The lower Florida Keys: Wildlife and friendly folk
In Big Pine Key, I had good lunches of pita bread stuffed with sprouts, tofu, avocado and the like, and fresh vegetable shakes at the Good Food Conspiracy, at Mile 34.5 on U.S. 1; (305) 872-3945. Lunch and juice costs around $10.
On Sugarloaf Key, about 20 minutes from Big Pine, Mangrove Mama's, Mile 20, (305) 745-3030, is a rustic, timeless, family-style seafood restaurant. Entrees are $16 to $18; it gets crowded after 6 p.m.
KD's Big Pine Steak and Seafood House, Mile 30.5, (305) 872-2314, is ground zero for nighttime action in Big Pine. The restaurant serves decent renditions of the basic Keys fare: grilled or fried fish with two side dishes. My snapper dinner, with two cocktails, was around $23.
The Deli, 531 Truman Ave., Key West, (305) 294-1464; a tuna sandwich and Key lime pie cost $10.
My kayak trip into Coupon Bight ($49) was arranged by Big Pine Kayak Adventures and Reflections Charters, (305) 872-2896.
A half-day snorkel trip with Strike Zone Charters, (305) 872-9863, was $34.40 with wet-suit and fin rental.
The Hemingway Home and Museum, 907 Whitehead St., Key West, (305) 294-1136, is open daily 9 to 5; www.hemingwayhome.com. Admission: $9.
My intermediate-size Toyota, from Avis in Miami Beach was $50 a day, with a 10 percent AAA discount.
The Lower Keys Visitors Center, (800) 872-3722, and Chamber of Commerce have heaps of information at their center on Big Pine Key, Mile 31.