I decided to take the day off from blogging to unwind in the Florida Keys with a group of friends. The weather was perfect, and the top beach in the Keys, Bahia Honda, looked very much like a Barbadian beach. The sea was very calm and clear.

Everyone chose a place to visit. Mine was Herbie’s, at mile-marker 50.5, an authentic, unassuming little restaurant and bar, where the conch fritters are the best I have ever tasted. At US$1.50 for two huge conch fritters, nobody would expect such crisp delights, with fluffy interiors packed with juicy conch.

Key Deer Refuge
From there we visited No-Name Key, where we saw several tiny, endangered Florida Key deer wandering around looking adorable, and timidly approaching us. When we parked at the visitor information center, which shared the local supermarket parking lot, we were boldly greeted by some bantam chickens who were foraging for food. Key limes were for sale in the supermarket - these look exactly like the limes that used to grow in my yard in Barbados. We had a lot of good photo opportunities, as well as an obviously posing alligator on one nature trail that we hiked.

Alligator - Blue Hole

Alligator - Blue Hole, Big Pine Key

Robbie’s is definitely worth a mention for the tarpon feeding station alone. For $2 you get a bucket of fish to take out on the dock to feed the tarpon, and it is a wild experience. I am always surprised that no human limbs are lost, because the tarpon snap up the fish dramatically, jumping partially out of the water. There are literally hundreds of them, milling about wildly. The restaurant is a great place to eat too, especially if you choose to eat outside on the dock.

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
The Wild Bird Center is a charitable organization that provides rehabilitation for injured wild birds, some exotic birds, and a few stray cats. It also promotes environmental awareness. We try to be there when the birds are fed at 3:30 PM. One of us had a large pelican standing on his foot, and I was pushed out of the way by another hungry pelican. Tourists are allowed to don gloves and feed the birds themselves, but it is not for the faint of heart!

The Fish House
We have never had anything but a superb dinner at the Fish House. The seafood literally tastes as though it has just come out of the sea, and it is seasoned and cooked to perfection. We also enjoyed the hospitality: we were welcomed at the door as guests and our waiter discussed the food choices very seriously and professionally, giving each of us his personal recommendations. Dinners start at about US$15.

Keys Attire
There is a saying in the Florida Keys that formal wear consists of shorts, flip-flops, and whichever of your shirts has the least fish-blood on it. Yes, we were dressed appropriately today!

Chickens in the Supermarket Parking Lot! - Big Pine Key