We took a Spring Break trip from Michigan down to the Florida Keys with our church youth group. After the 32 hour drive down to Sugarloaf Key (yes, we drove from Michigan), we set up tents at the local KOA and stopped in at Big Pine Kayak Adventures where Captain Bill hooked us up with some kayaks.
We started off from the Old Wooden Bridge Fishing Camp on Big Pine Key and paddled across to No Name Key. From there we went down the west coast of No Name then hooked around into the south bay of the key.
Along the way we saw a few derilict boats, one of them almost completly submerged. A few of the kids got out and stood on top of it which made them look like they were standing on water. Further down the coast, there was a beached sailboat that had a few schools of fish in the cabin.
After getting to the south point of No Name, we paddled up into a small bay were there we saw tons of jellyfish floating in the water. We wanted to explore the bay further, but our schedule didn't permit us the latitude, so we turned around and headed back to Big Pine Key.
On the paddle back, we ran into some very shallow water because the tide was going out. A few of the tandems came close to getting stuck, but after a few tense minutes of "shallow paddling" we got the group back into deeper water without incident.
On the trip we saw a lot of birds: Frigates, some white and brown Pelicans, and a few Herons/Egrets walking around in the woods on No Name. Some of the kids also saw a small nurse shark.
Interesting history note from our guide: No Name Key is where the CIA had a training camp in the early 1960's. It is said that this is where they trained Cuban nationals as assassians during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
All of the kids had a great time, and Captain Bill and his crew were great to work with. I wish we could have spent some more time paddling there, but we had tons of more Spring Break activities to do.
Big Pine Kayak Adventures
From Key West take a left at the first (and only) traffic light on Big Pine Key. Immediately the road forks. Bear right, and follow Wilder Rd. for 1 mile to a stop sign. Take left at stop sign (follow signs to No Name Key). Road jogs right then merges with Watson Blvd. and continues over a small canal bridge, then proceeds about a mile to the bridge connecting Big Pine to No Name Key. Big Pine Kayak Adventures is located on the right just before the bridge to No Name Key.
Captian Bill has written a very informative book about paddling in the Keys called "The Florida Keys Paddling Guide"