Why am I writing a post about kayaking the Florida Keys now that we’re no longer there? I guess I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately with some of the problems we’ve been having. Besides our engine dying, the house batteries on the boat are pretty much shot. Those are the big batteries that power everything on the boat when you’re sitting at anchor.
On top of that my laptop which we use for navigation…and for writing this blog just died. And someone stole our kayak off the beach the same week we got to West Palm. Between all of that and looking for a new job I’ve really been slacking on this blog. So after not writing for a few weeks I’d rather make it a fun post than write about all of our problems.
Sparky’s Favorite Pass Time
When we were chartering down in the Keys our most popular trip was the snorkel and kayak combo trip. The kayaking was Sparky’s favorite part of the trip…especially after he discovered how much fun it was to just keep jumping off the paddleboard and go for a swim. He still goes crazy as soon as a kayak or paddleboard gets dropped in the water. There were 3 really cool spots we used to go to.
Tarpon Basin is a pretty well known spot which is actually just inside of Everglades National Park. You can get a map of the area from some of the kayak shops in Key Largo as well as one of the sailing clubs. Just off of the channel there are three large tunnels that join together in the middle in a small clearing.
Two of them have pretty big openings and are lined up directly with the red marks for the channel, so it’s pretty hard to miss.
Unlike many of the other tunnels in the Keys, the water in the Tarpon Basin tunnels is much deeper. There even used to be a rope swing just inside the center tunnel. You had to climb up into the mangroves and once you swung out it was a pretty big drop to the water. Unfortunately it mysteriously disappeared when the park reopened after the big government shut down.
Toilet Seat Pass
Toilet Seat Pass is a small shallow channel between Tavernier and Islamorada. There’s plenty of depth to take a smaller boat through there or even a bigger one if it’s up on plane, but to this day it’s not marked on the charts. They show nothing but a very shallow shoal there.
I’m not sure exactly when, but I think 20 or 30 years ago, one of the locals got the idea to mark the channel…with toilet seats. At the time it started out with just 4 or maybe 6 toilet seats on PVC probably marked red and green to be traditional.
Over the years it’s really grown, and today there are well over 100 toilet seats lining both sides of the channel, and people have gotten way more creative with them. There are fishing themes, dedications to veterans and MIAs, a 9-11 dedication, pirates, etc.
There’s even one that’s been made to form a large skull and cross bones. And it’s expanded beyond just toilet seats to include a pirate statue and a Garden State Parkway sign. This spot is truly one of those weird only in the Keys kind of places.
This is one that only the locals know about. We were living in the Keys for almost 9 months and didn’t even know this place existed until one of our dock neighbors told us about it. Just inshore of Toilet Seat Pass is a cut through the mangroves. As you paddle through there you’ll see a small side tunnel that leads to a clearing.
Hidden right in the middle of the mangroves is a small park made out of people’s old docks and other toys. There’s an old wooden dock lining both sides of the mangroves, a few benches to sit on, a rope swing, 2 regular swings, and even a slide. It’s a very cool area, but be careful where you step, because it’s also kind of an accident waiting to happen.
Those are our top 3 that we used to go to on a regular basis. Of course there are hundreds of other great spots for kayaking the Florida Keys, but these 3 were just close to home.