It's time to take a deep, honest breath and acknowledge your need for some disconnect time. Because if you're like most of us, you're running on fumes. It's time you plug into Cabbage Key, instead.

And no, we're not talking about coleslaw. Recharge your battery, smooth out those stress lines, and calm your spirit on this tiny tropical island far away from the modern hustle.

What Is Cabbage Key?

Cabbage Key is a small, privately-owned island in the Gulf of Mexico, lying off the city of Fort Myers. Cabbage Key is the smallest of a group of barrier islands in Pine Island Sound. However, it is 100 acres of tropical battery-recharging paradise.

You can click here to read the fascinating history of this small barrier island. And discover the degrees of separation between Batman, Corning, and Jimmy Buffet.

Unplug and Recharge

Cabbage Key is a place that invites bare feet to be massaged by warm sand while tropical breezes, carrying faint scents of coconut, cool your skin.

It's where traffic means pods of dolphin, schools of manatee, flocks of birds, and happy boaters stopping by for refreshments. The only honking you'll hear comes from a passing pelican or seagull.

It's a place that is free of commercialization and chock full of "old Florida" charm and atmosphere. This is where a turtle that's sauntering by sets the pace.

With no bridge or paved roads, the only way to get to Cabbage Key is by boat or small seaplane, so this means you'll need to traverse the island on foot.

To get to Cabbage Key, you can take The Island Girls Water Taxi (about $30.00) from the Pineland Marina on Pine Island. You'll be leaving your car, computer, cell phone, and stress behind as you step away from the mainland.

Once you're on the water, watch for the dolphins. And as you get closer to Cabbage Key, you might spot a few manatees slowly meandering through the shallow waters. Are you starting to relax?

What to Pack

summer packs

Image via Pixabay

We're not sure why they tell you to pack a flashlight, but we'll assume they might know something we don't. It doesn't take much room, and it never hurts to have one anyway, so pack one. Also make sure to pack a swimsuit or two, some flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirts. It's time to be casual.

But don't get too casual and forget the sunscreen, because the Florida sun is no joke. You might also want to bring a good hat to keep those intense Florida rays from burning your nose.

While you're putting together your items for your getaway, think about packing a book or two, even a book of puzzles. Also, don't forget some paper and pencils, in case you get inspired by all of the beauty around you.

If you plan on fishing, pack that rod and reel and your tackle box. If you'd rather do some kayaking instead of fishing, bring your own or rent one there.

And make sure you pack a few one-dollar bills to put up in the lounge, it's what they do, and they'll tell you why. Try to see if there's a space near Jimmy Buffet's or JFK's dollar bill to tape yours.

Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant

The Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant welcomes you to stay in one of their eight air-conditioned rental cottages or six rooms located in the historic inn. All rooms, including the inn, restaurant, and lounge, are smoke-free.

Rates are higher during the busy season, from February 14 through July 15, and holidays, including holiday weekends. Namely Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and New Years Day.

All rates are subject to change, and discounts are available for extended stays. However, note that the room and cottage rates are per day, not per person.

There is no cable, satellite, or DVD player in the rooms because there are no televisions! They're serious about unplugging. But who needs them when there's so much to enjoy outside?

Although there are no landline phones, there is cell phone coverage on the island, with the best reception at the docks. Wi-Fi is available, but only in the restaurant. As we said, it's "old Florida."

The Cabbage Key Inn

The Cabbage Key Inn has six guest rooms available, and they all have private baths and convenient access to the restaurant and lounge.

Room rates vary from about $100 to $200 per day, depending on the room, day of the week, and holidays.

Cottages for up to four guests

Dollhouse Cottage

The Dollhouse Cottage, also called the "honeymoon suite," accommodates two guests. It has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a living room. It's also on the water with a private dock and a screened porch.

Dollhouse Cottage rates vary from about $200 to $250 per day.

Rinehart Cottage

The Rinehart Cottage accommodates four guests and has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a living room. There's a screened front porch that overlooks the marina, as well.

Rinehart Cottage rates vary from about $200 to $350 per day.

Cabbage Patch Cottage

The Cabbage Patch Cottage accommodates four guests, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a fully equipped and furnished kitchen. The cottage is located on the water with a private dock.

Cabbage Patch Cottage rates are about $350 to $450 per day.

Tarpon Cottage

The Tarpon Cottage is a historic fishing outpost that was constructed in the 1930s for the New York aquarium to study Tarpon.

In January 2010, it was completely remodeled and can accommodate four guests. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a living room. Also, there's a fully equipped and furnished kitchen, and it's located on the water with a private dock and screened front porch.

Tarpon Cottage rates vary from about $250 to $400 per day.

Blue Heron Cottage

The Blue Heron Stilt Cottage accommodates four guests with two bedrooms and one bathroom. It also has a fully equipped and furnished kitchen and a large screened front porch.

Blue Heron Cottage rates vary from about $250 to $400 per day.

Osprey Cottage

The newly remodeled Osprey Cottage accommodates four guests with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It also has a fully equipped and furnished kitchen as well as a private dock and porches with Pine Island Sound views.

Osprey Cottage rates vary from about $325 to $400 per day

Cottages for more than four guests

Snook Cottage

The two-story Snook Cottage accommodates six guests and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It's on a private parcel of land separated by a canal.

This stilt cottage, remodeled in 2012, has two bedrooms upstairs, one bedroom downstairs, and a living room. It also has a fully furnished kitchen, screened porch, and a private dock.

Snook Cottage rates vary from about $350 to $500 per day.

Harborview Cottage

The two-story Harborview Cottage accommodates eight guests. The main living area, located on the second floor, consists of a full kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, and two full bathrooms.

Also, the downstairs area has a bedroom, an open room with two twin beds, and one bathroom. Outside you'll find a private dock, as well.

Harborview Cottage rates vary from about $400 to $550 per day

Cheeseburgers in paradise?

Located in the "old house," the open-air restaurant at the Cabbage Key Inn is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Because there's no other place to purchase food on Cabbage Key, plan to eat at the restaurant, bring food with you, or arrange to leave the island for meals.

They serve breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 7:30 to 10 a.m. on Sundays.

Breakfast offerings range from yogurt, around $4, to Chilled Smoked Salmon, approximately $15, with several of the usual breakfast choices in between. A hearty breakfast will cost about $15 before taxes and tip.

If you're planning a day out and about, have them pack a lunch and drink to go while you're having breakfast. A packed lunch and beverage will cost you around $20.

They serve lunch from 11:15 a.m. to 3 p.m, Monday through Friday, and from 11:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Due to the fact that Cabbage Key is a favorite stop for boaters, expect more visitors in the afternoon and evening.

Lunch can be anything from soups to salads to sandwiches to stone crab claws. A cup of soup will be around $6, and salads start at $8. The stone crab claws are always market-priced.

A Cabbage Key Hamburger is around $13. And rumor has it that this burger was the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise." Plan on spending about $20 for lunch, plus tax and tip

They serve dinner from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday, with reservations appreciated.

Appetizers will set you back around $15, and dinner entrees around $25 to $40. But plan on more if you order one of their market-priced items.

And know that they do not split checks: one table, one check.


sparkling wines

Image via Pixabay

Adjacent to the restaurant is a full-service bar that offers premium brand alcohol and a wine list that's available on request.

There is a full menu of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Soft drinks (Pepsi products) are around $2, juices, tea, and coffee are approximately $3. Beer is about $5, and the house wine is about $8 a glass — plan on spending around $10 for a cocktail.

You can bring wine to the restaurant, but there's a corkage fee of $20 to $25, depending on the size of the bottle.

Around the Key

First, climb the water tower for a panoramic view of Pine Island Sound. Next, take a leisurely walk through the winding nature trails. And watch the turtles amble over the vegetation, count the different birds you see, but be on the lookout for alligators.

Or you can sit back and enjoy the gentle gulf breezes while reading a book, or sip a nice glass of wine and watch the clouds meander by. All while recharging as you inhale that warm, therapeutic salt air.

And if you have the next best-selling novel locked inside your brain itching to get out, get up early and grab a pencil and some paper. Then take a few deep breaths of those warm Gulf breezes, and write. It worked for Hemingway.

Or take your fishing rod and reel, sit on the dock, and see what nibbles at your hook. They say the dockmaster is very helpful and can probably tell you where the fish are biting.

When I'm in Southwest Florida, my favorite thing to do late in the day is to have a nice glass of wine, sit on the beach, and watch the sun slowly slip below the horizon. Exhale.

On the water

There are so many fun things to do, like to go kayaking. Bring your kayak or talk to the dockmaster -- he'll set you up. If you don't own one, you can rent a kayak for around $50.

Or take a boat over to Cayo Costa and enjoy some beautiful pristine beaches. Again, talk to the dockmaster. You can rent a 14-foot skiff for around $80.

The dockmaster will become your new best friend. Just make sure to show him how much you appreciate his help.


Leave your computer, cell phone, and stress locked in your car and unplug at Cabbage Key. You won't believe how quickly your batteries will recharge. Because nothing beats Cabbage Key's "old Florida" when it comes to letting go of your stress.

Let us know in the comments below your favorite way to re-charge your batteries. And if you've been to Cabbage Key, did you tape a dollar bill to the wall?

Featured Image via Pixabay

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