If you’re looking for fancy, you won’t find it here. But, if you’re on a mission to spend as little as possible and get in the water to explore one of the prettiest reefs in the Keys, this "resort" (a.k.a. an older motel on a canal) is the answer to your prayers.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Live music is rockin’ in the Tiki Bar until 11 p.m. And, yes, you can hear it in your room. One more little annoyance is that Tiki Bar patrons park wherever they can, including right in front of your unit. To avoid parking in Never Never Land, arrive before dark and stay parked, especially on weekends.
Rest easy, because these are the types of rooms that your kids or pets can’t do damage to. They’re basic, albeit spacious, with older furniture (think rattan headboards and a simple table and chairs), tiled floors, and unframed artwork. Each room does have a mini fridge, topped with a microwave, topped with a coffee maker. It’s the trifecta of kitchen basics.
Get a canal view room and you can enjoy a nice outside sitting area, where you can watch the boats go by.
Did we say Plain Jane already? One great thing is the water pressure, just bring your own hair dryer and lotions.
Check-in/out takes place in their Dive Shop. Just step up to the counter and they'll take care of you.
It’s basic, like the rest of the surroundings but it does have a few picnic-style tables and several loungers. Since most guests are out diving, it’s usually not crowded.
Although the food at the Tiki Hut gets mixed reviews, most agree that the fish dip and conch fritters are good and the grilled Mahi is fresh.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Service can be slow so don’t be in a hurry. Locals love Taco Tuesdays ($1), Raw Bar Wednesdays, and the daily happy hour from 3pm-6:30pm.
If you plan on exploring, you’ll want your own car. If you don’t want to drive, there are currently three taxi companies in close-by Big Pine Key, including Big Pine Taxi Service. Lyft and Uber may be available.
You’re in luck. One of the best restaurants in all of the Keys, The Square Grouper, is 4.5 miles south (6-minute drive). Get the cracked conch appetizer with wasabi drizzle--you can thank us later. Satisfy your craving for really good pizza at the Sugarloaf Lodge (13-minute drive). It used to be a sit-down restaurant, but now it’s take-out only. BoonDocks Grille & Draft House is the closest option (2-minute drive) and boasts a big menu, entertainment, and even mini golf.
This area of the Keys is sparse, but if you want to venture, there is a Tiki bar on the bay at Sugarloaf Lodge (13-minute drive) with live music. My New Joint (6-minute drive), atop the Square Grouper (got to love those names) is a beatnik-style hangout with great munchies.
WHY WE LIKE IT
With quick access to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, and inexpensive rates even in season, Looe Key Resort & Dive Center is a funky little place where you can kick back with the locals and sleep in a comfy bed. Hop on one of their dive boats, bring your own, or rent a boat and you can be face-to-face with 150 types of colorful fish and amazing coral formations in only 30 minutes. They even do night dives by request on Fridays.
Looe Key Resort won’t make everyone happy, but if you care more about saving money and concentrating on the big picture of underwater exploring, this could become your new go-to for your annual dive trip.