Perdido Key’s literal translation means “Lost Key,” so named by the early Spanish who discovered it in 1693. Until then, the Key was the well-kept secret of gulf coast Native Americans – Perdido Key’s first inhabitants. Bridges link Perdido Key to the Florida mainland and neighboring Alabama. Those who make the short drive across the water will agree that this “Lost” island is definitely worth discovering. We’d love for you to share your vacation or “stay-cation” with us here at Sandy Key Condominiums.
Perdido Bay is said to have once had an estimated 300 natural springs bubbling up from the sandy bottom. There were so many around the site of the Lillian bridge that when construction began, bridge engineers were appalled to see pilings sinking down below the surface, following the soft course of a natural spring. They had to devise a solution, which was building cofferdams to shore up the pilings to prevent them from sinking.
Circa 1933 Perdido Key became an island. Before then, the area was a small peninsula just to the west of Pensacola. It was crossed by a large ditch that was narrow enough to jump across, and sometimes filled with alligators. This ditch was improved and widened to become part of the Intracoastal Waterway in 1933.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) connecting Pensacola to Mobile Bay, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, was started during 1931 during the Great Depression. The digging that would connect Pensacola, Big Lagoon (also known as Grande Lagoon), Perdido Bay, and Mobile Bay was completed in 1933. Perdido Key Island is now about 16 miles (26 km) long with almost 60% of it (9.5 miles) protected in federal or state parks.
In 1978 the National Park Service completed purchase of over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land on Perdido Key from Johnson Beach to Pensacola Pass for about $8 million. For years this area was called Gulf Beach, and it evolved into being called Perdido Key. Many “old timers” still slip and call the area Gulf Beach.
Environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Perdido Key because it is one of the few remaining areas of protected wilderness in the Florida Panhandle. Miles of preserves offer opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and bird watching. Dolphin watch excursions and sailing tours are popular with tourists, as are moonlight cruises on the bay. Perdido Key’s two state parks and an expanse of National Seashore offer chances to spot gray foxes and blue herons in the wild. Local outfitters offer guided tours, and self-guided nature trails at Big Lagoon and Johnson Beach allow solitude.