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Island 101
Surviving on Perdido Key requires relaxing and going with the flow

Published: Sep/Oct 2000

Surviving on an island is receiving a lot of attention, thanks to network television. But there’s an island in Florida where people have been surviving for centuries–and doing it with much more panache.

Perdido Key, which means "lost island" in Spanish, is 10 miles west of Pensacola, Fla. For families or couples looking for a quiet, restful beach getaway, this is the place. Perdido Key is a barrier island–16 miles long, one-half mile wide–with 61 percent of its landmass set aside for parks and preserves. White sandy beaches are outstanding, perfect for shell or sand dollar hunting. Nature enthusiasts will love exploring Gulf Islands National Seashore, Johnson Beach, Big Lagoon State Recreation Area or Perdido Key State Recreation Park, a habitat for shore birds and coastal animals such as endangered giant loggerhead turtles.

Folks on the island seem to understand the natural beauty, flora and fauna are the ticket to tourism here. So they protect it. Even the island’s biggest development, Lost Key Plantation, has included The Audubon Signature Cooperative Sanctuary Program in its planning. Golfers will want to try the beautiful Lost Key Golf Club, a course designed by Arnold Palmer that opened in 1997. Development plans for the resort include a beach club, condos, hotels, shopping and entertainment.

Another new development on the island is the Purple Parrot Island Resort, which will feature 114 candy-colored, Caribbean-styled villas, cottages or condos.

After you’ve played in the gulf and explored nature’s bounty on the island, check out Colours on the Key, a cute shopping/dining area. One of the shops, Archipelago Imports Ltd., features handcrafted Indonesian furniture and accessories. After browsing through the collection, one understands why owners Gin and Marcy Arnold call themselves "purveyors of the rare and unusual."

Dining possibilities on Perdido Key include the Pelican’s Perch Seafood Grille or, if you’d like waterfront dining, the Perdido Key Oyster Bar.

And everyone should take a ride on the Yellow Crab Water Taxi, even if you’ve nowhere in particular to go. There’s also an island trolley to shuttle you here and there on land.

For more information, contact the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-328-0107 or visit online at

– Deborah Reinhardt

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