by Stephen Jermanok
The Florida Keys have a lot of similarities with Cape Cod, except, of course, the warm weather come winter. Like Cape Cod, the Keys has its ocean side, where the sun rises, and the bay side, where the sun sets. At the tip of the Keys is Key West, a glitzy town known for its nightlife, not unlike Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. This might be ideal for couples, but for families who clamor for the beach, ocean, bay and family-friendly sites that keep kids entertained, there’s no need to go past Islamorada. This is where you’ll find Coconut Cove Resort & Marina, an affordable oceanfront hotel housing 20 rooms and simple cottages on a seven-acre estate.
Coconut Cove is not a luxurious resort, but a hotel with new rooms, a short strip of beach, a pool ideally suited for children, a fish pond, a dock to tie up rented Jet Skies and fishing boats and a fitness center. Best yet is the hotel’s locale in Islamorada, just down the road from Theater of the Sea, a small-scale version of Sea World, and the sands and shallow waters on the bay side at nearby Founders Park. Only a 90-minute drive from Miami International Airport, Coconut Cove is the perfect retreat from the winter blues up north.
Our Editor Loves
- Kid-friendly pool
- Fish-feeding at the pond
- Waking up to the sunrise over the ocean
- Water Sports
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The resort's 20 rooms are split between the more affordable Captains, which are rustic cabins, Generals, found in the new building, and the largest, the Admirals. The Admirals are the best choice for families. They feature two queen beds and a sleeper couch, a full kitchen, a flat-screen TV, a patio amidst the palms, air conditioning, ample closet and drawer space, and a shower with a tub. The Generals have a queen and a single bed with a mini-fridge, a microwave, a balcony with a slight ocean view, air conditioning and a Jacuzzi tub. The Captains are simple ground-level cottages with queen and single beds, a full kitchen and patio. All rooms come with free wireless Internet service. Rollaway beds and cribs are available for an extra fee. All rooms are smoke-free and pets are allowed.
Me and my family have been coming down to the florida keys since the early 90's we have always stayed at Coconut Cove Resort. Perfect location and every year we come its just more and more beautiful. The pool there is the best with beautiful water fall not to mention Owner n staff are very nice and very attentive (5 ????)
Wishing i was there right now!!!
Peaceful & Relaxing ????
Coconut cove is the place to stay!????
My wife and I were married in August 2018 at coconut cove . It was absolutely amazing and everything we could have asked for. We do go to the keys about twice a year and recently stopped at Coconut cove and was informed that somebody posted a bad review " wedding dump " about our wedding . That is a bogus review that somebody made up , the person is from Canada and stated wedding had garbage all around, I don't know and did not have anyone from Canada at my wedding. This is a true keys resort and I would recommend anyone to go there and especially if having a wedding . Paul was a awesome host and provided anything we requested
If you can manage to wake up around sunrise, take the short path through the mangroves to the end of the pier where there's a bench. Have a seat on this spit of land dangling over the water and watch the dolphins swimming in the ocean, pelicans flying overhead and fishermen motoring out for the day's catch.
At 9 a.m., you can grab a cup of complimentary coffee in the lounge. An hour later is the daily feeding at the fish pond. The person working the front desk brings over a pail of herring to feed the hungry tarpon, grouper and spiny lobsters found in the pond. The rest of the morning is spent lounging on the beach or swimming in the large pool, which slopes gently and is ideally suited for kids. The ocean is too rough to swim in. A better choice is the calmer bay side. Coconut Cove clientele get free admission to the large sand beach and gentle waters two miles down the road at Founders Park.
Jet skies, motorboats and sea kayaks can easily be rented for your stay and can be docked at Coconut Cove's docks. Inquire with the front desk regarding your best options for rentals. If you want to go stand-up paddleboarding, head north to Marker 88 on the bay side to find Annette Robertson. She'll rent you paddleboards to play on the bay side, offer instruction to beginners and take families on a guided tour of the region. The best snorkeling outfitter in the area is Captain Slate's Atlantis Dive Center, located at Mile Marker 106.5 in Key Largo. He'll take snorkelers and divers to the pristine reef and waters of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to view the stingrays, purple fan coral and the slew of kaleidoscopic fish.
Within walking distance of Coconut Cove is Theater of the Sea, a highlight for families heading to the Florida Keys. Established in 1946, it's the second oldest marine mammal facility in the world. Wander around the lush tropical gardens and lagoons to find dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, crocodiles, native birds and colorful parrots.
There are no restaurants on property. For breakfast, head to the Hungry Tarpon. Located under a bridge, this nondescript fish shack looks like nothing special from the road. Then walk through the homespun diner to the waterside seating, where you view pelicans and egrets on the docks, while dining on tasty omelets, pancakes, and French toast.
To watch the sunset on the bay side, look for the large mermaid cutout, the sign that you have reached Lorelei Cabana. On the outdoor deck, listen to live music as the orange and reddish sun melts into the sea. Better yet, come when magician Michael Trixx is performing. One of the finest entertainers in the Keys, he's guaranteed to entertain the whole family in this rockin' show.
For dinner, Paesanos offers Italian comfort food in the form of pizzas, calzones and pasta dishes. For fresh fish like fresh-caught snapper, hogfish or grouper, it's hard to top the local favorite, Lazy Days. Sit on the outdoor deck overlooking the ocean and be sure to end with a sublime piece of Key Lime pie.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Patty and Magda, at the front desk, are an incredible source of knowledge. Not only will they tell you where to eat and who to rent equipment from, but offer inside tips like, "if you rent from Jeff, he'll give you an extra 15 minutes on that Jet Ski." Ask them about anything in the area, from fishing guides to the best place to catch the sunset, and they'll share their opinion. Also, don't miss the daily feeding at 10 a.m. at the fishpond. Kids will love the way the spiny lobster pokes his head out of the water to find the food.
The Art of Smart Timing
From Christmas though mid-April, expect the Overseas Highway, the main strip that connects all the Keys, to be engulfed in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Unfortunately, this is the only way in and out of the region. The best part about Islamorada, however, is that you don't have to venture far to get a great meal, play on the beach, and see the sunset. If you want to avoid the traffic and have younger children that don't abide by the school calendar, consider visiting the Keys in November and December, the quiet time before the surge of people.
Coconut Cove is just off Mile Marker 85 on the Overseas Highway in Islamorada. If you're flying into Miami International Airport, give yourself approximately 100 minutes to reach the property.
For Mom and Dad
Look no further than Islamorada's Morada Bay Beach CafÃ©. Sift your toes into the bayside sand, listen to Sinatra and Bennett on the satellite radio, and get ready to dig into some of the freshest seafood this side of Hawaii. Start with mussels in a tasty jalapeno and tomato broth, and then move on to the coconut-crusted hogfish, a tender and sweet whitefish. Perfection!