Winter Island Escapes: Cabbage Key, Florida

Start planning where to warm up this winter. We’ve made it easy with these 15 adventure-packed, off-radar island hideaways.

Cabbage Key, Florida.    Photo: Jo Crebbin/Shutterstock

100 acres
Primitive barrier island, no roads, big tarpon

Turns out you don’t have to fly halfway around the world to disappear. In the early 1930s, the family of mystery novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart built a sprawling home on a 28-foot shell mound amassed by the Calusa Indians on an island off Florida’s west coast. Not much has changed on Cabbage Key since. In 1976, the Rinehart home was turned into the Cabbage Key Inn, the only lodging on the island (from $119). The front porch looks out onto Pine Island Sound; there are no roads, cars, or even room keys here. But there’s plenty of action offshore, starting with America’s best big-tarpon waters. Local captain Tommy Locke will put you onto 200-pound fish ($700 per day). Or borrow one of the inn’s 12-foot tandem sea kayaks and paddle 20 minutes over to Cayo Costa, a pristine six-mile barrier island. Afterward, indulge in Cabbage Key’s peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp and a Cabbage Creeper (a piña colada-like concoction with coffee liqueur), and toast one of the few places left in Florida where doing nothing is totally acceptable.

ACCESS: Fly to Fort Myers, taxi 20 miles north to Pine Island, and catch a 20-minute water taxi ($32) to Cabbage Key.

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