When I first moved down to the Florida Keys almost 20 years ago I lived on Big Pine Key. It is located about thirty miles north of Key West and it is what the Florida Keys used to be like before commercialization started to take hold. Many roads are still unpaved on Big Pine Key, and other than a small Winn Dixie shopping center, it is still pretty much a sleepy little community. But this area also has some natural gems to be explored and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
This weekend I headed up to Big Pine Key to revisit the Blue Hole which is a part of the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge. Centrally located on Big Pine Key, the Blue Hole is an old abandoned limestone quarry, filled with freshwater from rainfall.
As you can imagine, a freshwater hole surrounded by nothing but saltwater is going to be home to many creatures and unique plant life. Wildlife that you might encounter here include fish, turtles, birds and alligators. The Blue Hole has an observation platform making it an awesome look-out spot for visitors. There are also walking trails around the quarry.
While I was not observant enough to see turtles or alligators on my visit, I did see quite a few Key Deer on my way to the area. Which brings me to another important point about visiting Big Pine Key. Please be careful when driving in this area. The Key Deer call this place home, and they can and will dart out in front of cars from time to time. So stay vigilant and follow the speed limits! Also, do not feed the wildlife. Yes, these deer are super cute and friendly, but feeding them is not only good for them but it is against the law.
So, if you are tired of the hustle and bustle of Key West and you want to get back to nature on your Florida Keys vacation, drive the 30 minutes up to Big Pine Key and visit these areas while we still have them to enjoy!
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