Cabbage Key is an island near the southern end of Cayo Costa. It is a popular place with a long and interesting history. Last Dance took a spot at the Cabbage Key Marina to provide the crew an opportunity to explore this island.
The Calusa inhabited this area at least 3700 years ago. They were known as the Shell People because their diet consisted of seafood, mainly shellfish. The oyster, clam, and scallop shells were stacked in piles known as shell middens. Thousands of years of shells make high mounds. The Spanish came and the Calusa are no more. In 1929, Alan and Gratia Rinehart purchased Cabbage Key and built their winter estate on one of the shell middens. In 1944, Larry and Jan Stults bought the island, turning the house and property into a resort. It has continually been operated as a resort since, with only two other owners since 1969.
The walls of the restaurant and bar are covered in dollar bills. Patrons write their names on a dollar bill and tape it to the wall. With the many thousands of visitors a year, the dollar bill wallpaper becomes quite thick.
A few of the dollar bills signed by the more famous of the visitors are famed. Of course, Jimmy Buffett's dollar bill is behind the bar,
along with one signed by Jimmy and Rosilyn Cater, and one left by John F. Kennedy, Jr.
On the wall, among many dollar bills is a poster signed by Randy Wayne White, one of Glen's favorite authors and a resident of nearby Sanibel Island.
|The Cabbage Key dockhouse|
The dockhouse has the marina office, a gift store, and the marina showers. The shower sign indicates its location and provides a suggestion.
Behind the dockhouse, on the highest point of the island, is the original water tower, completely constructed of wood, including the tank. It also serves as an observation tower and home to a family of Osprey.
Those who only visit the restaurant miss much that Cabbage Key has to offer. Most of the island has been left in its natural, undeveloped state. A walking trail runs the length of the island through a variety of native vegetation. Many of the plant varieties are labeled, making the walk an educational tour as well as a pleasant walk.
The Spanish Stopper tree grows in south Florida and the Caribbean. It gets it name from the anti-diarrhea properties of the berries.
The Florida Strangler Fig is a parasite. Its seed lands in a crack or crevice of a tree, then germinates sending air roots to get water and nutrients from the host tree. The roots eventually reach the ground and the Strangler Fig continues adding roots until the root system is strangling the host tree. This Strangler Fig has attached to a Cabbage Palm, its favorite host, completely girdling the tree with roots.
The grounds also included some non-native plants that added color. The experience of touring native flora is better at Cabbage Key than in the State Parks along the coast. A park with an entertaining restaurant.