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Treasure Island

A Florida hideaway invites the public in


Florida has its share of obscure hideaways, but one -- Useppa Island -- is so little known, even some state residents have never heard of it. Located off Florida's southwest coast, this tiny island is remarkably peaceful and quiet -- there are only two cars. Just a handful of people live there full-time; the rest of the quaint white clapboard houses belong to "club members" who sail over by yacht for short stays. The island's owners recently opened it to the public for the first time in decades, turning one 1912 residence into the charming Collier Inn. There are seven sunny, antique-filled rooms, and the creative American menu is filled with fresh fish and produce. The "pink promenade" (made of local sand and shells and paved in 1903) meanders past a feast of foliage, including night-blooming flowers and the tangled trunks of banyan trees. There's swimming, kayaking, croquet, tennis, and fishing. There's also a museum where you'll learn about Useppa's role as a staging area for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Hey, we told you it was top secret.

DETAILS Useppa Island, 941-283-1061 or (doubles start at $175 in winter, $135 in summer).


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