An Oasis of Islands
Big Pine is also the jumping off point for numerous snorkel or dive excursions to the 210-foot wreck of the Adolphus Busch, Sr., and Looe Key coral reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary located about six miles south of Big Pine where each year a popular underwater music festival that promotes the preservation of Keys coral reefs is staged.
The Lower Keys are an oasis of islands with intriguing names such as Summerland Key, Big Torch and Little Torch Keys, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, Big Coppitt Key, and Stock Island.
The uninhabited Saddlebunch Keys are a network of sandy lagoons and mangrove islands that make the jaunt a memorable one, especially at sunset.
The hub of the Florida Keys commercial shrimping industry, Stock Island is defined by a rustic authenticity that flavors its colorful marinas, art studios and waterfront bars and restaurants.
Stock Island’s unique heritage dates back to an era far before the Keys attained their present-day fame. Stock Island’s strong seaport core is indicated by the commercial shrimp boats tied up at its docks, and the sight of shrimpers offloading masses of sweet Key West pink shrimp. Its marinas are headquarters to world-class charter fishing captains and frequented by dedicated anglers.
The island is also a haven for independent young artists.
And since Stock Island also features two thriving new resorts, it’s being discovered by a growing group of visitors entranced by its vivid, creative, working-class seafaring atmosphere.
It’s that atmosphere — and the community and its easygoing pleasures — that you can discover during an annual “I Love Stock Island Festival.”