Big Pine Key or Big Pine for short, is located in Monroe County Florida on U.S Hwy 1 Mile Markers 29.5 – 33. It is approximately 9.9 miles of land and .2 miles of water with a population of 5,000 people as of the 2000 census. No Name Key is its neighbor.
Big Pine Key is home to the National Key Deer Refuge, established in 1967 to protect the endangered Deer Population and where a large portion of the Key Deer population can be found. The Key Deer is smaller in size then other white tailed deer averaging 50-75 lbs. for males and 40-65 lbs. for females. The Deer are a reddish brown to grayish brown in color.
One of Big Pine’s attraction is a rock quarry that was used by Henry Flagler during the construction of the Overseas Railroad, named the Blue Hole. The water consists of mostly fresh water and provides a freshwater habitat for alligators and wading birds.
Near the Blue hole you will also find the Jack C. Watson Nature Trail which is part of the National Key Deer Refuge. The trail is less than a mile long and well worth the walk. The rich fauna of the Keys is displayed throughout with slash pine forest and even some Poisonwoods. Poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum), also called Florida Poison Tree or Hog Gum is a species of flowering tree in the cashew or sumac family (Anacardiaceae). The sap causes serious skin and mucus irritations upon contact. Any part of the tree may carry the sap so handling any part of the poisonwood should be avoided. The Jack C. Watson Nature Trail is clearly marked with warning signs.
There are shopping centers and several stores located throughout U.S. Hwy 1 providing the locals and tourist with food and supplies. The No Name Pub on Watson Blvd, is another must visit location.
The No Name Pub whose slogan is “A Nice Place If You Can Find It”, has just about every surface covered with thousands of fluttering dollar bills from visitors. The bar started as a general store and bait and tackle shop in 1931.
Big Pine Key offers a variety of things to do, from local art to fishing, boating, scuba diving and snorkeling. This is the place for a low key vacation. White sandy beaches of the National Key Deer Rescue to some of the best Seafood Restaurants in the nation.