The original Florida National High Adventure Sea Base location, on Lower Matecumbe in Islamorada (mile marker 73.8) on the Overseas Highway began as a fishing camp after the highway opened in 1938. It was located so tourists could stay and fish while avoiding paying the toll to cross the Channel Two Bridge. In the early 1950’s, the Tollgate Inn was built and it featured 10 deluxe rooms, a honeymoon suite, a convenience store/bait shop, a lounge and first class restaurant. One of the great features of this facility was a marina with a 300 foot long dock that could facilitate even the largest fishing and sailing vessels. By the 1970’s, the Tollgate Inn had seen better days, but little did anyone know that the best days of this facility were yet to come! The Boy Scouts of America purchased the Tollgate Inn complex in 1979 with a grant from the Fleischmann Foundation and the Florida Gateway to High Adventure had a new home and a new name – the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base. Since 1980, the BSA has added participant dorms housing over 200 Scouts and leaders, scuba pools, conference/staff housing, program facilities and an administration building, making this facility a showplace of Scouting!
The elevated dormitories look out across Florida Bay to one of the many bridges that separate the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. Our harbor has a 300 foot pier for the sailing vessels, as well as many smaller docks for our fleet of power boats. Scuba instruction is offered in a specially built diving pool complete with an underwater viewing port. The Ship’s Store sells many items that you may have forgotten as well as items to take home to help you remember your adventure.
Just a few miles offshore, an extensive underwater living coral reef forms a barrier protecting the keys. Here, among pillars of living coral, you come face to face with thousands of multi-hued tropical fish in water so clear that while swimming, you have the sensation of floating in mid air. The area abounds with legends and tales of unequaled adventure. Even though the pirates and wreckers have been gone from this area for a long time, to this day the lure of discovering a buried treasure burns in the hearts of true keys adventurers.