On the west coast of Florida, far above Tampa and Busch Gardens and down a quiet and remote road sits a sleepy fishing village known as Cedar Key.
In all the years that have passed since I was first introduced to Cedar Key, this village has managed to maintain its original charm and quiet serenity along the Gulf of Mexico. Located in the middle of a 200-mile stretch along the Gulf known as the Big Bend, Cedar Key provides a quiet respite full of fresh salty air, and incredible sunrise and sunsets.
I remember driving here for the day from Gainesville with my family and enjoying the “Captain’s Seafood Platter” at one of the several waterfront restaurants. With the freshest seafood imaginable and the local specialty of Heart of Palm Salad served with a peanut ice cream dressing, Cedar Key offers the best life offers.
There are plenty of vacation rentals and small inns that you can call your home away from home, while you rent a golf cart to take you through the quiet streets. Activities are abound including fishing, boating, kayaking, and incredible birding. There are two fantastic festivals in Cedar Key that has always been a favorite of mine to attend. The Cedar Keys Arts Festival in April, and the Cedar Key Seafood Festival in October.
Having an early start in the morning, I went out to explore while my friends slept through this magical time of the day. Heading over to the beach area, I quickly discovered how full Cedar Key is of a wide variety of waterfowl. The flocks would gather and fly through the sunrise to paint the sky with their black silhouettes.
Once I reached the beach, it was as if it was Christmas morning for birders and photographers. With at least five different species of birds, and a large flock of spectacular Black Skimmers I could have spent all morning watching and photographing these birds.
In fact, while observing such incredible bird life, this Laughing Gull decided to come and check me out as well. He was probably laughing at me as I really had no clue what I was doing as my Canon 60D was brand new to me and I was trying to figure out how to work the darned thing.
These cute little buggers were dodging in and out of the surf nibbling on some small microscopic thing that I couldn’t see. But they are truly charming Sanderlings.
When wandering back through the quaint waterfront on Dock Street, Brown Pelicans were warming themselves in the early morning sun and getting ready for a new day of fishing.
Throughout the day I enjoyed additional birds such as the White Ibis, the Tricolored Heron, a White Heron, and Ring-billed Gulls with the evening ending with a perfect sunset.
My soul-filling day in this quiet little hamlet ended picture perfect. With a visit to the well-known Honeymoon Shack which had been built in 1959. It has stood the test of time and is now the home for Cormorants.