Islamorada 3rd Annual Sandbar Cleanup

Every weekend off the Florida Keys hundreds of boats gather for what’s known as “sandbar parties.”  It’s exactly what you think it is. Tons of boats anchor along the sandbar for the afternoon and everyone drinks, eats and swims in the clear shallow water. It’s like tailgating but with boats and without the sports so not really like it at all. People even setup chairs and umbrellas along the sandbar. It’s an extremely popular way to spend a hot summer afternoon here, you can even rent a boat for $100 for the day to go hang on the sandbar. I forgot to mention that part – the sandbars are out in the ocean reachable only by boat or very ambitious kayakers not what you normally picture close to shore.

Drunk people aren’t the most conscientious among us & people who wouldn’t normally litter get a little lax after a few beers in the sun so every year Islamorada has a day where boats and snorkelers dedicate time to cleaning up after the parties. We joined the Islamorada Beer Company for the event. Their beer “Sandbar Sunday” was named for these gatherings and it’s a great beer to bring next time you’re heading out there! What’s better than saving the environment while sipping a few craft beers. And they transport you to and from the sandbar on their island themed party barge complete with a sand floor & sound system. It was by far the best vessel out there! I’m really glad we got up yesterday to take part. After the cleanup there’s a party with a band and free craft beer! You know we don’t have good beer in Key Largo so we stayed for a few and had a great time.

islamorada beer company

The party barge, our vessel for the day!

What we found:

We found the most trash where the sandbar starts sloping toward the boat channel. Visibility wasn’t great yesterday due to the high winds & chop stirring up a lot of silt but a good haul nonetheless.

  • Beer bottles were our #1 find
  • Beer bottle tops coming in at #2
  • Beer cans coming in 3rd
  • Two pairs of sunglasses
  • A full party sized bottle of barcardi, I know that was accidentally lost! Full and intact with just a few barnacles and things growing on it.
  • An empty bottle of patron
  • A t-shirt, sandbar party got wild!
  • Part of a cell phone


Creature sightings:

The turtle grass bordering the sandbar is home to all kinds of creatures! A lot of juveniles start their lives out here in the protection of the grass and other creatures live here their whole life. This is very important to the ecosystem & a huge reason why it’s important to keep it clean. We saw a of life out there:

  • A mantis shrimp – it came all the way out of its hole before scurrying back when I got too close.
  • Juvenile smooth trunkfish – one of my favorites, I love how they blow on the bottom looking for food.
  • Juvenile cowfish – love the pattern on them
  • A few varieties of urchin & anemone
  • Hermit crabs
  • Regular crabs
  • A sea cucumber
  • Upside down jellyfish
  • And tons of tiny fish that I couldn’t identify. A school of fish about the size of my pinky nail swam by at one point.


The after party was at the Post Card Inn Tiki Bar. We’ve never been here before but we’ll definitely be back. A chill, laid back place right on the water with gorgeous views of the Atlantic and the sandbar. We had lunch at the bar & these two stopped by the marina to say hi and have a sip of water from a hose that was leaking on the dock.

manatee, post card inn, tiki bar, florida keys

Next weekend we’re planning to join the Pennekamp State Park cleanup and later this month is the next “Dive Against Debris”. I have a post coming soon about Project AWARE and Dive Against Debris so stay tuned for more on that. We love the ocean and are definitely willing to do our part to protect it and keep it clean. It’s a great way to meet like minded people too!

Have a great Sunday everyone! We’re heading out diving this afternoon. The seas are settling down after a few days of high wind and hopefully the blue water and great vis will stick around for the afternoon. Earlier this week shops were reporting 100ft, nice!

Until next time…

Warm thoughts to all!

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