Tucked between Key Largo and Islamorada in the Florida Keys, the Island Bay Resort is Florida Keys kitsch with an ocean view. The ten-cottage resort offers beachfront access at an affordable rate, plus a location that’s great for those looking to dive and fish in the Upper Middle Keys.
Each cottage is a self-contained unit, with efficiency (studio) and one- and two-bedroom cottages available. I was in a studio, with had a comfy queen bed with a colorful quilt, a small kitchenette with sink and mini-fridge, a small sitting table with two chairs, and a cozy bathroom with shower. With white wood and wicker furniture, bright colors, and tile floors, the decor places you immediately in the tropics.
The larger cottages are two-room suites, with king beds, full sofa-beds in the living rooms, and smaller loveseats in the bedrooms, and larger kitchens with full-size refrigerators. Every room has a TV (one- and two-bedroom cottages have two), free WiFi, AC and ceiling fans, and private decks with Weber grills and deck chairs.
The rooms are comfy and homey, with walls covered with Florida Keys artwork and with photos taken by Mike Shipley, who, along with his wife, owns the resort. Mike and Carol fell in love with the Keys and purchased the resort in 2000. Both certified divers and experienced hospitality professionals, they know how to create a welcoming atmosphere for guests – and they can recommend the best dive spots in the area.
There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles at the resort, making it ideal for those who want to get out and explore, or for those who don’t require a lot of stimulation. There’s a small sandy beach at the water’s edge, but (typical of the Florida Keys) the ocean floor here is strewn with rocks, shells, and seaweed. Great for snorkelers and fishing enthusiasts; not great for those who want sugar-soft sand and crystal-clear water.
Thankfully, there’s plenty to do in the area, including chartering a boat (or taking out your own; the Island Bay Resort offers dockage for guests), snorkeling, diving, fishing, or going farther afield on day trips to the other Keys. And of course, if you want to do a bit less, the resort is a great place for relaxing. During my trip I often saw guests simply lounging on their private decks or watching the spectacular sunset from the resort’s beach.
If you go: Efficiency cottages start at $229 per night.