Located a mere 15 miles from Key West, Lower Sugarloaf Key is quiet, but has plenty to offer for a day of fun. What started as a pineapple grove and haven for spongers, pirates and pioneers eventually turned more toward a residential fishing community with a fire department, lodge, and a few other entities on the island like a marina, auto shop and real estate office. At first glance, many just drive past the treasures the little island holds.
EAT: Sugarloaf Lodge and Tiki Bar
The lodge and its tiki bar overlook the Great White Heron refuge and the backcountry. The restaurant offers pizza, subs and tacos, and the tiki’s Sugarloaf Punch is a hit with locals and visitors needing a refreshing cocktail. What’s in the punch? Rum, lots and lots of rum, so make sure you bring a designated driver if road tripping and wanting to taste what the punch is all about!
DO: Sugarloaf Jumping Bridge
Too afraid to jump out of a plane? How about just jumping off a bridge? Located at the end of residential Sugarloaf Boulevard, oceanside, the jumping bridge is the perfect stop to picnic and follow through with the saying, “If your friends jumped off a bridge…” To find, drive to where the road takes a hard right, park a short distance away, and climb through the yellow barrier to the left. Follow Old U.S.1 – yes, that’s pretty cool all in itself – to the bridge, about a six-minute walk. It’s deep enough that we haven’t touched the bottom once while jumping. Don’t forget your water shoes, a camera, and since it is an active waterway, watch for boats.
SEE: The fallen bat tower
Hurricane Irma wrecked a lot of things in the Lower Keys, including the Perky Bat Tower. Down the same road as Skydive Key West, gulfside, the tower was a failed project to help with the mosquito problem. According to Sugarloaf historian Jerry Wilkinson, Perky bought 1,000 bats and hired a batkeeper. The legend has it that the bats woke up at the first sunset and never returned.
PLAN: Skydive Key West
This is a must-do. There is something about jumping out of a plane above the Florida Keys and Sky Dive Key West, located on Lower Sugarloaf Key, is known as “the most scenic drop in America.” For $245, get a literal bird’s-eye view of the islands from 10,500 feet. Then make the free fall at 120 miles per hour followed by a five-minute sightseeing tour before landing on the grassy field below. To make a reservation or learn more, visit skydivekeywest.com.