A couple more great places to ride, and more.
Big Pine and the Lower Keys
With Big Pine as your base, the Lower Keys swing west and depart from the “pace” of Key West. No real surfing as such, but the paddling is nothing short of incredible. After decades of preservation, the fish and wildlife are unsurpassed. Think crystal clear waters, protected reefs, skinny inshore passages, all ideal for a SUP or Yak. Take some fishing tackle and snorkel gear for the trifecta. On land, expect small resorts, B&Bs, campgrounds, eclectic eateries, and if you’re lucky – spot some miniature Key Deer. Outward Bound even has a base camp here. They don’t call them the Natural Keys for nothing.
You can’t pass though Cedar key, population 700ish. Swelling to maybe 900 in the winter. This is a remote, rural, destination. Tucked away on Florida’s Gulf Coast, or Hidden Coast. Being short on traffic lights, and long on chill, there are a ton of put-ins for paddling. Add never ending tidal creeks, wooded islands, and isolated beaches, it’s like visiting the Keys 50 years ago. Some well known fantastic paddles are out to Atsena Otie Key and the Shell Mound area. Bring a rod to blend in to this fishing centric village. The small collection of funky shops, restaurants, and lodging make for a truly kicked back time. Did I mention the Spoonbills?