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Local Florida Keys History

Man finds the Keys

The first humans arrived between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago inhabited the near shore area, now under 150 feet of water. Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. Ponce de Leon looking for the fountain of youth arrived in Florida in 1513 landing between St. Augustine and Jacksonville and then down to the Keys. In 1762, the British captured Havana and kept it until the Spanish traded Florida for Havana. 

When the British lost the war of independence with the United States the British gave Florida to Spain to keep it from the rebel Americans. The United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1818 for Five Million Dollars. Pirates have a rich history in the keys and a movie filmed in August of 2004 at Coconut Cove depicts the pirates culture in these waters. Settlers came and farmed the land, including Key limes and pineapple.

The wrecking trade grew in the 1800's from ship wrecks on Florida Keys reefs and shoals which made Key West a very wealthy town. In the years to follow Cuban cigar factories and the sponge trade were profitable Keys businesses

Connecting the Islands of the Keys

Henry Flagler had a dream to connect his railroad to Key West by building a series of bridges over the Keys, now called the overseas Highway. It was considered the 8th wonder of the world and took many lives of men working in a most inhospitable climate. On January 22, 1912 Mr. Flagler rode the first train from Florida City to Key West. On September 2, 1932 tragedy stuck the Keys in the "Labor Day Hurricane" the worst hurricane ever with reported wind of 200 miles an hour. Seas covered the keys reaching 18 feet and the baronet registered the lowest in history, a mere 26.35 destroying the railroad. 700 people were killed and hard times were had by all especially while in the great depression. The overseas highway began constructed and was completed on January 25, 1938 which connects the Keys with 43 bridges.

In the 1920's the shark trade flourished for there skins to be made into a very strong leather called "shagreen".

The keys was a easy place in the years to follow for drug and illegal immigrant smuggling. This has since been replaced with tourism with the outstanding fishing, diving, boating, sun-bathing along with the rich history of Authors like Hemmingway and friendly people.

Sportfishing Capitol of the World

Islamorada is known as the Sportfishing Capitol of the World" with so many fish varieties and plentiful catches. Islamorada known as the nicest part of the keys and many is frequently vests by celebrities, presidents, fortune 500 CEO's and home to many of the rich and famous.

Islamorada in resent years has added the name of "Watersports Capitol of the World with too many activities to list.

History of Coconut Cove Resort

Coconut Cove resort & Marina is located on the Island of Windley Key, the third Key as your drive South. Orriginally named Windley Key Resort it was built in the 1950's by the Hank Dohrman and Family, he also operating a charter boat, and records indicate years later had a small restaurant and dive operatotion. 

Hurricane Donna struck the Resort on September 9th, 1960 leveling three buildings that had eight units and took out all the trees. Water remained high for days. 

A series of owners held the property after the Hurricane with little change. New owners in 1984 developed plans to add rooms, the restaurant and other facilities but due to a governmental mistake in the zoning the plans were held up. The resort was closed in 1986 in deteriorating condition, development delays, legal actions and with a rumored drug busts. 


Mr. Paul E. Bates a pilot for American Airlines based out of Miami international airport found the property while jogging in 1991 many years after closure. It was in very bad shape. Covered in overgrowth with ceiling caved in and the buildings basically just cement shells, with raccoon and possums living in them. Paul went into contract to purchase the resort after two years of research and started rebuilding the resort in October of 1993.

The name was soon changed from Windley Cove Resort to Coconut Cove Resort & Marina and a new chapter began after many years of deterioration and destruction of the property.

In December of 1996 Paul's Tiki Bar Restaurant was born. The restaurant has in inside bar, outside Tiki bar with a large covered seating area right on the Atlantic ocean with breath taking views.

In 1998 1.1 acres was bought, and the building of a new administration facility was finished in June of 2003.

In June of 2004 the swimming pool, water falls, cave, Jacuzzi, with fiber optics, a zero beach entrance, water canons, ledges, all natural with lush landscaping was started with the pool due to be operational in September with added features later in the fall.


Paul is dedicated in keeping the mom and pop ecco resort with its sanding roads and meadows and he has kept the Northern property as a self designated nature preserve. Environmental preservation of the keys for the future generations is essential to the family. 

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