Cabbage Key This small island community lies in Pine Island Sound. Cabbage Key is located by mile 21 on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Cabbage key Inn maintains the “old Florida” flavor in its setting and is famous for the cheese burgers and seafood available in the restaurant. The marina itself is located at the foot of a 38 foot Indian shell mound; make sure to call ahead for reservations because this is a very popular place with great loopers in the winter and locals all year round. The flats surrounding the key are teeming with wild life and are popular with sports fishermen.
This brings an interesting story, while anchored by marker “60” opposite the entrance channel to Cabbage Key Marina, we were witnesses to what we call the “three stooges of marker 60”. These three fishermen in an open center console boat spent more than 20 minutes casting for bait fish around the marker 60 piling and coming up with just a few fish. Their first cast was right against the piling. Apparently they were oblivious or completely ignoring the pair of Ospreys in the nest right on top of marker 60. We had been watching this pair of Ospreys rebuilding their nest with two small chicks inside and fishing for their clutch. When the “three stooges of marker 60” approached, they flew away in a frenzy trying to divert them from their “castle”. Going back to the history of Cabbage Key, the “old house” is the former home of the son of mystery novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart. There are numerous paths around the island where you can watch birds, gopher tortoises, and plants in this subtropical setting while walking from one Indian shell mound to another. The Inn rents cottages, some with waterfront view and docks, and boasts the restaurant and bar, with walls covered with dollar bills. The grounds around the old inn are beautifully kept with many ornamental, flowering plants as well as native foliage. The back of the restaurant overlooks a very primitive landscape that makes you feel positively wild. We had the required “cheeseburger in paradise” as the Jimmy Buffett goes (by the way, written at the inn) at the Cabbage Key resort. All I can say is, I have had better ones! It was pricey and over cooked. I do like them well done, but this one seemed to be more than well done. At least, the drinks at the bar were honest drinks with a good portion of the necessary spirits. I had a Cabbage Key Creeper, and can attest to its power. If you decide to stop over, make sure to take the trails and see some of the flora and fauna this island has to offer. There are several of the Indian shell mounds right on the trail, and contrary to popular belief, they are NOT burial mounds, but really trash mounds where the native population disposed of the shells of the oysters, clams and scallops found in the shallows around the island. The resort also has several gopher tortoises named Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo that come out of their burrows late in the afternoon, almost at sundown to forage for food, even though they are provided with an abundance of lettuce and other greens from the kitchen on a daily basis.