Behind the Scenes of BLOODLINE in Islamorada

“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.”

In 2014, Islamorada was abuzz when we first heard that our hometown was going to be the setting for a new Netflix series. At first unnamed, the series was described as “a dramatic thriller about a local Keys family with a dark secret” – so most of us assumed it was just going to be a documentary about life down here in the 80’s.

Nope, it was fiction. But what fiction it was.

Bloodline, as the series was soon formally named, was a blast. The cast and crew were phenomenal guests here on our little island home, and half the town came out to watch the premier of the first episode – shown outdoors at Founders Park.

Since that first episode, we’ve had tourists come from all over, wandering around town in search of a glimpse of some of the more famous locations in the series.

So, we took some pictures and put together the notes below to make it a little bit easier.

And if you’re interested in more detailed descriptions of local Bloodline sites in the Upper Keys, local historian Brad Bertelli wrote this book, A Local’s Guide to Bloodline: 50 Famous Film Locations In The Florida Keys.

And you can watch the entire Bloodline series on Netflix here

On with the guide.


Alabama Jack’s 58000 Card Sound Rd.

It’s at this bar along a mangrove-lined creek in Episode 1 that Danny complains about the week-old grouper sandwich he is served.

When there’s not a film crew present, Alabama Jack’s is the lone stopping point on Card Sound Road, a two-lane highway that is an alternative route between the Keys and the mainland (US 1 is the primary route). Customers go for the house specialty, conch fritters, for the views, and to soak up the unspoiled Old Florida feel.

Interesting tidbits: Open since 1947, Alabama Jack’s bills itself as “Downtown Card Sound.” These days though, there’s little left of the old fishing village that sits on the north side of the Card Sound Bridge, halfway between Homestead and Key Largo.

If you can, go to Alabama Jacks while the band is playing on a Sunday afternoon. Even if you don’t dance yourself, it is fun to watch the floor fill with western-outfitted ladies from Homestead, some of whom have been making the same Sunday sojourn for decades.

Jewfish Creek Bridge

Jewfish Creek Bridge – Mile Markers 108 to 106.5

At 65-feet-high, this 1.5-mile long bridge provides a spectacular entryway to the Florida Keys from the South Florida mainland. From its top, motorists have views of adjacent Florida Bay and Barnes Sound, as well as of the mangrove shorelines of the southern Everglades.

On Bloodline, however, nefarious things took shape around Jewfish Creek Bridge. It was beneath the bridge during Episode 4 that the second girl from the torched smuggling boat washed ashore. It was also under this bridge in Episode 10 that Rafi Quintana, the deputy of local drug boss Wayne Lowry, told Danny about blowing up that boat at Lowry’s command.

Interesting tidbit: Jewfish Creek bridge crosses over narrow Jewfish Creek as well as over the half-mile wide Lake Surprise. The name of the jewfish, a large Atlantic grouper, was formally change in 2001 to Goliath grouper in an effort at cultural sensitivity. Still, the state of Florida kept the name of the bridge in 2008 when it replaced a former drawbridge with today’s much more formidable structure.


Caribbean Club – Mile Marker 104, bayside

This bayfront bar proudly touts that the 1948 Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film “Key Largo” was filmed there. Evidence suggests that the boast is likely untrue, though there is reason to believe that director John Huston drew inspiration from the Caribbean Club during a pre-production visit to the Upper Keys.

In either case, the Caribbean Club’s association with “Key Largo” is a draw for tourists. Meanwhile, locals know it as the place to go in Key Largo between the hours of midnight and 4 am.

The Caribbean Club appeared on Bloodline in Episode 8, serving as the sight of a meeting between Danny, his friend Eric O’Bannon and the drug smuggler Rafi Quintana. Just as in that scene, the bar draws a broad cross-section of patrons, from hardened Keys drinkers to kayakers stopping in for a sunset beer, to partying visitors.

Interesting tidbits: The Caribbean Club was built in 1938 by Carl Fisher, a real estate magnate best known for his promotion of Miami Beach during its infancy a decade earlier.

The building was originally two-stories high. During the 1940s it was a small guest house and casino, in addition to a bar. A fire ravaged the structure in 1955, after which the Caribbean Club was rebuilt in its present single-story configuration.

Go to the Caribbean Club on Tuesday evenings for Key Largo’s most lively trivia contest.

Christ of the Deep Statue

Christ of the Deep Statue – offshore Key Largo, oceanside

This iconic underwater statue made its Bloodline appearance in Episode 3, when Danny, now working for the Rayburn House, took a group of happy guests on a snorkel trip.

The nine-foot bronze statue, which weighs 20,000 pounds, sits in 25 feet of water within the boundary of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Interest tidbits:

In real life, snorkelers and divers would do much better to access Christ of the Deep from a Key Largo dive concession than from Islamorada. An especially popular launching point is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the boundaries of which reach almost to the statue.

Christ of the Deep was placed off Key Largo in 1965. It was cast in Italy and shipped via boat to Chicago, before eventually reaching its permanent home in the Upper Keys.


Murray E Nelson Government & Cultural Center – Mile Marker 102, bayside

In Bloodline, this bayfront complex is presented as the Plantation Key Government Center. In real life, however, the Nelson center is 12 miles north of Plantation Key, near central Key Largo.

Among a handful of scenes filmed here is the one in Episode 6 in which Meg had a chance encounter with Alec, her clandestine lover whom she had by then harshly spurned.

Interesting tidbit: The Nelson Center’s small boat dock serves as a dinghy launching point for a community of live-aboard boaters whose vessels are moored in Tarpon Basin, just offshore. It’s a situation that doesn’t sit well with one local county commissioner, who has portrayed the live-aboarders as foul mouthed and offensive to tourists – or, as we call them in the Keys – sailors. Thus far though, fellow commissioners have blocked any efforts to close off the launch to the live-aboarders.


Jacobs Aquatic Center – 320 Laguna Ave, off Mile Marker 99.6, oceanside

This Olympic-sized swimming pool served as a pleasant meeting site for Danny and Wayne Lowry during episode 10. Lowry, the human trafficker and drug smuggler, even waxed slightly sentimental about fatherhood.

The public pool is located within Key Largo Community Park, which also has baseball diamonds, tennis courts, a beach volleyball court, a playground and more. Children enjoy the Jacobs Aquatic Center play pool, complete with a small water slide.

Interesting tidbit: Each December, college and university swim teams descend upon Jacobs Aquatic Center for training in the winter sun. The season is highlighted by the Orange Bowl Classic, a college swim meet held annually in late December.


Sunrise Cuban Cafe & Market – Mile Marker 91.8, oceanside

In Episode 6, Meg meets with former Rayburn House worker Carlos at this popular Cuban restaurant in Tavernier to discuss his robbery and assault case. Later in the episode, John visits Sunrise Cuban Cafe in order to find and interview a counter girl there about the migrant smuggling ring.

One of the most popular Cuban restaurants in the Upper Keys, Sunrise lives up to its name by opening daily at 5 am. It stays open until 9 in the evening.

Interesting tidbit: As was depicted in Bloodline, Sunrise and many other authentic South Florida Cuban cafes have walk-up carryout windows that are popular with people ordering cafecito, a strong and sweet Cuban-style espresso that is served in a shot-sized cup.


Law Offices of Hershoff, Lupino & Yagel – Mile Marker 90.1, oceanside

This diverse civil and criminal law practice is one of the Upper Keys’ most prominent. It also was the site in Episode 3 of Meg’s office, where she seemed less than appreciative to find a roomful of flowers from well-wishers expressing concern about her dad Robert’s stroke.

Interesting tidbit: Specifically, that scene was filmed in the office of civil attorney Robert Stober, Islamorada’s champion homemade boat maker. Stober recently won a local competition on a single passenger vessel that he made from wood planks and sealed with a tarp. He calls the boat the “Tarp-On”


Post Net – Mile Marker 88, oceanside

On Bloodline, this shipping depot was named Post N Mail. It’s where Danny went on several occasions to mail envelopes filled with the cash he made from drug smuggling to his apartment in Miami.

Go there while you’re in town for copying, printing, graphic design and shipping. Then stop by the popular M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom in the same Plaza 88 for the housemade brisket sandwich topped with Gouda cheese. I’m guessing that’s what Danny did.


Marker 88 – Mile Marker 88, bayside

This outdoor seafood restaurant is the place to go if you want to see the Rayburn Pier. The ironic final episode pier dedication scene, in which Sally spoke about how blessed she had been in her family life even as her family descended into nightmarish chaos, was filmed on the pier that juts out from the Marker 88 beach.

Also impactful was the scene in Episode 4 in which Robert offered to pay Danny to leave town. He made that offer while sitting at one of Marker 88’s cozy bayfront cabana tables. Eat at one on a comfortable winter afternoon to make you really feel bad for those schleps who are working up north.

Interesting tidbit: If you enjoy your meal at Marker 88, you might want to try eating at one of the three other Upper Keys restaurants that are owned by Key Largo’s Stoky family. Sundowners, another waterside seafood restaurant, is located at mile marker 103.9 along Blackwater Sound in Key Largo. It sits next door to Senor Frijoles, a Tex-Mex restaurant. Ballyhoo’s, at mile marker 97.8 in the median of the Overseas Highway, is known for its all-you-can-eat crab offerings.

Marlin Gas Station

Marlin Gas Station – Mile Marker 88.6, oceanside

The drug drop that Danny’s errand boy Carlos used in Episode 9 is this Plantation Key gas station. The Marlin is popular with Islamorada locals because it typically has some of the cheapest fuel in town.


Founders Park – Mile Marker 87, bayside

In Episode 4, the Rayburn family, happy that Robert has recovered from his stroke, attend a baseball game of John’s son Ben at this village of Islamorada community park. Then, in Episode 8, Marco proposes to Meg at a party held on the Founders Park beach.

In addition to baseball diamonds and a small beach, Founders Park has soccer fields, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts, a basketball court, a golf driving net and a marina. Avoid weekends and especially holidays, when entry fees for out-of-towners are steep

Interesting tidbits: In Bloodline, Ben played for the Jaguars. In real life, the local high school is called the Coral Shores Hurricanes. A Coral Shores Hurricanes sign is actually shown in the scene.

The Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina, which sits within Founders Park, was once a reputed mob hangout. Famed mob financier Meyer Lansky owned the marina during the 1950s, according to two biographies of Lansky.


The Oceanview Pub & Inn – Mile Marker 84.5, bayside

Toward the end of Episode 1, Danny does coke with Eric O’Bannon here, then is forced to listen to O’Bannon repeatedly tell him that the Rayburns are the enemy. Danny eventually gets fed up, flips a table and restrains himself from punching O’Bannon.

In real life, the OV, as locals call it, is one of the most popular watering holes in Islamorada.

The bar, restaurant and small motel is owned by Gary Dunn, who was a tackle on the 1979 and 1980 Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers teams and a stalwart on the famed Steel Curtain defense.

Interesting tidbits: The Oceanview’s most popular food item is its mini hamburgers, called kicker burgers. Try them on a Wednesday when the bar hosts its weekly flip night, in which patrons flip coins for free drinks.

The scene in Episode 3 in which Meg and Kevin talk about Robert’s will as they walk down a boardwalk was also filmed on the Oceanview property. The boardwalk was built over what in the 1970s was a foot path through the mangroves to a clandestine bayfront drug drop. It was known as Capt. Larry’s Trail.


Whistle Stop Bar & Grill – Mile Marker 82.7, oceanside

This quintessential Keys dive bar made several appearances in Bloodline, including notably in Episode 6, when a drunk and high Danny got beaten up after mocking a much larger man for ordering a foofy drink. The Whistle Stop was also where Kevin, depressed about his split with Belle in Episode 5, removes his ring and repeatedly declares, “I’m free.”

Interesting tidbits: Officially, Islamorada promotes itself as “The Sportfishing Capital of the World.” But in jokes, some people call like to call it a drinking town with a fishing problem. Nevertheless, late night bar options are quite limited in Islamorada, where much of the drinking is done at happy hour. The Whistle Stop, which is open daily until 3 am, is an exception to that rule. Go on Tuesdays though Thursdays for the 10 to midnight happy hour. The Whistle Stop is also the lone Upper Keys public house to have a ping pong table.


Mangrove Mike’s Cafe – mile marker 82.2, bayside

During the diner scene in Episode 5, Danny sends his eggs back, complaining that they are overcooked, then abruptly leaves with his lady friend Chelsea O’Bannon after spotting the haunting presence of Detective Lenny Potts.

In real life, the eggs at Mangrove Mike’s where the scene was filmed, are very good – at least judging by how many local patrons the restaurant has. Mangrove Mike’s is open daily from 6 am to 2 pm For lunch, try the signature hot roast beef and gravy. It’s a bargain at $8.99.

Interesting tidbits: Mangrove Mike’s is owned by Islamorada Mayor Mike Forster. His landlord, Deb Gillis, is also on the Village Council. In Islamorada, where it feels like everyone knows everyone, and where local politics is often a contact sport, Mangrove Mike’s has long been the go-to spot to hear the latest news and gossip.

The exterior of Mangrove Mike’s also appears on Bloodline. In Episode 5 it’s where Alec is walking as Meg tells him over the phone never to call her again. An 18-foot-long Great White Shark model sits in front of the restaurant.


Coral Bay Marina – 601 Mastic Street, Mile Marker 82, bayside

Of all the businesses in the Upper Keys, only the Moorings Village, the setting of the Rayburn House, played a bigger role in the first season of Bloodline than this marina and boatyard near downtown Islamorada.

Known on the show as Indian Key Channel Marina, Coral Bay was the site of Kevin’s marine repair shop and it was the place where he lived during his estrangement with wife Belle.

Yachters and live-aboard boaters like Coral Bay for its more than 30 wet slips, its full-service repair shop and for its easy access to shopping, restaurants, and of course, bars.


Tackle Center of Islamorada – Mile Marker – 81.9, bayside.

This tackle shop, most easily recognized by the large mounted marlin above its doorway, made several appearances on Bloodline as drug smuggler Wayne Lowry’s legitimate front business.

Along with rods and tackle, the shop sells live shrimp and crabs, fresh ballyhoo and frozen bait. Best of all, it opens at 5:30 each morning.

The Moorings Village & Spa

The Moorings Village & Spa – 123 Beach Road, mile marker 81.6, oceanside.

Like it’s portrayal on the series, the real life version of the Rayburn House is a lush and exclusive resort property.

The 18 Moorings cottages weave their way through hundreds of coconut palms and make their way along the 1,100-foot beach where so much Rayburn family drama has played out.

Guests enjoy lots of privacy as they lounge on the wrap-around porches of the one- two- and three-bedroom cottages, each of which are spaced an acre apart. But the luxury doesn’t come cheap. Even during the sultry summer season, cottages typically start at somewhere between $359 and $439 per night.

Interesting tidbits: The Moorings is the brainchild of Hubert Baudoin, a Frenchman who grew up in the west African nation of the Ivory Coast, where his father was a coffee and cocoa bean exporter. Baudoin spotted the property during a windsurfing trip to Islamorada in 1988.

Unlike the Rayburn House on “Bloodline,” The Moorings beach isn’t entirely private. Splitting the separate properties that make up the resort is Beach Road, a 30-foot wide public right-of-way that extends all the way to the water. To discourage the public from making use of that section of sand, the resort places boulders across the right-of-way as it hits the beach. The strategy has occasionally drawn condemnation from local authorities.

The light blue house that served as Rayburn family home is the largest of the 18 guest cottages at the Moorings. It costs $2,500 a night, but with three bedrooms and 6,500 square feet, easily sleeps six.


Morada Bay and Pierre’s – Mile Marker 81.6, bayside

In Episode 6, Danny shares his cocaine in the bathroom of a beachfront bar with a random young woman and her boyfriend, then grinds with the woman on the sandy dance floor.

In its daily incarnation, the Morada Bay Beach Cafe is a casual but elegant restaurant focusing on seafood served in a combination of Caribbean and American preparations. The cafe is probably most popular for its tables on the sand and for the view it provides of sunsets over Florida Bay.

Interesting tidbits: Morada Bay’s monthly full moon parties are among the biggest see-and-be-seen events in the Upper Keys. Bonfires, DJs, bands, Brazilian dancers, face painters and plenty of libations are just some of the draws to these events, which linger deep into the night.

The French fusion restaurant Pierre’s, which sits in the plantation-style house on the north edge of the Morada Bay complex, offers the most upscale, and pricey, dining experience in the Upper Keys. It too made an appearance on Bloodline, in Episode 13, when John made his pitch to become Monroe County Sheriff.

Both the Morada Bay Beach Cafe and Pierre’s are owned by Hubert Baudoin, the same man who owns the Moorings Village & Spa, where the fictional Rayburn House is set.


Green Turtle Inn – Mile Marker 81.2, oceanside

It was at this restaurant and bar in Episode 10 that Meg told Marco of her indiscretions prior to their engagement.

A refined eatery by Keys standards, (its website even says that tank tops aren’t allowed during dinner) the Green Turtle is perhaps best known for its 1940s-era sign, which proclaims it to be Sid & Roxie’s Green Turtle Inn, after the restaurant’s original owners.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Green Turtle serves a range of American-bistro fare, including several steak and chop dishes, as well as seafood.

Interesting tidbits: The Green Turtle Inn originally occupied a 1928 building constructed of the sturdy, and now imperiled, Dade County Pine. Though the building was one of a just a few in Islamorada to survive the massive Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, it was badly decayed by the mid 2000s. The present owners, who include billionaire Rich Products owner Bob Rich, leveled the property and completed the current Green Turtle building in 2007. They kept the famous sign, however.

For many years, green turtles were the featured menu item of the restaurant. Original owners Sid and Roxie Siderious even kept a small turtle pen and processing plant just across the Overseas Highway.

Florida placed heavy restrictions on processing the now endangered turtles in 1971. Then, in 1978, all importation of green turtle meat was banned, though the Green Turtle didn’t sell the last of its frozen meat until 1980. These days, the restaurant still serves turtle chowder, but the meat comes from farm-grown snapper turtles.


oo-tray – Mile Marker 80.9, oceanside

Kevin found Danny’s distinctive truck parked in the lot of this unusual gastropub during a frantic Episode 12 search. To his disappointment, Danny wasn’t in it, however.

Open for about a year, oo-tray has the most extensive bourbon menu in the Upper Keys. It’s distinctive menu features six fish preparations and quirkier offerings, such as french toast flavored with frozen, grated foie gras.

Interesting tidbit: The name oo-tray is a play on the French “outre,” which means highly unconventional, eccentric or bizarre.


Indian Key Historic State Park – Bayside island, just off Mile Marker 79

It was on the edge of this island in Episode 13 that John, up to some really bad deeds, set fire to a boat, then leaped into the water as it exploded.

In real life, things on Indian Key are usually a bit more tranquil. The 9-acre island is reachable only by a brief boat ride from the nearby Robbie’s Marina, or by a 15-minute paddle from the adjacent Tea Table Fill. Once there, visitors can stroll around the island, where the remains of an 1830s town can still be seen. They can also climb a three-story tower to take in the surrounding view, or put on their masks and fins and snorkel along the island’s edge.

Interesting tidbits: Indian Key was a thriving town in the 1830s, when a merchant named Jacob Houseman used it as the hub for his salvaging operation for ships that wrecked on the surrounding reefs. The town never recovered from an 1840 Seminole Indian attack, in which they burned all but one of its buildings and killed an estimated seven people.

Despite its diminutive size, Indian Key was the first Dade County seat. Dade is now the home of Miami, though Indian Key has since become part of Monroe County.


Robbie’s Marina – Mile Marker 77.5, bayside

This bustling marina and roadside attraction served as the launching point for John’s frantic water search for daughter Jane in Episode 11. It was also here that Danny and Eric lounged and smoked a joint on the boat docks in Episode 1.

When it isn’t closed to make way for film crews, Robbie’s is among the most visited spots in all of Islamorada. Among the marina’s diversions are several craft and artisan shops, a party boat that offers affordable offshore fishing, a snorkel boat, kayak rentals and a dockside restaurant.

However, Robbie’s is best known for its feed the tarpon dock. Entry to the dock costs just $1 and a bucket of bait fish will set you back another $3. If you’re lucky, a 100 pound tarpon will pull the fish right out of your hand.

Interesting tidbits: Robbie’s serves as the launching point to Indian Key Historic State Park and Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. Both can be reached either via kayak or a tour boat service. The larger of the two islands, Lignumvitae Key, houses the historic Matheson House, which was built in 1919. The island is named for the ligumvitae tree, which is prized for its exceptionally durable wood.


Caloosa Cove and the Safari Lounge – Mile Marker 73.8, oceanside

It was at the Caloosa Cove marina in Episode 8 that the father of one of the girls who was burned alive on the smuggler’s boat fingers Rafi Quintana to Marco.

Along with that 40-slip marina, this 10-acre resort has 30 moderately-priced suites, a beach, tennis courts, a swimming pool and Habanos Oceanfront, a Cuban and seafood restaurant.

To Keys locals, Caloosa is most prominently known for the Safari Lounge, a watering hole that defies the area’s local waterside theme by presenting such hunting prizes as a Cape buffalo and rhino busts. The bar’s signature drink, made from the African liqueur amarula, is called the Horny Rhino. Danny and John went drinking at the Safari Lounge in Episode 8.

Interesting tidbits: Though spelled differently, Caloosa Cove is named after the Calusa Indians, who occupied the Upper Keys when Europeans first began recording visits there in the 16th and 17th centuries. A large outdoor mural on the property depicts a Calusa village.

The animal busts at Safari Lounge were hunted by the original Caloosa Cove owner, Leslie Tassell. They’re the reason the lounge is best known to locals as Dead Animal Bar, or the DAB for short.

Anne's Beach
Anne's Beach
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Anne’s Beach – Mile Marker 73.5, oceanside

Robert Rayburn included this narrow spit of beach in his daily kayaking circuit, and it was here that he had his stroke late in Episode 2 as he paddled away from Danny.

In real life, Anne’s Beach is a popular Village of Islamorada-maintained park that runs for approximately a quarter mile not far to the north of the spectacular Channel 5 Bridge. The beach nearly gets swallowed up by high tide, but even then it’s a good place to put down a beach chair and dangle your feet in the water. There’s also a nice boardwalk along the beach berm as well a several picnic pavilions.

Interesting tidbits: Anne’s Beach is a popular launch for kiteboarders. Go there on windy days, especially during the weekend, to view their colorful soaring kites and their on-the-water escapades.

This beach looks like it’s made of sand, but it really isn’t. Instead, Anne’s Beach is formed from small pieces of coral that parrot fish ate off the reef and later regurgitated. Before you get grossed out, remember that parrot fish help reefs by cleaning them of parasites.


Long Key State Park – Mile Marker 67.4, oceanside

The isolated strip of sand where John met with Danny in Episode 12 for their climatic encounter belongs in real life to Long Key State Park.

In addition to the beach, the 980-acre-park has a paddling trail through coastal lagoons and a 1.1-mile walking route that is part boardwalk and part trail. Swimming, fishing and snorkeling, as well as camping at one of 60 campsites that overlook the Atlantic Ocean, are also popular Long Key State Park activities.

Interesting tidbits: With a population of just 187 people, Layton, the tiny town that lies just north of Long Key State Park, is one of the 10 smallest municipalities in the Sunshine State.

For many, Layton is best known for the police car that is always parked menacingly along the Overseas Highway, just outside city hall. Don’t worry though, it’s just for show. Neither John nor any other Monroe County Sheriff’s officer is ever in the car.

We hope you enjoyed the Islamorada local’s guide to Bloodline. If you visit Islamorada and want to talk about investing, please come by our office at MM 81.8 on the bayside!

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