When you have little kids, sometimes you just need to get away—without them. And that was just what my husband and I had in mind late this fall. We thought a long weekend would be perfect. Preferably an island in the South Pacific. Tahiti? Yes! Of course, absolutely no one (that I’m aware of) goes to Tahiti from the United States for a long weekend. You’d get there just in time for a mai tai and have to turn around and come home. But still, that was the vibe we were going for. And luckily we found it: in Florida.
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is a six-acre island about a half-hour’s drive from Key West. You can fly directly into Key West, drive to Little Torch Key and take a motor boat (The Truman, a lovely wooden boat named after one of the island’s previous visitors) to this private island getaway. Or you can drive down from Miami and enjoy the view from the Overseas Highway, with its many long bridges stretching out over the water, one of them—just beyond Marathon—that’s seven miles long. When you disembark from the boat at Little Palm, you’re greeted by a smiling server handing out Gumby Slumber rum drinks. Yeah, that’s the kind of welcome I like!
Another transportation option: You can cut right to the chase and charter a seaplane from Key West Seaplanes. That’s what we did, thanks to the planners at Little Palm, and then we sat back and relaxed, had some cocktails, got some sun and did some major decompressing. A six-acre island is a small island, which means there’s one beach (that’s quite shallow for swimming, but perfectly suitable for the kayaks and paddleboards available for anyone to use) and one restaurant, though you can eat inside, on the terrace or right on the beach, where tiny key deer wander up to your table and sometimes try to steal your bread. And even though there’s only one restaurant, the menu changes daily, and the food is good. Really good. We also opted to have lunch by the pool one day, and two out of our three mornings we had breakfast brought to our suite—so there was some variety (but if you’re someone who really needs to get out and explore, this may not be the spot for you).
Back to those thatched-roof bungalow suites. There are only 30 of them, well decorated in an island chic/Tommy Bahama/Ralph Lauren style, with claw-foot tubs and indoor and outdoor showers. Ours also featured a hot tub on the deck overlooking the channel that runs between Little Palm and the next island over. And no TVs or cell-phone talking in public areas! Sign me up.
The resort has placed hammocks all over the place in public areas, along with loungers on the various docks around the property. Take advantage of the Noble Adventure Package, as we did, and you’ll have plenty of activities set up for you as well. We went snorkeling at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary with a couple from North Carolina one day, and the next we had an over-the-top picnic aboard Captain Willie’s catamaran yacht, the Lilyanna. I had a marvelous private yoga session, and we enjoyed a relaxing Balinese couples massage in the resort’s massage hut.
Writing this, a couple of months later (hey, I’ve been busy!), even I am jealous of myself. Little Palm may not have the stilted bungalows perched over the South Pacific, but I think it’s about as close as you can come in the United States. Of course, there’s a price to pay for all this luxe relaxation, but if you can afford it, I’m going to go out on a pier and predict you won’t regret it.
Photos by Sarah Elbert.