10 Secret Islands in Florida
Bahia Honda Key
THE GOODS: Oft-overlooked tropical gem in the Lower Keys with a sweet cluster of marina, cabins, and campgrounds. Great tarpon fishing and snorkeling.
BEST ESCAPE: Overnight at Bahia Honda State Park amid other Keys explorations; bahiahondapark.com.
THE GOODS: Four white-sand beaches and a low-key Gulf Coast zeitgeist that includes watersports and an awesome local tiki bar.
BEST ESCAPE: Weekend at Manasota Beach Club; manasotabeachclub.com.
THE GOODS: Largest island in Biscayne National Park in the Upper Keys with past inhabitants including pineapple farmers, spongers, and wreck divers. Great birding, kayaking, and snorkeling.
BEST ESCAPE: Day-trip by boat from Convoy Point or tent camp overnight; nps.gov/bisc.
THE GOODS: A half hour from Fort Myers and a world away with a dose of Old Florida charm including brightly colored cottages, fruit-tree nurseries, and seafood dives.
BEST ESCAPE: Long weekend (book a day of fishing) at Tarpon Lodge; tarponlodge.com.
THE GOODS: A slender barrier island that serves as the beachy backyard for historic St. Augustine. A gorgeous lighthouse and maritime museum, a busy fishing pier, and 42 miles of silken Atlantic beaches.
BEST ESCAPE: Weeklong cottage rental near Matanzas Inlet; rentalconnections.com.
St. George Island
THE GOODS: A Panhandle treasure on the Gulf with 22 miles of unspoiled, pet-friendly beaches, a serene and low-key community, and a picturesque lighthouse.
BEST ESCAPE: Hide away with a weeklong cottage rental; uncommonflorida.com.
THE GOODS: An easy-going, but upscale island boasts stylish shops and boutiques, as well as excellent seafood restaurants. In the off-season, beachgoers can have the water to themselves, going the whole day without seeing anyone.
BEST ESCAPE: Splurge for a weekend at The Gasparilla Inn, an Old-Florida jewel with immense charms; the-gasparilla-inn.com.
THE GOODS: It's true time travel to this Old Florida outpost, where you can kayak on salt marshes, or just roam around town checking out vintage fishing sheds and stores perched on stilts over the Gulf of Mexico waters.
BEST ESCAPE: Park it for a long weekend at the atmospheric Island Hotel (don't miss the murals in the hotel bar--they're epic); islandhotel-cedarkey.com.
THE GOODS: Just off of St. Petersburg, a hidden paradise only a block wide with art galleries, shops, beach bars and historic hotels.
ESCAPE: Steps from the beach, the old-charm Coconut Inn offers rooms with kitchens, free use of bicycles and beach chairs, and a pool; sabalpalms.com
Boca Grande Key
THE GOODS: A wild, white-sand island 14 miles from Key West and protected by the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Sunsets here are legend
BEST ESCAPE: Day-trip with Tortuga Sailing Adventures for underwater shelling or seasonal lobster hunts; tortugasailingadventures.com.