Cabbage Key Island Offers an Authentic Florida Experience

Cabbage Key Island Offers an Authentic Florida Experience

What makes Cabbage Key Island worth exploring? Cabbage Key Island is as rich in Florida culture as it is in natural wonder.

By Brand Ambassador | February 7, 2022

Cabbage Key Island might be one of the most authentic places left to experience and explore on the Gulf Coast. This 100-acre secluded island west of Fort Myers is accessible only by boat and is a pristine example of Florida’s natural heritage.

What makes Cabbage Key Island worth exploring? Cabbage Key Island is as rich in Florida culture as it is in natural wonder. The underdeveloped island features rustic appeal that showcases what makes the Sunshine State great. From a practically hurricane-proof water tower to a close connection to Jimmy Buffet, Cabbage Key Island is a can’t miss destination on your next Southwest Florida adventure.

Let’s explore Cabbage Key Island so you can plan your next trip to experience this authentic slice of old Florida charm.

Where is Cabbage Key Island Located?

You’ll find Cabbage Key Island off Southwest Florida’s Gulf coast, right at Marker 60 on the Intracoastal Waterway. The island is about 20 miles northwest of Fort Myers and about 8 miles north of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.

You’ll cross the gentle waters of Pine Island Sound to get to Cabbage Key.

How Can You Get to Cabbage Key?

How Can You Get to Cabbage Key?

Planning a trip to Cabbage Key Island? You might need to book a boat. The only way to get to Cabbage Key Island is by boat, ferry, water taxi, or seaplane. There are no bridges or causeways connecting Cabbage Key to the mainland.

One easy way to get to Cabbage Key Island is by water taxi from Jensen’s Marina™. It’s easy to hop from island to island with a guided tour. If a water taxi tour isn’t quite your style, you can also rent a boat at Jensen’s Marina ™ to get to Cabbage Key Island.

What is Cabbage Key Known For?

Cabbage Key Island is best known for its Old Florida appeal. In fact, visiting this rustic island might be like taking a step back in time.

History of Cabbage Key Island

The main building on Cabbage Key Island dates all the way back to 1937. Though today the building serves as a restaurant and inn, it was once the home of the famed mystery author Mary Roberts Rinehart and her family. Mary was known as the “American Agatha Christie” and you’ll still find her books on library shelves and reading lists today.

The original Rinehart Estate consisted of the main house, as well as two cottages, a boathouse, water tower, powerhouse, and docks. The estate stayed in the Rinehart family for several years but was eventually sold to the Stults family in the 1940s.

Larry and Jan Stults started turning the original estate into an inn and restaurant in 1944. Vacationers on the Cabbage Key got a “steal of a deal,” as rates to stay in the inn were between $15 and $20 per night during the winter season and $12 and $14 during the summer season. In today’s money, a winter stay might cost between $250 and $315 per night while a summer stay might cost between $190 and $220 per night after inflation.

Modern Cabbage Key

Modern Cabbage Key

The Stults left a lasting legacy on Cabbage Key. You’ll still find the inn and open-air restaurant the Stults helped establish nearly 80 years ago on the island.

You’ll also find the legendary Dollar Bill Bar. This unique establishment is known for being practically wallpapered from floor to ceiling with dollar bills signed and left behind by patrons over the bar’s 60-plus year history.

In addition to the unique decor, the menu at the restaurant and bar is famous as well. At least, one item on the menu is famous. Local legend has it that Jimmy Buffet wrote his famous 1978 song Cheeseburger in Paradise after indulging his “carnivorous habit” on the sandwich he referred to as “heaven on Earth with an onion slice” at the bar on Cabbage Key Island.

The open-air restaurant on Cabbage Key Island is open rain or shine, 365 days a year. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner at this unique establishment. The breakfast menu includes delicious ways to start your day such as salmon smoked right on the island. Dine on fresh shrimp straight from the Gulf of Mexico at lunch. Enjoy stone crab claws and other delicacies at dinner.

Though Cabbage Key might be best known for its inn and restaurant, you’ll find other things to enjoy on the island as well. You’ll find walking paths and nature trails spanning the 100-acre island to let you get back to nature, a small marina, and unspoiled Old Florida charm.

Does Cabbage Key Have a Beach?

Even though Cabbage Key is surrounded by water on all sides, you won’t find the white sandy beaches you might expect from a Southwest Florida island here. Cabbage Key Island does not have a beach.

However, the barrier island of Cayo Costa is just a short boat ride or kayak paddle away from Cabbage Key Island and is home to more than 9 miles of unspoiled Gulf beach.

Are Dogs Allowed on Cabbage Key?

The inn and restaurants on Cabbage Key Island welcome all kinds of guests -- except for those with four paws. Dogs and other pets are not permitted on Cabbage Key.

Looking to enjoy some island time with your furry friend? Captiva Island and Sanibel Island are dog-friendly destinations in Southwest Florida.

Can You Get to Cabbage Key by Car?

There are several ways to get to Cabbage Key, but none of them involve a car. There is no bridge or causeway connecting Cabbage Key Island to the mainland.

This means that if you want to visit Cabbage Key Island, you’ll need to board a boat or seaplane.

Things To Do on Cabbage Key FL

Spending time at the historic inn and restaurant aren’t the only things you’ll find to do on Cabbage Key Island.

Other things to do on Cabbage Key include:

  • Take a walk on one of the island’s nature trails to learn about Florida’s flora and fauna.
  • Climb to the top of the island’s original water tower and look out over the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Fish the flats and mangroves around the island for redfish, snook, sea trout, and even sharks.
  • Pack and picnic and kayak to nearby Cayo Costa to enjoy a day on the beach.
  • Find the perfect souvenir at the gift shop at the inn.

Depending on how you like to relax, you might find yourself spending a few hours or even a few days on Cabbage Key Island.

Can You Live on Cabbage Key?

If you love island life, you might consider living on Cabbage Key. However, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to get there.

Cabbage Key Island is privately owned. This means the only way to live on Cabbage Key is to take a job on the island and join the live-on staff. Depending on the season, up to 15 or 20 members of the Cabbage Key inn and restaurant staff live on the island.

There are a few private residences on the barrier island of Cayo Costa, just west of Cabbage Key.

Enjoy Authentic Florida with Jensen’s Marina™

A trip to Cabbage Key Island is just one great way to enjoy the authenticity of Southwest Florida. Another great way to soak in a true Old Florida experience is to make Jensen’s Twin Palm Marina and Cottages™ part of your next vacation.

Located on Captiva Island, Jensen’s Marina™ is a true Florida gem. What makes the marina so special? Jensen’s has been part of the Captiva Island landscape since 1977. With everything from comfortable Captiva Island vacation cottages to a full-service marina, you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy at Jensen’s Marina™.

You’ll love living on island time with the casual, laid-back vibe at Jensen’s Marina™. No matter whether you’re visiting on a spontaneous weekend getaway or a meticulously planned family vacation, you’ll find the marina and cottages to be the perfect place to spend your time on Captiva Island.

Find Jensen’s Marina™ in the heart of Captiva Island. The marina is just a few flip-flop steps away from the island’s pristine beaches and offers visitors and guests so much to do. From Jensen’s Marina™, you can:

  • Hop on a water taxi and island-hop between Captiva, Sanibel, and even Cabbage Key Island.
  • Book a fishing charter and head out to sea to reel in dinner.
  • Rent a boat or kayak and explore the waters around Pine Island Sound.
  • Kick back with a beer or hard seltzer purchased at the on-site shop.
  • Relax in a cozy vacation cottage.
  • Peruse the Jensen’s Fishing Museum.
  • Watch a magical sunset over the Gulf.
  • And much more.

Reach out to Jensen’s Twin Palm Marina™ now and get the information you need to plan a perfect Florida escape.

Jensen’s Twin Palm Marina and Cottages™

15107 Captiva Drive
Captiva, FL 33924

(833) 668-7768
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