The Washington Times - June 4, 2008, 10:43AM

 By Lisa Ruth


Associate Editor and Writer, Donne Tempo Magazine

Day 2 – When Is A Beach Not A Beach?

Another beautiful day in the Keys.

We woke up and went fishing at the dock right outside our townhouse. There is nothing better than hearing the ziiiinnnnggggg of a well-cast fishing rod.

Connor and Ross on the dock (Photo by Lisa Ruth)

We saw a big barracuda under the dock, but he is a smart dock fish who didn’t fall for our fake fishing lures. We taught Kailey, who had never fished before, to bait a hook and cast.  We were the only people out there, and it was nice and quiet.

About noon, we loaded up the car and headed to the beach.  Singh Resorts advertise the beach at Tranquility Bay as “one of the largest beaches in Marathon” and guests at Indigo Reef have access to all Tranquility Bay amenities, so we headed to that property. 

My impression of Tranquility Bay is that it is more squished together and had a less appealing feel than Indigo Reef.  We walked to the “swimming beach” but it is small and there are no waves (for boogie boarding).  There is also a sign forbidding coolers (which we had packed up) so we decided to head to the public beach, Sombrero Beach, which is very close by.

If you’ve never been to the Keys, be warned:  it is not the place to go if you want to go to a gorgeous beach.  There are no natural beaches in the Keys, so those wide, white sandy beaches you picture aren’t here.  If you want great Florida beaches, go to Fort Lauderdale or Miami or Captiva or Fort Myers, but not the Keys.  They’re just not made that way.  So even the best beaches in the Keys are not the best beaches.

Sombrero Beach is a really good beach for the Keys.  It’s at mile marker 50, on the ocean side.  It’s about 12 miles of beach, with clean restrooms and picnic tables.  Nice place.

We spent the entire day at the beach, watching the kids skim board, boogie board, play in the sand, play football, play baseball, meet other kids, collect coral, and chase each other.  We rested and people-watched. 

Dogs are allowed on the beach so there was a really cute golden retriever puppy there, and a lot of people who probably should have been wearing more clothes than they were. 

The air temperature was around 85 and the water was probably 75, which made it perfect.

We came back to Indigo Reef around 5 and sat out back with margaritas, watching the family next door attempt to fly a kite. Kind of the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – but it was actually fun to watch.  The kids grabbed their rods again and headed to the end of the dock (again, the definition of insanity), still didn’t catch anything but had a great time doing it.

Pretty good day, all in all…


Day 3 – Sailing, Sailing, Over The Ocean Blue

Connor and Ross on the boat (Photo by Lisa Ruth)

Today is the first day we took out the boat.  We went to the “Top Catch Bait Shop” across the street from Indigo Reef and got bait, rigs, and excellent fishing advice.  Really nice people.  I have to admit, we found better prices on bait at the Walgreens directly across the street, but I thought the surcharge was worth it for the advice. 

Probably the best piece of advice they gave us was to buy a small, waterproof map called “hot spots” that included the GPS coordinates for great fishing spots.

…and off we went to the ocean. 

The trip from Indigo Reef to the ocean was beautiful.  Gorgeous blue-green water with nice boaters waving hello.  We saw pelicans and cormorants and a lot of seagulls.

We anchored upstream from one of the patch reefs our friendly bait shop guys had told us about.  Unfortunately, the seas were about 1-2 feet, not bad when you’re boating, but for those of us with weak stomachs, it gets a little uncomfortable after you anchor. 

One of the kids has a tendency to motion sickness (note to self:  stock the boat with Dramamine for future trips), so after about five minutes anchored, he was more than a little uncomfortable. 

We let out the chum and about five small grunts surrounded it.  We had just dumped the rest of the chum and decided to head back to help Ross feel better, but I threw out one more rod with a shrimp and caught a grunt.

The other two kids (not Ross) grabbed their poles and threw them in the water and came up with grunts.  Kailey’s first fish ever!  We lasted about five more minutes on the reef before I started getting queasy too and Ross was really done, so we reeled in (five grunts and a yellow tail).

We headed back to the Gulf side – and much calmer waters – and in about three minutes Ross had recovered and wanted to fish.  We checked our handy Hot Spot map and found a location in the Gulf that supposedly was good for fishing (although not a reef, so less good than where we were, but also less vomiting). 

On the way to the spot, we saw a pod of three dolphins just ahead of our boat.  The view is incredible.  Even without chum, Ross caught a barracuda – twice!  He couldn’t land it, but he caught it and we all saw it.  Connor and Kailey caught a few grunts, and then we pulled anchor and went to the next Hot Spot.  We caught a few more grunts and Connor was complaining about not catching anything. 

Connor and Johnathan, brave fishermen who practice catch and release! (Photo by Lisa Ruth)

We were down to five shrimp, Connor still grouching about lack ‘o fish, but we kept trying.  Ross caught one more grunt, down to the last remaining bait on Connor’s hook and in typical Connor fashion, he landed a baby hammerhead shark!!!

We headed back, everyone happy, slightly sunburned, telling fish stories.

For dinner, Jonathan and I went to the Island Fish Company.  The short version is it’s a great place, amazing atmosphere.  The food is very good, the view is outstanding, and the service is excellent.  After dinner, we sat at the bar and had a drink, which was also a pleasant experience.   Really good place.  In fact, we’re going back tonight. 

Lisa is a Florida girl with a deep love of family and friends, the sun and the sea.  Combine them together and you have a perfect ocean side vacation! Lisa is also associate editor and writer for Donne Tempo Magazine.

Read about Day One of Lisa’s Indigo Reef Adventure here.