Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Trip Overview
Enjoy island-hopping on fast-moving sea kayaks through crystal-clear water. Experience white sand beaches and exploding sunsets. We'll snorkel reefs, swim with dolphins, and dine on local seafood. We'll journey from Islamorada to Key West, stopping at Lignumvitae Key, the Dolphin Research Center, and Looe Key. Enjoy a full day in Key West, and discover why Hemingway made this his home. Kayak rental and all ground transportation included.

Welcome to Florida's Tropical Islands. Off the south coast of Florida, nestled comfortably between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, are hundreds of Keys. Hemingway made these Keys his home for the same reasons we visit them: their serenity, isolation, tropical forests, white sand beaches, crystalline waters, adventure, tropical wildlife, excellent local cuisine, and colorful sunsets. In all your travels you will never see a whole island shut down for half an hour to gather on the docks for no other reason that to toast and applaud the night's arrival, as you will in Key West. No where else in America will you walk through forests where even the names of the trees seem so magical, gumbo limbo, strangler fig, poison wood, mastic.

DAY 1 - The leader will meet all participants at the rangers station at Long Key State Park. If you're flying into Miami or Key West, we encourage you to take advantage of the Keys shuttle. If you wish to drive, we'll send you directions. Plan to arrive by 3:00 p.m. The first meal of the trip is dinner. A moonlight paddle awaits the adventurous.

DAY 2 - Saturday we will travel to Curry Hammock. After some instruction we will paddle around the Key discovering dolphins, mangrove tunnels, and the occasional spotted eagle ray. Lunch will consist of an Oceanside picnic. Folks wanting to take advantage of the world class birding (hawks) at Curry Hammock will have plenty of time in the afternoon.

DAY 3 - Sunday takes us to John Pennekamp for some underwater adventure. Our primary activity will be snorkeling, kayaking, and a picnic on the beach.

DAY 4 - Monday will find us at Lignumvitae Key State Botanical site, the only virgin tropical forest remaining in the Keys. After our picnic lunch we will hone our skills by paddling to Indian Key for a picnic lunch, snorkeling, and exploration of the Indian Key Historical Site. In the evening, we will have a sunset paddle through a mangrove labyrinth.

DAY 5 - Tuesday morning will be spent snorkeling and beach-combing Bahia Honda state park. Once the sun gets high overhead we will take the boat ride out to Looe Key Marine Sanctuary for an afternoon of snorkeling on one of the Keys finest coral reefs.

DAY 6 - Wednesday, Key West, Hemingway's Haunt. Be prepared to absorb everything Key West has to offer. (Our farewell dinner will be here and is not included in the trip price.)

DAY 7 - Friday we begin the day with a morning paddle and a huge breakfast. There will be time for a morning hike or swim before departing from our tropical retreat.

Trip Difficulty
Sea kayaking barrier islands is physically challenging and participants should be in good shape to enjoy such a trip. In coastal Florida, storms of huge magnitude can appear quickly. Alternative activities are planned in case of extreme weather.

Bring quality rain gear, a water bottle, insect repellent, a day pack, snorkeling gear and personal first-aid kit. We will probably encounter a variety of weather conditions; sun protection is critical. Expect warm days and cooler nights, with possible daily intermittent rain and wind. You will need a 220-stitch long sleeve cotton shirt, a sweater, sandals, waterproof wind-breaker, shorts, swimsuit and support walking shoes. Cotton or cotton blend is more comfortable than polyester in the tropical weather.

We will be staying at the fully furnished bayfront cabins at Bahia Honda State Park. Rooms are double occ. and have full kitchens, modern bathrooms, and air-conditioning.

Additional Information
Kayaks, paddles, and personal floatation devices (PFD’S) will be provided. If you have a fondness for your own paddle or PFD, bring it! A recommended gear list, trip participant roster, and specific directions to our meeting point at the airport will be sent to all participants.

Transportation during the trip will be in rented vans. The cost of which is included in the trip price.

Trip Highlights
Bahia Honda State Park Looe Key Marine Sanctuary
Curry Hammock State Park Lignumvitae Key State Park
Indian Key State Historical Site The Dolphin Research Center
Crane Point Nature & Historical Center Pine Island Key Deer NWR
Great White Heron NWR Long Key State Park

People wanting a bit more time in the Keys are encouraged to add a few more days onto their trip and go with Greg down to the Dry Tortugas.