Big Pine Real Estate

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Anyone eying southern Florida for a casual and relaxed place to live might want to take a good look at Big Pine Key in Monroe County. Two-thirds of the way along the Keys from Key Largo to Key West, it's a unique tropical wilderness. If you love sunshine, sparkling blue waters, and a tropical climate, you've come to the right spot.

Living on Big Pine Key

Big Pine's population in 2000 totaled just over 5,000, the vast majority of whom were between 18 and 64 years old. There are, according to U.S. census data, about 3,300 housing units on the 18.94 square miles that make up Big Pine Key. Population density is thus somewhat heavy--272 people per square mile (state average 200, national average 79). These numbers are a bit misleading, however. The pace of life on the island is relaxed and casual and far from overcrowded.

As well as boasting the nation's only adjacent coral reef, the Florida Keys sustain more than 6,000 species of fish, invertebrates, and marine plants. Some 2,800 square nautical miles off the Keys have understandably been designated a National Marine Sanctuary. Coral etiquette and safe boating practices are critical to preserving these waters, of course. This doesn't mean, however, that they aren't enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. From marinas to fishing charters, to diving and snorkeling, to camping and hiking and kayaking, the possibilities are endless.

Big Pine's special attraction is the National Key Deer Refuge. These tiny deer, a subspecies of the familiar Virginia white-tailed deer along the East Coast, stand only 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh in at maturity from 45 to 75 pounds. They migrated, it is believed, from the mainland to the Keys thousands of years ago, and were trapped there when the Wisconsin glacier melted. They are found nowhere else in the world. Sadly, only 250 to 300 remain.

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