Exploring Elliot Key

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Elliot Key is located just south of Boca Chita or around 20 km from our anchorage in Miami. It contains some of the only "true" hiking trails in the Florida Keys. *Wear tons of bug spray* and bring your camera to capture its beautiful scenery. This was our first visit to Elliot Key, as it had been closed for renovations over the past few years.

The island has fresh running cold water, showers, bathrooms, BBQ areas, campsites, and a nicely maintained dock for its visitors to enjoy. Their docks, however, only have a 3.5' depth at its deepest spot so most sailboats (just like us) had to anchor a little bit outside its channel and dinghy in.

During our short visit ashore we walked along one of their northern trails leading east towards the Atlantic Ocean. Our trail was surrounded with the natural Florida Keys wildlife including mangroves, lignumvitae trees, cacti, birds, iguanas, hermit crabs, purple wild flowers, and even one long black snake that made me jump quite a bit and pick up Cooper (even though I believe he was more afraid of us than us of him.) Our path soon led to a boardwalk along the ocean keeping us just well above the surfs line while being able to enjoy the views.

We found this island to be a unique, quaint little hideaway that was able to maintain its "wilderness" appeal in its hiking trails while still being so close to Miami. For visiting on a Sunday afternoon, it was not very crowded (unlike Boca Chita, which can become un-navigable on weekends due to little boats triple rafted together at the docks).

I loved visiting this park - it was a new adventure for us, almost feeling like our first year cruising in Miami where everything was new and unique. It's now being added to one of the many destinations that we like to visit during our winter charters in Miami. This island has been the most similar to the state parks that I am accustomed to at home in West Virginia. Yeah there are no mountains or fresh water creeks leading into waterfalls, but the trails are made of dirt instead of paved paths as most in Miami are designed with.... and they allowed pets - on a leash. (So I didn't have to feel guilty about sneaking him for a walk away from the boat.)

Cooper loves getting ashore whenever he can. For the first ten minutes or so, its almost guaranteed that you will be jogging alongside as he quickly checks everything out. He's not a fan of being left by himself for too long or else his complaints and tears start coming at you a mile a minute. It's fun to share in his excitement as he explores everything, much of which is for the first time - from hunting bugs, digging tunnels in sand, to climbing palm trees, each island visit he learns something new!

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