Hotel Review

Little Palm Island
The only private island resort in the United States
MARIA DIEGO

Little Palm Island, the only private island resort in the United States, is newly renovated with nautical elegance reminiscent of the Ernest Hemingway era and quintessentially Floridian.

Perfect For: Boutique Hotel Lovers | Romantic Getaways | Honeymoons & Anniversaries

Little Palm Island Location: Lower Florida Keys, 28 miles north of Key West and 133 miles south of Miami International Airport

Vibe: Little Palm Island, the only private island resort in the United States, is newly renovated with nautical elegance reminiscent of the Ernest Hemingway era and quintessentially Floridian. You can arrive by car, in which case they transport guests on a small wooden vessel named Truman, another nod and step back in time to the golden age. You can arrive by mega-yacht, or at least be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one docked gleamingly in front of the island. Or you can arrive by sea-plane. No matter how you arrive, it will be in style and you’ll feel like a glamorous movie star stepping down onto your own private island resort. Little Palm Island is truly an oasis with hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

History: The five-acre island had its first inhabitant, Newton Munson, over 65 years ago who was responsible for planting an abundance of over 28 varieties of palm trees. He also built the original “Storm House” shelter to protect again hurricane-force winds. The island became known as Sheriff’s Island when it was purchased by then state senator and county sheriff, John Spottswood. A friend of the Trumans, the President and his wife would spend winters there and invite many notables as guests. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the state of Florida ran electric and water lines to the island. In 1995, Mr. Patrick Colee purchased the island and the combination of his creative vision and financial investment has made the island into what you will find there today.

Accommodations: 30 private luxury bungalows. Inspired by nature, each thatched-roof bungalow is aptly named after the island residents like Owl, Green Heron, and Ibis.

Food & Beverage: The Dining Room at Little Palm Island was recognized as Florida’s Best Hotel Dining Experience in the restaurant’s earlier days. Private dining experiences can also be set up in different locations throughout the island, including the beach to watch the sunset over the ocean, or the dock.

Wellness: SpaTerre, the signature brand of Noble House Hotels & Resorts, provides a wellness retreat within a retreat. While the bungalows dot the perimeter of Little Palm Island, the common areas make up the center. The spa is a two-story building and utilizes the cult- and personal favorite Biologique Recherche for facial treatments.

Activities: The Florida Keys have not truly been seen until you’ve experienced them from the water. Whatever might float your boat, whether it’s fishing, sailing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, Hobie cats, scuba diving or snorkeling, the point is, you’ll want to get out on the water. They have Boston Whalers that you can drive out on your own to snorkel at the reef. During our stay, another adventurous couple was going out to sky dive and back within a couple of hours, elated about their experience. Little Palm Island also offers backcountry island hopping, a day trip to Dry Tortugas by seaplane, wakeboarding, dolphin encounters and eco-tours. The gym on Little Palm Island is particularly large for a small island with only 30 rooms, and offers a locker room for changing as the resort welcomes you to stay on-island past check-out time to make the most of the day. What you won’t find are televisions, loud music, night life, or kids – and I’m not mad about that.

What  Sets  It  Apart:    Little Palm Island is literally the only private island resort in the country, so that is the biggest feature that sets this exclusive resort apart.  With only 30 villas, you could literally go a week without seeing anyone if you wish, which offers the ultimate privacy for those that want to get away from it all.

Diego  Travel  Loves:  The ease and accessibility, yet the remoteness and feeling of being a million miles away. You can fly private into Marathon, or it’s just a 2 hour drive from Miami International Airport or a short drive from Key West International Airport. It feels like you are being transported back in time, while having all the modern luxury amenities at your fingertips. 

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel: 

  • $100 resort credit

  • $50 per person daily breakfast credit

  • Upgrade at time of check-in, subject to availability

  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Insider Tip:

Within three miles of the island, you’ll find Loggerhead Key, once home to over 2000 Rhesus monkeys and Looe Key Reef, named for the ship that sank there in 1744 and has since created a world-renowned snorkeler’s haven.  

Summary of Our Stay:

Our visit to Little Palm Island was our first opportunity to break away from our children for a weekend escape after the period of crisis that we all experienced in the first quarter of 2020.  I had heard great things about the private island, but was especially excited to see the results of the complete renovation they underwent for years following the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

My parents have lived in Islamorada for nearly 15 years, which is a little over an hour north of Little Palm Island.  Our experience of the Florida Keys had been pretty limited to the Northern Keys and days exploring the ocean by boat were endless.  In a sense, my kids had a small part of their childhood in the Keys, and if you ask anyone who grows up there, the way you spend your time is out on the water.

Little Palm Island is no different.  From the moment you drive up to the lobby, you feel like you’re stepping into a time machine that transports you into a golden era of the past.  The lobby is a stand-alone building and pristinely landscaped, purposefully done to hide the space where you’ll leave your car for your journey by boat.  The Truman, the elegantly old-fashioned, yet sparkling new wooden boat whisks you away while the friendly captain and skipper outline the lay of the land for you.

I’m not sure which was more notable – the sparkling island with its stretch of sand bar peeking out from the shallow sea or the gleaming white mega-yacht stationed at the dock.  As we were greeted by a cheerful concierge hostess who showed us around the island, she casually explained that mega-yachts and celebrities are the norm, not the exception.  The island, after all, is the only private island resort in the entire country.  And now more than ever with travel restrictions limiting people’s ability to travel, those who can afford the luxury of exclusivity are looking for places such as Little Palm Island.

The interior of the island houses all the communal amenities like the gorgeous 2 story spa, an impressive fitness center, and a boutique whose merchandise rivaled the chicest boutique in St. Barths.  Seriously, I need a return trip just to shop!  The perimeter of the island is reserved for the 30 bungalows, each with an idyllic view of the sea and sunrise or sunset.

Just as we were finishing up with our guided tour, a sea plane landed at the special dock made just for sea planes that greets passengers coming in from all over South Florida.  So whether you arrive by private plane, private yacht, or by car, you are sure to have a VIP welcome here on the island.  With the guided tour over, we didn’t waste any time and got out on the water by stand up paddle board.  While the ocean was like glass, the current was extremely strong, so we didn’t get very far – but it made for a great photo op!

Dinner was fresh yellowtail caught that day with a side of gorgeous sunset views.  After dinner we walked the beach lined with tiki torches and found two private Adirondack chairs on the dock to talk until the sun went down.  It was the first time in months that we had uninterrupted conversation where we could dream of where we’ll travel to next.  This seems to be a favorite conversation topic whenever we are on vacation.  The life of a travel advisor!

Parting was truly such sweet sorrow from Little Palm Island and I would have been happy staying an extra night or two.  From reconnecting with my husband to finishing the book that had been collecting dust on my nightstand for the last two months, I was in heaven.  Chatting with the friendly people at the pool – from a distance of course! – was also a highlight as I love meeting people from all over the world.

When you plan your trip, reach out to us and we will take care of all the details while getting you all the added amenities.


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