The Florida Keys make an absolutely wonderful destination at any time of year, one that many visitors find themselves returning to again and again. Whether you’re into fishing, diving & snorkeling, boating, cuisine with a “Floribbean” accent, the fine arts, live music, or you’re just in search of some world-class relaxing amidst tropical breezes – after all, The New York Times headlined a Keys article “Just Possibly the Best Place for Doing Nothing” – you can indulge yourself in The Florida Keys. The Florida Keys comprise most of Monroe County which borders Miami-Dade County on the Florida mainland and extends to Key West and surrounding islands. The mainland portion includes part of The Everglades and Big Cypress Nature Preserve. The entrance to The Keys begins on US-1 in Florida City. Key Largo is located roughly 18 miles from there following either the “18-mile Stretch” or Card Sound (toll) Road. The Keys has five principal areas: Key Largo, Islamorada, the Middle Keys (including Marathon), the Lower Keys, and Key West. Florida Keys Vacation Rentals has an office in each location for your convenience. US-1, also known locally as The Overseas Highway, connects the major islands. It is roughly 108 miles from Key Largo to Key West. There is an airport served by commercial carriers in Key West. Another airport in Marathon offers private and charter service. Direct flights to Key West are available from many Florida points of origin as well as from Atlanta and the Bahamas.
Key Largo is the northernmost developed area in the Florida Keys, situated an hour south of the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area and its two major airports. Key Largo has been called the dive capital of the world with coral reefs and numerous wrecks to explore. There is plenty for snorkelers to experience, too. Of course, it’s also a sport fishing destination, and there are beaches, nature trails with abundant tropical hardwoods, two state parks, a national park and a portion of a national marine sanctuary. Key Largo’s protected natural beauty has made the area a premier destination for eco-tourists and for those also interested in exploring the Everglades
Traveling: Key Largo to Miami International Airport: 1.75 hours Key Largo to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport: 2 hours Key Largo to Islamorada: 25 minutes Key Largo to Marathon: 65 minutes Key Largo to Big Pine Key: 1 hour 30 minutes Key Largo to Key West: 2.5 hours
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Harry Harris Park “is a place to spend the day at the ocean. The beach, not open to the ocean, is a tidal pool safer for children. The basketball courts, Kiddie playground, pavilions and BBQ grills are close to restrooms and parking. Two softball fields hosts local teams. One of the most popular features in this park is its deep water easy access boat ramp. Maximum length for Vehicle plus trailer cannot exceed 45'. There are 15 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers for day parking only. Pet friendly, Park closes at sunset.”
Diving and snorkeling See additional diving and snorkeling resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website. The Key Largo Downtown Assoc.’s directory of fishing and diving charters Guides to Key Largo from GreatestDiveSites.com and DiveSpots.com
Fishing See additional fishing resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website. Also see the Key Largo Downtown Assoc.’s directory of fishing and diving charters. Good introductory information at Florida-Keys-Fishing.org. Florida Keys news and forums at FloridaSportsman.com.
Boating For boat rentals, see our Directory For kayak rentals and eco-touring, see our Directory. For information about mooring buoys, marinas, boat ramps, paddling trails, safety and courtesy see the site maintained by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. See additional boating resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website. For up-to-date weather forecasts visit NOAA’s official marine forecast site.
Attractions Key Largo is most notably home to the 70-square mile John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Set among mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks, the coral reefs and their marine life appeal to scuba divers and snorkelers while the glass-bottom boat draws those who want to explore the reef without getting wet. A coral reef theater or giant reconstructed living reef patch aquarium is also available for those needing dive instruction/certification.
Canoeing and kayaking Through the park´s waters are popular activities; fishing is permitted in designated areas. Visitors can hike two short trails, or picnic and swim at the beach. Full-facility and youth/group campgrounds are available.For boat tour information and reservations, call (305) 451-6300. Located at Mile Marker 102.5 in Key Largo.
The Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is one of the largest protected areas of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States. It’s also home to 84 rare species of plants and animals, including wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe, and the American crocodile.
Visitors can explore over six miles of trails, paved and accessible to both bicycles and wheelchairs. These nature trails are a birdwatcher and photographer paradise. Signs dotting a self-guided nature trail provide information about the park´s ecosystem and wildlife; ranger-guided tours are available. Located on County Road 905, one-quarter mile north of its intersection with Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), (305) 451-1202.
The Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, home to unique vegetation and temperate and endangered species, like the American crocodile, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, in recognition of its worldwide significance. Main entrance, Ernest Coe Visitor Center, located at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034.
About the Middle Keys
Key Colony Beach, Duck Key, Marathon Key & other areas in Middle Keys Middle Keys encompass Marathon Key at the west, Key Colony Beach, Grassy Key, Duck Key, and Long Key at the east. The area, known as the heart of the Florida Keys, spans more than 20 miles and offers great variety of activities and visitor amenities.
The Middle Keys have a family-friendly atmosphere. The communities have preserved Florida’s fishing heritage, maintaining the traditional Keys lifestyle that brings snowbirds back year after year.
TRAVEL Marathon to Key Largo: 65 minutes Marathon to Islamorada: 40 minutes Marathon to Big Pine Key: 35 minutes Marathon to Key West: 80 minutes Marathon to Miami International Airport: 2.75 hours Marathon to Ft. Lauderdale
Weather The average temperature in Marathon ranges between 75 and 91 degrees in August, the warmest month, and 56 and 77 in January, the coolest month.
On The Water Beaches Sombrero Beach is a beautiful park and beach at the end of Sombrero Blvd. (Webcam here) In 2001 the City redeveloped Sombrero Beach to include total handicap accessibility. A lovely sandy beach on the Atlantic Ocean frames a shady park with picnic pavilions, volleyball courts, restrooms and showers. It’s also a turtle nesting beach. From April through October it is not unusual to have Loggerhead turtles (primarily) coming on to the beach at night to lay their eggs. During active turtle nesting season the City limits human activities in the vicinity of active turtle nest establishments. Turtle nest areas typically represents less than 10% of the available beach area. The remainder of the beach is open for our visitors and residents to enjoy. The hours are from 7:00 a.m. until dusk. To get there turn South on Sombrero Beach Road and drive to the end of the road. You are there!” MM 50, OCEANSIDE, MARATHON , FL
Bahia Honda State Park is one of Florida’s southernmost state parks, known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets, and excellent snorkeling. Dr. Beach named Bahia Honda as America’s Best Beach in 1992. More recently, it was selected as aTrip Advisor 2014 Traveler’s Choice. Visitors can picnic on the beach and take a swim, or simply relax and enjoy the balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Anglers can fish from shore or bring a boat and launch at the boat ramp. The park’s concession rents kayaks and snorkeling gear and offers boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions. Bahia Honda is an excellent place to see wading birds and shorebirds. The nature center can introduce nature lovers to the island’s unique plants and animals. Full-facility campsites and vacation cabins are available. It’s located between Big Pine Key and Marathon. 36850 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, Phone (305) 872-2353.
Coco Plum Beach – Coco Plum Beach is also on the Atlantic Ocean. It is more of a natural beach area with an adjacent wetland area. There are restroom facilities and a covered pavilion available. Coco Plum Beach is a turtle nesting beach also. To get there turn South on Coco Plum Drive and the beach entrance is 1.4 miles on the right hand side of the road. The hours are from 7:00 a.m. until dusk.
Boating For information about mooring buoys, marinas, boat ramps, paddling trails, safety and courtesy see the site maintained by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission For up-to-date weather forecasts visit NOAA’s official marine forecast site For tide information, visit Salt Water Tides. See additional boating resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website For boat rentals, see our Directory For kayak rentals and eco-touring, see our Directory
Fishing See additional fishing resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website For charter suggestions, check Marathon Yelp, Long Key Yelp, or Key Colony Beach Yelp Good introductory information at Florida-Keys-Fishing.org Florida Keys news and forums at FloridaSportsman.com
Snorkeling and Diving Marathon’s reefs offer great variety in coral formations and fish life. The crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean reveal a marine wilderness comprised of an extensive spur-and-groove coral complex and numerous well-developed patch reefs. Each reef is populated by a vast array of Caribbean tropical fish and invertebrates, with the fascinating addition of both modern and historical shipwrecks to complete the tremendous sport dive appeal of the region.
Adelaide Baker – This historic shipwreck features a pair of huge stacks in only 25 feet of water, a vivid reminder of the days when steamships plied the Florida Keys. Sombrero Reef – This traditional favorite of the Marathon dive portfolio is marked by a 140-foot lighted tower.
Coral canyons and archways provide refuge for schools of grunt and snapper while solitary barracuda appear to stand sentinel. Coffin’s Patch – This is not a single reef but a conglomerate of six distinct patch reefs, each with a unique identity defined by a predominant coral species. For example, at Pillar Coral Patch dozens of intact pillar coral heads thrust their fuzzy polyps to snare passing nutrients. Snorkelers will especially appreciate the shallow elkhorn forests found throughout Coffin’s Patch in less than 20 feet of water.
Delta Shoals – Here a vast network of coral canyons fan seaward from a sandy shoal, offering wonderful opportunities for both diving and snorkeling amid elkhorn, brain, and star coral heads. The Thunderbolt – This 188-foot ship is the queen of the Marathon wreck fleet. Sunk intentionally as a dive attraction on March 3, 1986, she now sits perfectly upright in 115 feet of water. Her superstructure is coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid, providing refuge and sustenance to large angelfish, jacks, and a variety of deep-water pelagic creatures. Snorkeling spots from TropicalSnorkeling.com
Attractions The Seven Mile Bridge is the famous 7-mile long bridge connecting Knight’s Key to Little Duck Key. It was considered the longest bridge in existence when originally constructed. There are two bridges in this location: The older bridge, originally known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge, was constructed from 1909-1912 under the direction of Henry Flagler as part of the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad. This bridge was badly damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Although it was subsequently refurbished as an automobile highway bridge, it now serves as a fishing pier and provides access to Pigeon Key and the Pigeon Key Foundation & Marine Science Center. Crane Point ‘s Museum of Natural History provides visitors with a rich display of local wildlife, marine life and natural and cultural artifacts: objects from Spanish explorations, butterflies, tree snails, sea turtles, Key deer, and tropical fish within a simulated coral reef cave. Walk the Nature Trails through a dense tropical forest and end up at a spectacular view of Florida Bay and the 1950’s Crane House. See birds up close and learn how injured birds are rehabilitated and released at Marathon Wild Bird Center. Additionally, visit the Creature Feature, an exhibit about native Keys’ animals which includes an observational bee hive. Spend time enjoying the lagoons and Marine Touch Tanks, home to various species of Keys’ fish and invertebrates. Play on a pirate ship at the Children’s Activity Center. Visit the second oldest house in the Keys, the Adderley House Historic Site, built by a Bahamian immigrant. 5550 Overseas Hwy, MM 50.5, Marathon, FL 33050, Phone (305) 743-9100. Curry Hammock State Park is made up of a group of islands in the Middle Keys, with public access to swimming, a playground, picnic tables, grills, and showers on the ocean side of Little Crawl Key. The hardwood hammocks found on these tropical islands support one of the largest populations of thatch palms in the United States. Mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and wetlands provide vital habitats for tropical wildlife. 56200 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050, Phone (305) 289-2690.
Long Key State Park was once the site of a luxurious fishing resort that was destroyed during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Today, visitors can explore this island by canoeing through a chain of lagoons or hiking two land-based trails.
The Golden Orb Trail leads visitors through five natural communities to an observation tower that provides a panoramic view of the island and its profusion of plant and animal life. Some of the best bonefishing in the Keys is found here.
Full-facility campsites overlook the Atlantic Ocean.67400 Overseas Hwy, MM 67.5, Long Key, FL 33001, Phone (305) 664-4815.
The Dolphin Research Center offers several exciting presentations daily demonstrating the dolphins’ high flying athletics, dolphin education fun facts, dolphin research, new behavior training, medical behaviors, and much more. Enjoy dolphin swims and other encounters, as well as other fun chances to touch a dolphin. 5890 Overseas Hwy, Grassy Key, FL 33050, Phone (305) 289-1121.
The Turtle Hospital was opened in 1986 with four main goals: 1) repair injured sea turtles and return them to the wild, 2) educate the public through outreach programs to local schools, 3) conduct and assist with research which aids the sea turtles (in conjunction with state universities), and 4) work toward environmental legislation which makes the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles. Four species of sea turtle are treated at the Hospital: Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley. The hospital receives numerous sick or injured turtles each year and the number of patients is usually about 45 at any given time (although this number fluctuates). Price of admission includes an approximate 45 minute educational guide of the hospital with a presentation and a 45 minute guide through the sea turtle rehabilitation area. Reservations are required, admission subject to cancellation due to emergencies or weather. 2396 Overseas Hwy, MM 48.5, Marathon, FL 33050, Phone (305)743-2552.
Islamorada Consists of four islands in the Upper Florida Keys south and west of Key largo, Encompassing Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe and Lower Matacumbe Key plus the off shore islands of Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key.
Known as the "VILLAGE OF ISLANDS' Islamorada is also often called the "SPORTS FISHING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD" Aqua blue water, shallow reefs, abundant coral and wildlife make Islamorada any water sport lover;s paradise.
Visitors can easily pursue all watersport activities including snorkeling and scuba diving the reef and wrecks, kayaking and windsurfing, power boating and sailing. Perhaps the world's highest density of professional offshore charter boats can be found here where backcountry sports fishing and saltwater fly fishing were pioneered. Beyond fishing and water sports, Islamorada offers visitors tranquil, white sand beaches and a veriety of diversions such as waterfront dining, an active nightlife, music scene and attractions with historical interest.
The weather is awesome Islamorada average temperature ranges between 79-90 degrees in July and August, the two warmest months, and 62-75 in January, the coolest months of the year.
Anne’s Beach MM 73.5 Islamorada Fl Founders Park, Pool & Skate Park, MM 87 Islamorada Library Beach is a beautiful beach located behind the Monroe County Library Library Beach
Boating For more information about mooring, marinas, boat ramps & paddling trails Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission For up to date weather forcasts NOAA’s official marine forecast site For Tide information Salt Water Tides. Additional Boating resources at the Florida Keys Boat, Kayak & Eco-touring Directory.
Diving and Snorkeling List of Dive and snorkel sport can be found at Florida Key’s official tourism website & DiveSpots.com & GreatestDiveSpots.com.
Fishing See additional fishing resources at the Florida Keys official tourism website For charter suggestions Islamorada Yelp ,Tavernier Yelp ,Florida-Keys-Fishing.org , FloridaSportsman.com
Local Attractions The Florida Keys History of Diving Museum- MM 83 (305)-664-9737 Indian Key Historic State Park- by canoe or kayak MM 85.5 (305)-664-2540
Lignumvitae Key Botanical Stat Park MM 78.5 (305) 664 2540 Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park MM 85.5 (305) 664 2540 Theater of the Sea Swim with the Dolphins 5 Oceanside Islamorada (305) 664 2431 Reservation Required Robbie's Marina Feed the wild Tarpon, marine activities, tours, rent kayak, jet ski tour, back country guide or rent a boat 77522 Overseas Hwy Islamorada
Additional resources on local attractions in Islamorada at the Florida Keys official tourism website. Islamorada Official Chamber of Commerce website “Things to do” Recreation For children See activities for children at the official tourism site. & Kids In The Key For Dogs Founders Park Dog Park & Dog-friendly Attractions
Dining Directory of restaurants and bars at the Florida Keys official tourism website.
Shopping The Rain Barrel is a artist village, MM 86.7 Open 9-5pm everyday (305) 664 3433 The Banyan Tree Nursery, Gift Shop & antiques MM 81.2 Islamorada (305) 664 3433
For information of supermarkets , drugstores, marine supplies, law enforcement and other Keys resources visit Business Directory Entertainment Music Venues KeysScene.com Tavernier Cinema Tavernier Cinema 5 Live Music Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar Full Moon parties at Morada Bay Music at Island Grille Island Grille