-By Emily Benson
Islamorada sandbar is literally a beach with a twist, a twist of lemon or lime to go with the vodka martini please? There’s hardly a single person in the water without a cocktail in hand, most typically a cold beer in a cooling sleeve.
For people bored by the typical beach experience, the sandbar is a perfect getaway. Located 1/2 mile from shore, accessible only by boat, it’s best visited at low tide when the clear, jade-tinted sea comes up only to mid-calf. There are no fierce waves or murky unknown depths to navigate, only lucid shallow waters to wade through with a beer in hand as you cavort in this aquatic playground or kick back in your beach chair, half-submerged in refreshing cool water.
On certain holidays, like Memorial or Labor Day, there can be as many as 1,000 boats that pull up on the sandbar, and the party scene is akin to a tropical version of Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
My husband and I went on President’s Day weekend, a much quieter scene, but with just enough boats to feel like a parade or party. The boats ranged in size and variety from kayaks to catamarans to motorboats to modest yachts. Our kayak became a floating couch as I lay back, sun warming my skin, a benevolent wind teasing my hair, as I listened to the festive music of Harry Belafonte throbbing from the nearest party craft.
Our favorite thing about the sandbar was that it also served as an aquatic dog park. Many of the boaters brought along a dog or two or three, something you don’t normally see on a hot Florida beach–a canine’s worst nightmare of boredom and dehydration.
But on the sandbar, the dogs dashed after sticks, leaping through the shallow water with the grace of porpoises. Cool water dripping from their coats, they were giddy as can be, without the boost of a Budweiser or martini, drunk on the beauty of a perfect day.