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Indian Key State Historic Site

Indian Key State Historic Site is separated from the Overseas Highway, and it's a small Key with a pretty big past.

Way back in the 1800's, Dade County was formed. Now when you think Dade County, you think of Miami. Tall buildings, South Beach, big city. But surprisingly, Indian Key was actually the county seat for Dade County (before the Florida Keys were made into their own county). To me, it makes no sense; Indian Key was separated from the mainland by a good distance.

Well, it's commerce that swung the deal. Indian Key was a site of great commerce -- of the shipwreck variety. There are some treacherous reefs not too far away, and far too many ships didn't know about them. Salvage was very much a thriving business.

The seat of government eventually moved back to the mainland, but Indian Key was ultimately designated a State Historic Site.

Let's take a look at Indian Key State Historic Site, and see what we can find.

How Do You Get There?

The Overseas Highway won't get you there, because Indian Key isn't connected to the rest of the Florida Keys. So the only way you're going to get there is by boat of some sort.

A note: As of February, 2006 there are no charter boats going to the island -- the Indian Key State Historic Site dock sustained a lot of damage in the hurricanes of 2005. At this point, your only option is to use a canoe or kayak to get to the key.

As of February 2008, there is still no word yet on when the work on the dock will be finished.

Be on the Lookout For...

Ospreys are usually fairly common, although other birds make Indian Key their home. If you are snorkeling, there are lots of tropical fish to be seen! The Florida Keys abound with wildlife, above and beneath the waves.

Things To Do at Indian Key State Historic Site

Indian Key is a Florida State Parks that doesn't have concessions, so the activities are limited to:

  • Swimming/Snorkeling
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Hiking

Above and Beneath the Waves

Swimming in the tropical waters off Indian Key State Historic Site is a real treat. The turquoise waters are clear, calm and warm -- ahhhh! There are beaches available, kind of a rarity in the Florida Keys (enjoy them where you find them).

Snorkelers find the clear calm waters is also very inviting. Tropical fish abound in the waters, and the normal excellent visibility means there is no telling what may come into your vision. Keep in mind if a big storm has just come through, visibility may be reduced somewhat. Fortunately, from the November through May, you're not likely to see one.

There are some small coral formations close to the island for your snorkeling pleasure, but the big reef is farther off. You'll need a charter from Islamorada to get there.

If you plan to snorkel, bring all your equipment, including a diver down flag, with you. There are no rentals available at the park entrance, although some may be available at nearby marinas.

Paddle On Over

Indian Key is great for canoeing and kayaking. The waters are pretty calm most of the time, and there is a fair amount of shoreline to explore. It's not too far from the park entrance and the overseas highway, although still a bit more than a 10-minute paddle.

While there are no canoe or kayak rentals in the park itself, you can rent them at the relatively nearby Robbie's Marina in Islamorada.

Fish On!

In a word - enjoy! The Middle Keys are known for their fishing. Take a canoe or kayak out (assuming you have good balance) and wet a line. (I say good balance because one time my husband and I were fishing from a canoe and we both got a fish on at the same time. Yep, we ended up in the water.)

If you aren't feeling quite that adventurous, check out Robbie's Marina and see if they have any tours or powerboat rentals available. You can't dock at the island at the moment, but you can certainly ply the waters around it.

Yes, you'll need a saltwater Florida fishing license -- please don't fish without one. I'd hate to see you get fined, and even worse -- your catch taken away! And know the bag limits -- click for current rules and regulations for saltwater limits.

Walk Around

This isn't a large island; Indian Key is somewhere between 10 and 11 acres. Still, there are some trails around - they just aren't long. But sometimes lingering quietly to see what you can see can be rewarding.

Food and Water

There are no concessions on Indian Key State Historic Site. Bring your own, and bring plenty of fluids. It's really easy to get dehydrated in the heat of the summer sun. Don't take a chance on ruining your vacation -- drink up.

Time and Place

Indian Key State Historic Site is open year-round from 8 AM to sunset. The entrance and other fees are as follows:

  • Entrance Fees - none at this time, as you can only get there by private canoe or kayak.

Indian Key State Historic Site is on US 1, also known as the Overseas Highway. The official park address is P.O. Box 1052 Islamorada, Florida 33036. The phone number is (305) 664-2540.

Florida Pieces-Parts

Indian Key State Historic Site is at Mile Marker 78.5, close to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The closest cities are Islamorada and Marathon. The closest decent-sized airport is Key West (although there is a very, very small one in Marathon).

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