Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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This article was first featured in the Feb/Mar 2014 issue of Sea Kayaker magazine.

Enjoy this updated & extended online mix!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

Serene tropical paddling on Florida Bay.
“Free ranging on Florida Bay” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Flex Maslan decoratedreality.com digital029art.com surreal digital art fantasy dream Extreme Birdwatching series decoratedreality kayakfari photography Florida Bay kayak Everglades canoe panoramic sky island osprey sea grass bank

Sample from DecoratedReality.com – Extreme Birdwatching series.
SURREAL DIGITAL ART from the Everglades by Flex Maslan.

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On a clear sunny day in mid February  I was cruising  towards a distant wooden camping platform. It’s where I would spend the night, comfortably perched ten feet above a vast, shallow body of water. I might have well been dreaming, except for that occasional unexpected splash of warm water on my face. For this winter idyll with highs in the low 80’s, I was paddling on Florida Bay, a still (relatively) unspoiled tropical wilderness paradise just off the southern tip of Florida.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

Panorama from central Florida Bay.
“Islands in the Sky” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Florida Bay is a large body of water bordered by Everglades National Park to the north, and Florida’s Keys along with the Gulf Stream ocean current to the south. Covering over 800 square miles, it forms a roughly triangular shape about 40 miles wide from east to west. From north to south, it tapes out from six miles in the east to 25 miles on it’s western edge with the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all of the ‘Bay, as it is called locally, is a part of Everglades National Park, and has been protected since the Park’s inception in 1947. Within it’s boundaries, there are about 100 small islands or keys. Very few of these have any actual dry land; most are just clumps of mangroves and mud barely standing above sea level. There is  an irresistible allure  to the  keys hovering on the horizon as if mirages, but they are real places!

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“Orbital Maneuvers”

Kayakfari ART photography – ART of Darkness series.

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kayakfari orbit kayak space strauss 2001 odyssey florida rolling blue danube flex maslan Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Florida Bay is at the extreme tip of  Florida and the KOE watershed. Nestled between the Everglades mainland and the Florida Keys/deep blue Gulf Stream ocean current.
 2014: A Strauss Odyssey
Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Florida Bay can be a challenging and yet a very rewarding place to paddle. There’s a lot of territory to cover and  it really invites you savor your time spent on the water.  Mentally “slow it down” and enjoy it, though you may still paddle as fast as you like! The Bay, unlike the Ten Thousand Islands area to the northwest, is all wide open-water paddling and much larger in area. You can cruise under a big sky with lots of water around you and distant islands on the horizon. The seascape within this national park is unscarred, and the feeling is quiet and very remote. It is as if stepping back in time, perhaps to the days before the Keys were connected with all those bridges. It is far enough to be just outside the world of people!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com Florida Bay satellite route paddle Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp canoe

Extreme telephoto view of distant Key over the flats banks of Florida Bay.
“Mirage on the Bay” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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As an Everglades paddling destination, Florida Bay has been overshadowed by the Ten Thousand Islands. Many paddlers from around the globe have heard about the Everglades, and many have paddled out from Everglades City into the Ten Thousand Islands, or even paddled the 99 mile Wilderness Waterway from Chokoloskee to Flamingo. However, not as many go on to explore the Bay. This is in part because of the Bay’s remoteness, which presents logistical and physical challenges, and partly because not many outside the state have heard about it.

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Florida Bay & Keys Aerial VR Panoramas

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Florida Bay is easily accessible from the Florida Keys by heading north, but unfortunately for paddlers there’s currently only one official backcountry campsite within comfortable reach of the Keys, and it is at the very eastern edge of the Bay. The only other, but much better access point is at Flamingo, which is at the end of the main park road in Everglades National Park. Flamingo was once a remote fishing village before it was connected to Miami via the Ingraham Highway. This highway later formed the basis for today’s park road and is the only road into Flamingo. It is also the southern terminus of the aforementioned Wilderness Waterway, which is a marked, navigable route through the coastal mangrove forests that runs from Chokoloskee down to Flamingo. Along this route are strategically (and sometimes historically) placed camping platforms called chickees and a few oddball land campsites. The wooden structures are covered with sloped roofs and make for interesting and fun camping. These chickees also help to minimize environmental impacts.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

Dawns like these can be found on Florida Bay!
“Champagne Dawn” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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In 2010, two new chickee platforms on Florida Bay were opened for visitor use. They are similar to, but much higher than those you’ll find in the interior Everglades. Starting with these two Florida Bay chickees, the Park Service has given us a new way to experience the Bay without disturbing vegetation or bird colonies. Three additional proposed chickees are currently in the planning stages. When built, they will be part of a small network of camping platforms, beaches and islands throughout the Bay!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp Flex Maslan mud flats low tide satellite

Satellite view of Florida Bay with access points and possible campsites spread out over it’s 800+ square miles!

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This mix of land sites and chickee platforms already provides the area with at least ten possible camps if you include nearby spots outside of the Park’s jurisdiction. They are accessible to all boaters, including power boaters and fishermen. However most recreational power boats stay in the marked main channels unless they are fishing in the flats, in which case they will be trolling or poling along slowly. Jet skis are not permitted to operate inside Everglades National Park waters, but you may see them just outside of the Park’s boundaries. In the hot summer months you may well be the only camper out on the entire Bay!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

Huge storm system moving over eastern Florida Bay vs orange light pollution glow from Miami.
“Detonation at Dawn” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

See the Rabbit in the Lazy Moon rising on a calm Florida Bay night.

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part I
“A Trip to the Moon”

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kayakfari photography art Florida Bay aerial kayak Everglades Flex Maslan landscape panoramic print sea Island Night

“Island Night” – – ART of the Bay series – Florida Bay Landscapes.
CLICK image and check  out the full gallery!

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As with any trip into a wilderness area, you should be well prepared with your full complement of paddling safety and camping gear. It’s quite likely you will not have mobile phone coverage once outside of Flamingo, so you must be fully self-sufficient. You should file a float plan and leave it with a friend or a loved one. Let them know about your plans and what they should do if you don’t check in by the time noted on the plan. You should also have a weather radio, a compass and a waterproof chart #33E. Binoculars can be really convenient to have. For emergency signaling, carry a VHF radio, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and/or satellite messenger. A GPS unit is nice to have but not really needed for navigation; it’s easy to get around the Bay with a chart as long as you pay attention to the wind and tides. There are NO FRESHWATER SOURCES OUTSIDE OF FLAMINGO, so you must bring with you all the water you’ll need! As with all outback campsites, there is a strict pack in/pack out, leave no trace policy.

Ethos = Keep the Bay clean!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

A rare patch of thick fog in the summertime over First National Bank on Florida Bay.
“The Wall” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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When you’re planning your trip, study the weather forecast beforehand. During the hot and humid summer months, seas are often calm and flat; however, there are afternoon thunderstorms nearly every day with a strong possibility of numerous lightning strikes. Fall and spring are often windy, with weekly cold fronts bringing winds of 15 to 25 knots along with four to six foot seas usually from the northeast but sometimes northwest. September especially can be a real wildcard with often unsettled weather as the transition to fall starts to take place, and even the nights can get stormy! The nicest weather is Christmas through February, with very mild and comfortable air temperatures in the 70s during the day and low 60s at night. Because the elevated chickee platforms are high up off the water, you could experience a wind-chill effect, so bring a tarp or two. In the summer the chickees are the only tolerable camping options, as there are fewer or no bugs with the nearly constant breezes.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art aerial

Aerial bird’s eye view flying over First National Bank on a sunny day.
“First National Bank Aerial” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Florida Bay is essentially a shallow tidal lagoon situated at the very southern fringes of the K-O-E system, that is the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades watershed / ecosystem. Depth in the Bay ranges from mere inches to about five or six feet at most, with most places averaging about three feet. These shallow waters are very sensitive to changes in water quality and quantity draining into it from the north. In the past there have been huge algal blooms and grass die offs. Large sections of the Bay, called banks, host fields of turtle grasses that are near the base of the food chain and a good indicator of the Bay’s overall health. Many bird and marine species, including gamefish, spend at least parts of their lives on these banks. Florida Bay is a nursery to many species and a rich and bountiful fishing area. With the current Everglades Restoration efforts now underway and a new General Management Plan, hopefully the overall health of the ‘Bay will improve.

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Healthy turtle grass beds reflecting on the underside of the surface on Florida Bay.

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A blue crab in a foot of water in southern Florida Bay.

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Because the Bay is so shallow, winds and tides will be the determining factors for most trips. For instance, at low tide, your route from key to key will likely grow longer as you’ll have to paddle around the exposed flats. This is why you’ll see trips with a range. It could be 12 miles or exceed 15 to get to the same spot depending on the tidal situation. Wind can also play a determining role, as at low tide it can completely blow water out of a normally passable route. Another interesting aspect of tides in Florida Bay is that the tides inverse about halfway across. That is, the southern half of the Bay goes by the Key’s tide models, and the north follows Flamingo tides. This means that you can get stranded if you rely on Flamingo tides but venture out far enough away from Flamingo. Finally, the strongest surge of the incoming tide seems to occur during the last hour before the high slack. A network of National Data Buoy Centers that report near real-time data from stations in Florida Bay can be useful when planning your trip. The only sure bet to avoid getting stranded is to stay in the main boat channels, but I’d rather risk an occasional stranding and travel well off the beaten path.

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My kayak slowly drifting away from me on central Florida Bay.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

This is why you don’t want to go walking on the mud flats of Florida Bay!

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Grounded on a flats bank under the stars in Florida Bay.

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Paddling over these Banks can be impossible on low tide, so it’s important to time your passage across them with tide charts. Getting stranded or high centered on low tide is something you only want to do intentionally! If you do get stranded, it’s tempting to try and walk. Unfortunately, most of the exposed sea bed is composed of very soft mud that will take your shoes off in just a few steps. It’s a lot like walking through fresh snow – you never know what the next step will be like. If you have  the time, and you well may, you can prepare to make yourself comfortable with snacks and beverages as you sit in the middle nowhere under the stars in a delicious silence! In a few spots the seabed can become exposed enough that you can bring a tarp to lay down on and hang out. Then, in a few hours, the water will come back in again and you’ll be on your way!

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Flamingo camping Aerial kayakfari Florida Bay Everglades kayak Everglades Flex Maslan canoe panoramic campground

The main campground field in Flamingo, Everglades National Park, aerial 360 view.
CLICK for VR 360 aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

Florida Bay & Keys Aerial VR Panoramas

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Crow’s eye view launching into Florida Bay at the Flamingo boat ramps.
CLICK for VR superwide aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

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One great way to start exploring Florida Bay is with a day trip out of Flamingo. A loop of about eight miles can take you around Murray Key, the Oyster Keys and Bradley Key, which was named in honor of Audubon Game Warden Guy Bradley. In July of 1905, he was shot and killed in the line of duty by bird-feather poachers out by the Oyster Keys. His murder was ultimately instrumental in putting an end to the feather trade that supplied hat makers, and also in the establishment of Everglades National Park itself. Bradley Key is open for day use only but you can camp nearby in Flamingo’s main campground on a large open field with available running water and modern toilet facilities and showers. Regardless of where you go, you’ll see much more wildlife out int he Bay than in other sections of the Park. A vast array of bird species inhabit the area and often feed en masses on the low tide mud flats. I’ve seen many herons, egrets, osprey, cormorants and even a few bald eagles. On the water you’ll also see dolphins, green sea turtles, numerous small sharks and possibly even a manatee or a shy American crocodile.

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Flex Maslan Oyster Keys aerial kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Buzzard’s eye view aerial of the Oyster Keys in Florida Bay.
CLICK for VR superwide aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art dolphin hunting behaviour

Cooperative dolphin hunting behaviour in Florida Bay.

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Bradley Key Aerial kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan canoe panoramic 360 panorama Guy sky Flamingo low tide sea turtle grass Audubon warden

Aerial birds-eye view of point on Bradley Key in Florida Bay, Everglades National Park (just a couple of miles west of Flamingo).
CLICK for VR 360 aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

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For overnight trips originating from Flamingo, there are many options. First you will need to obtain a Wilderness Camping Permit at the Flamingo Ranger station, and the system is exactly the same as for any of the other Park campsites. Permits are issued first come, first served, and reservations are not taken. During the winter paddling season they charge a small fee but in the off-season, from about mid-April to mid-November, there is no charge, although you must still fill out a permit.

Either of the existing two chickee platforms at Johnson Key or Shark Point makes for a great night under the stars. Johnson Key is about is about six miles as the crow flies from Flamingo due south, and you can usually see it from the second story of the Flamingo Ranger Station. The Shark Pt chickee is about eight miles out of Flamingo, straight across Snake Bight to the east. Again, study tides because Snake Bight can be impassable on low tide even for a kayak! Another way to access the Shark Point chickee is to launch into West Lake just off the main Park road and then follow the interior Alligator Creek Canoe Trail out past the Alligator Creek ground campsite into Garfield Bight. You will then see the chickee platform about two and a half miles due south.  Watching a Florida Bay sunset and then spending a night out on one of these chickees is simply a delicious experience!! It’s particularly sweet on a nice full moon night, with a light easterly breeze, swinging in your hammock. You will dream well!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art

Whimsically named Dildo Key on Dildo Key Bank (flats) in Florida Bay .
“Dildo Key” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Surfing in towards the Johnson Key chickee platform in Florida Bay.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art johnson chickee platform

Camping on the Johnson Key chickee before accessibility improvements.

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Full moon rising over Johnson Key and the chickee camping platform.

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When these two were first put up in 2010, they were very difficult to access from a kayak or canoe and almost required gymnastic skills. The Park received a lot of criticism due to the extreme height and difficulty of climbing up on top! Thankfully by the start of 2012, the National Park Service responded to the criticism and requests from users by retrofitting both chickees with a very easily accessible lower middle platform that is now easy for anybody to use! The chickees are like open-air, outback condominiums; just be sure to bring some tarps to lie down on, as the wooden floor spacing is big enough for things like keys and wallets to fall through! It’s also good to carry extra tarps to use for a wind break or to cover up the bird guano that’s often present. Each chickee features an east wing and a west wing linked by cat walks to a porta-potty toilet in the middle.

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Snake Bight kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan canoe panoramic 360 sky Garfield low tide shark chickee point sea turtle grass bank

In the middle of Snake Bight – a quintessential Florida Bay experience. Enjoy this 360 wrap around seat of the kayak view!
CLICK for VR 360 aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

Florida Bay & Keys Aerial VR Panoramas

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Florida Bay johnson key chickee Kayak Everglades Camp Flamingo tower flats turtle grass Keys photo

The Flamingo tower is always your homing beacon!
Extreme telephoto closeup of the cell tower at Flamingo from six miles away on the Johnson Key chickee. Photographed here with “Hubble Jr” at a mind blowing 11 000mm effective focal length!

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Situated right next to Flamingo is a cell phone tower which makes an excellent landmark that remains visible about as far as most recreational kayakers care to go in the ‘Bay. During the day a white flashing light can be seen on top, and at night this switches to two alternately glowing red lights. This generally makes navigating easy up to about a 13 mile radius outside of Flamingo as long as the weather is clear. You can see it from most of the camping destinations described here including East Cape, Little Rabbit Key, the Shark Point chickee and the Johnson Key chickee.

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Aerial view of Shark Point chickee and the surrounding sea grass beds.

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The improved lower central access platform on the Shark Point chickee condominium.

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Shark Point chickee camping platform in Florida Bay.

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Due west from Flamingo, there is a great camping opportunity on the beach at East Cape, about 11 miles away. This one is easy to navigate – just follow the coastline there and back. You can not get lost! Along this route are also two other ground campsites: East Club House Beach and another at Club House Beach. Incidentally, these two are accessible by foot via the Coastal Prairie Trail. At certain times of the year, when water levels in the Everglades are high, more adventurous paddlers can opt and try going to East Cape via an interior route!

However East Cape is the start of a long stretch of beautiful sandy beaches that extend more than ten miles northward. It’s a great place for group camping!!

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Flex Maslan East Cape aerial beach camp kayakfari Everglades Canoe raulerson prairie trail spoonbill pass photography kayak

Aerial 360 view group camping at East Cape in the Everglades.
CLICK for VR 360 aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp mud flats low tide canoe turtle grass Carl Ross Keys Flex Maslan kayakfari.com

Solo beach camping at East Cape.

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The Milky Way as seen from East Cape on Florida Bay.

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II

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About six miles south of East Cape and nine miles southwest of Flamingo is a group of three islands that were once a single island named Sandy Key, but over time and after a few hurricanes, has split into three separate sections. Back in 1832, Sandy Key was the place where John James Audubon collected bird specimens to create the bird sketches and paintings he later published in his famous book The Birds of America. To get to Sandy Key, you’ll likely have to go over a flats bank affectionately named the First National Bank. Check the tides for Flamingo and East Cape before you launch, to avoid getting stranded on the bank! Carl Ross Key is the northernmost of the three islands and is a day use only area like Bradley Key, but much farther away from Flamingo, so plan accordingly. The southernmost and largest of the three islets retains the name Sandy Key. It is a bird sanctuary and is off-limits to the general public.

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Flying over Carl Ross Key into the sunset over Florida Bay.
CLICK for VR 360 aerial panoramic – try it on your smart phone!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art carl ross key

Low tide at Carl Ross Key in western Florida Bay.
“The Flats Monster” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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A Sting Ray scuttles in the shallows surrounding Carl Ross Key in the Everglades.
“Above & Below” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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To the east, roughly in the middle of Florida Bay, sits Little Rabbit Key, possibly the most remote and beautiful little island camp spot of all. It actually has a good amount of dry land, with an interior about the size and shape of a baseball field. Most of the island is covered with low vegetation like saltworts and glassworts and the entire island is ringed with a black mangrove forest. Although it receives a fair amount of recreational boater use, especially by passing fishermen, it is kept clean, and on the weekdays you might have it all to yourself. It’s approximately 12.5 miles as the crow flies from Flamingo, but you might paddle closer to 15 miles depending on the tides and thus the banks you’ll have to go around. There are two porta-potties just off the wooden dock and a convenient picnic table. It offers plenty of solitude, and it’s very dark and quiet out there in the middle of the Bay.

Little Rabbit Key is less than 200 meters wide, and if you paddle around it on a moonless night, you can see the glow of lights from the various towns of the populated keys over the horizon across the Bay. There is a deep water channel surrounding the entire island that is maybe eight feet deep and full of fish and marine life. Water temperatures range from the low 70’s in winter to near 90 in summer, so it’s a great place to swim or snorkel year-round!

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography art little rabbit key aerial

Aerial seagul’s eye view of Little Rabbit Key in central Florida Bay.
“Little Rabbit Key Aerial” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Lots of fishes and marine life in the deeper channel that surrounds Little Rabbit Key.

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A good night’s camping on Little Rabbit Key in Florida Bay.

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Mornings like this are made on Florida Bay!
“A view to a Chill” – ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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The east end of Florida Bay currently has only one official campsite. It’s at North Nest Key, about six miles due northwest of Key Largo. It makes for a good day trip. This island receives much more use because of it’s close proximity to the upper Florida Keys, as they are easily accessible via the Overseas Highway (US 1) from the mainland. There is a dock with two outhouses on the west end of the island, but the best camping spots are on the north shore of North Nest, though much of the island is ringed with a thin strip of sandy beach. This eastern section of the Bay has an even more quintessential “Florida Keys” feel to it, with pastel magenta hues in the sunsets and clear translucent light green waters.

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Welcome to North Nest Key in eastern Florida Bay.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography nest key colors

Group arrival at North Nest Key in the late afternoon.

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Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography nest key colors

An XXL sunset over Florida Bay.

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From North Nest it is a rather long stretch westward to Flamingo at about 27  statute miles. The nearest backcountry campsite is still a somewhat distant 19 miles due west at Shark Point chickee. Additionally, to the northeast there is an unofficial free campsite at Short Key in Barnes Sound, about 14  miles away just outside of Everglades National Park boundaries. Be aware that Short Key is very popular with Keys residents, especially  on weekends. It is their backyard, after all!

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Miami Flamingo kayakfari florida bay flex maslan 029 digital029art short key dragover turkey point key largo keys everglades kayak nest key black betty end key shark point chickee paddlle kayakfari.com digital029art.com

Kayakfari ART: The glow from metro Miami lines up with Turkey Point nuclear plant, an eerie sight from Short Key!

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Good times kayak camping on Short Key!

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

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Currently, more ambitious trips, such as crossing Florida Bay from east to west, will demand about 12 hours of paddling at a stretch because of the large distances involved. Short Key thus makes a great stopover point during such a Miami to Flamingo across the Bay trip. The three new additional proposed chickee platforms will one day provide much needed camping and rest options in eastern and central Florida Bay. This growing network of camping platforms will soon make it possible to really enjoy all of the Bay! An equally exciting longer trip is an Across the Bay : a north – south crossing of Florida Bay. Flamingo to Long Key is about 30 miles each way, and the aforementioned Little Rabbit Key is conveniently positioned just about in the middle. This breaks each day into more comfortable 15 mile chunks that are within reach of intermediate and experienced paddlers. Long Key is the natural choice for the camping paddler, as Long Key State Park has a few chickee camping platforms on the ocean side. You can expect to get temporarily stranded on a long trip like this because the tides won’t always be in your favor.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com Florida Bay satellite route paddle Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp canoe

Some of my routes traveled over Florida Bay.
Note the need for more access points and camping options in the eastern part of the Bay!

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Florida Bay has also inspired me to create a surreal series – “Extreme Birdwatching”

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Surreal Digital Art from Florida Bay
Extreme Birdwatching series at www.decoratedreality.com

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Getting out, paddling and exploring Florida Bay can be a real treat, although the challenging tides and long distances are not for beginners. For the prepared paddler however, this is a place like no other, where one can truly step back in time for a few hours or a few days. Your senses will be renewed as the sights and sounds of the Bay become more and more vivid. The taste of moist air and the feel of salty warm water strangely balance each other. Evenings and nights are particularly delightful as you deeply inhale that sweet easterly breeze and watch the stars emerge above. To spend some time paddling the waters of this less visited paddling Eden is to take a step outside the world of people and take in some of the most beautiful and memorable sights anywhere on our blue planet.

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Florida Bay & Keys Aerial VR Panoramas

Florida Bay Kayak Everglades kayakfari Camp paddle flex maslan photography sunset panorama

A sunset procession over Florida Bay. Goodnight!
“Sunset procession over Florida Bay” – ART of the Bay series of Florida Bay Landscapes.

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Enjoy!

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To learn more about Florida Bay I can recommend this informative and beautifully done book. There is a wealth of information inside along with incredible images by internationally recognized and top local Everglades photographers. If you like Florida Bay and the Keys, you will LOVE this book!

Full Disclosure: A few of my images are in it too.

Everglades Foundation Florida Bay Forever book photography Flex Maslan kayakfari kayak canoe water keys Maslin kayakfari.com dan burkhardt acclaim press published jimmy buffett fishing

“Florida Bay Forever” – Everglades Foundation book edited by Dan Burkhardt (with some photography by Flex Maslan).
Cover photo by Rob O’Neal

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© 2014 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said.. Blessings friends!

🙂

.

rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure everglades

21 comments on “Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

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  19. I love your article. I am a fairly new transplant to the keys and recently discovered there are campgrounds out in the bay. I was wondering if you had reccomendations for launches in key largo.

    Like

    • Hi Christine, thanks for the interest!
      There are definitely chickees and places to camp in Florida Bay, as described in my article. These are best reached by starting at Flamingo inside Everglades National Park. The only exception is North Nest Key, which is much closer to Key Largo. However these are all primitive campsites, they are not campgrounds. If you’re gonna spend some time in the Keys, I can recommend a book called “Florida Keys Paddling Atlas” by Bill and Mary Burnham. There are lots of places to paddle in the Keys, but not that many remote campsites, if that’s what you’re looking for. You should also visit the local paddling shops and outfitters, starting with Florida Bay Outfitters on Key Largo. Talk with Frank and Monica, they probably carry the book and can give you a lot of local knowledge about safety, where to go, where to park, etc. It’s a beautiful day, enjoy! 🙂

      Like

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