Key Haven is an island 1 mile east of Key West, considered the Lower Florida Keys, and was formerly known as Raccoon Key. The development of this single-family residential community began in the late 1950s by Kirby McLain. Arthur Lujan later became the primary developer finishing out the middle and back sections. Key Haven was built by the dredge and fill method, reclaiming shallow bay bottom to create residential lots on boating canals. In 1964 the lots were being offered for $3,000.
In 1972 there was a big jump in prices as the State of Florida outlawed any further dredge and fill development. Today the few lots that remain for sale sell for far more than the original $3,000.
Key Haven is one of Key West's best communities for raising a family, quiet and away from the nightlife. Many Key West professionals living and working in the community choose to make this their home. The majority of homes are waterfront and, because this community is Gulf-side, have the sunset view. Homes are mostly 2-4 bedrooms and have easy access to oceanside by boat under the Cow Key Bridge. Key Haven is only minutes away from Key West but offers a unique opportunity for single-family homeownership on waterfront lots away from the hustle and bustle.
Currently there are plans for the last undeveloped area closest to US 1, on Key Haven. There will be a total of 43 luxury single-family Key West-style homes built. In addition, 10,000 square feet will be set aside for commercial development. The Lower Florida Keys will take full advantage of this commercial area which will sit behind the gas station on US 1. Blending well with the existing 475 residential homes on Key Haven, the Key Haven Civic Association endorses this development, and I'm sure many of these homes will be purchased by residents of the Key West community.
Big Coppitt Key lies 10 miles east of Key West in between Rockland Key to the West and the high ended gated community of Shark Key to the east. The key is an irregular shape, approximately 1 ½ miles long by ½ mile wide. Big Coppitt sits primarily on the Gulf side of US 1 and comprises residential neighborhoods aside from some commercial establishments along US 1. There are a couple of gas station/convenience stores and a family-style casual restaurant named Bobalu's. There are two churches and the Southern Key Cemetery. Being on the Gulf side, there is excellent boating access to the Back Country, a favorite recreational area with beaches, sand bars and uninhabited islands.
Real estate here is less expensive than in Key West and is a popular area not only for young families but also military personnel - not being far from Boca Chica Naval Air Station.
Sugarloaf Key lies in between Saddle Bunch and Cudjoe Keys. It consists of Lower and Upper Sugarloaf, both areas being primarily residential. Lower Sugarloaf and contains the neighborhoods of South Point and Sugarloaf Shores. The majority of these homes have water access. Sugarloaf Lodge, Marina and Sky Dive are a multi generational family owned enterprises in this area.
Upper Sugarloaf is home to Sugarloaf School, a pre-K to 8th grade Monroe County School.
The two main attractions in Sugarloaf Key are the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge and the Perky Bat Tower.
The tower was built in 1929 by Richter Clyde Perky, a fish lodge owner, to control the mosquito problem in the Lower Keys. However, when the bats were put in, they supposedly flew away, never to return.
Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 as a haven for great white herons, migratory birds, and other wildlife. The refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and consists of almost 200,000 acres of open water and islands that are north of the Keys from Marathon to Key West. This vast wilderness area, known locally as the "backcountry," provides critical nesting, feeding, and resting areas for more than 250 species of birds.
The KOA campground is also a popular attraction, as it offers one of the few campgrounds near Key West. Accommodations include RV and tent sites plus newly built vacation suites.
Sugarloaf gets its name as it was once a Pineapple Plantation and grew a sweet white pineapple from Hawaii known as the “Sugarloaf.”
Cudjoe Key lies 23 miles from Key West and is 5.24 square miles in area. 1,555 people live there.
There are two theories regarding the origin of its name. One is the Joewood Tree that is indigenous which is called Cudjoewood in the Bahamas. The other which seems more likely is that it was named after a fugitive slave or free Negro who lived on the key prior to 1849, as “Cudjoe" is a West African name.
Approaching Cudjoe Key, you will see a white blimp in the sky. The blimp is called a radar aerostat and is permanently attached by a cable which is on a site established by the Air Force in 1959 to track missiles. Currently, the blimp is used to interdict drug smugglers.
Cudjoe Key is pretty laid back, with few commercial establishments. There are a couple of good restaurants; one is the Square Grouper and Broil, both located on US 1.
Cudjoe Key is a great place to live if you love warm weather, boating, fishing, and the ocean.