Little Palm Island: Just South of Miami, a Semi-deserted Isle & a No Cellphone Zone
Aug 28, 2017 05:23PM ● Published by Kevin
Photo courtesy of Little Palm Island.
Gallery: Little Palm Island - September/October 2017 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
Come on, why five? Take your cues from Little Palm Island: How about your own hot tub and fire pit, deck chairs overlooking a little beach of your own, a three-room thatched hut suite with outdoor and indoor showers? Refrigerator stocked with soft drinks, chilled champagne? Binoculars and a bird guide? Go ahead, throw in the restaurant with exquisite food.
Sure, as the boat from Little Torch Key pulls into dock at the end of a wooden pier, the beach-and-bungalow scene conjures Gilligan’s Island. Or perhaps a kinder, gentler Lost minus the plane crash and the smoke monster. But you and the rest of the small cast of your drama—meaning the couples and peace-seeking others who pay anywhere from $690 as an introductory rate during off-season to $3,190 for the most premium suite during holidays or special events—are exactly whom the people on Little Palm Island have been waiting for.
At the welcome center just off the Overseas Highway, about 130 miles south of Miami, a valet parks our car and takes our bags to the ferry (or “motor yacht,” in Little Palm lingo). We’re offered the island’s signature rum drink, the Gumby Slumber.
One of the transport boats is the Truman, an homage to President Harry S Truman and his wife who were early visitors to the island. They are conjured in spirit throughout Little Palm. Restrooms are marked “Bess” and “Harry,” and portraits of each are found in the library, which contains the island’s only television. Cell phones must be silenced and used only in private areas; if guests must, they can duck into the “Truman Outhouse” to talk. There are no texting teens; you will not hear a word from anyone under 16 years old, as children are not allowed.
The bungalows are named for birds. For your stay, your name is placed on a sliding wood sign outside.
We looked at it this way: “Regular” people go to Disney World and can easily unload the same wheelbarrow of cash. “Some couples save for five years to come here,” a spa employee told me later. And I could see why. Unlike frenetic Disney, time at Little Palm makes you feel soothed and restored and connected more deeply with your soul and your soul mate.
Now owned by Noble House Resorts, Little Palm Island first was documented by surveyor F.H. Gerdes in 1849. Its biography could be shelved easily in a library of Florida Keys characters. A Munson thought to be of the Steamship family gave it to his secretary when his wife turned up her nose; it was the setting for the tale of John F. Kennedy reporting for war as imagined in the film PT-109, and later the enclave of the Caribbean Veterinarians Education Trust. The island was nearly seized in a drug bust but spared due to an innocent partner, and it was owned at one time by wood-refinishing guru Homer Formby.
My husband kept reflecting on the fact that this island was once “given away.” While nothing is being given away now on Little Palm, it can be your own little (semi) deserted island with all the things you need—and many, many more.
Written by Dayna Harpster, a writer living in Southwest Florida.