhoods on the north side of the island will make it almost a sure bet that you will see some of these tiny creatures. Don’t feed the deer, however; it’s against the law!

    Big Pine Key is also home to several shops that host dive and snorkel trips, daytime and nighttime, to Looe Key Marine Sanctuary, part of the reef system that runs along the length of the Florida Keys.

    As you approach Cudjoe Key, look to the skies in the north and you should spot a huge radar blimp affectionately known as Fat Albert. There are actually two of them, and they take turns guarding the Keys from 1,400 feet up. Fat Albert can actually be seen from miles away in either direction.

    At Sugarloaf Key, you will find a small airport where you can charter a plane ride or arrange some skydiving. You can also visit one of the strangest landmarks you will find in the lower Florida Keys, the Bat Tower.

    Boca Chica is the location of the Naval Air Station Key West (NAS Key West). This is the last major landmark you will see before you enter Key West. Commissioned in 1917, the Naval Air Station was built here when Navy research found it to have the most days of perfect flying weather of anywhere in the country.

    We invite you to use the resources here at to plan your next Big Pine Key and Lower Keys vacation. starfish

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