Sitting 15 miles to the south of Miami are the Florida Keys – a 112 mile long archipelago known by many people as America’s Caribbean.
The Florida Keys along with Hawaii are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. There are many islands in the keys and they are all connected by one of the longest bridges in the world, the seven mile bridge. Out of all the islands in the Florida Keys only a handful receives the bulk of tourists and they are – Key Largo, Key West, Big Pine Key, Islamorada and Marathon. The Keys have been attracting local American and foreign tourists for many years now and some of the activities include fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and a wide variety of other water sport activities. It’s also become a very popular spring break destination that rivals Mexico’s Los Cabos and Isla Cozumel.
Where Are The Florida Keys?
The Main Florida Keys Islands
Key Largo has some of the most incredible coral reefs in the northern hemisphere and it’s also where you will find the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. People from around the US mainland and foreign countries visit here to scuba dive and snorkel the colorful reefs found in and around Key Largo and there are glass bottom boats for those who would like to see the coral reefs without getting wet. Big game fishing is just as popular and other activities include parasail rides, windsurfing and kayaking.
Key West is a great place for diving and fishing just like all the other islands that are part of the Florida Keys. It was also home to Ernest Hemingway and has a very vibrant art culture as you will see numerous art galleries all across Key West. Interestingly, when the Spaniards first discovered Key West they named it ‘island of bones’ because of the large amounts of skeletal remains they found here. Key West sits 90 miles from the Caribbean island Cuba and therefore once served as a midway point for American travelers making their way there.
Big Pine Key
Big Pine Key along with the rest of the smaller keys found to the south of it are not very popular amongst tourists. There is nothing wrong with Big Pine Key and the smaller keys and many claim that it’s the most scenic of all the places in the Florida Keys. It’s just that there aren’t many hotels, resorts or tour operators here – as a matter of fact, there aren’t even many buildings at all. Big Pine Key is home to the endangered Key Deer and the Bahia Honda State Park. The beaches here are also truly spectacular and immaculate.
Islamorada is known by many people as being the big game fishing capital of the world and you will find no shortage of people with their own boats who are willing to take you out to sea for some fishing. Some people also claim that Islamorada is the best place for diving in the Florida Keys thanks to wide variety of coral reefs and shipwrecks found around the island. The nightlife here is incredible and offers something for everyone – from comedy clubs, great restaurants and sport bars. It’s also one of the most affordable destinations in the keys.
Marathon sits in the center of the Florida Keys and serves as the perfect all year round holiday destination for those who love big game fishing. It’s also one of the only two islands in the Keys that has an airport. Visitors can choose from a wide range of activities other than big game fishing such as going for swims with dolphins, spending time on the islands most popular beach – Sombrero Beach or even visiting the local historical museum. Marathon has a lot of luxurious hotels and resorts but when here you should try out the botels which are floating motel rooms on the water.
When To Go
The Florida Keys enjoys a year round hot and tropical climate and doesn’t really get as many hurricanes like the Caribbean does since it sits a little further to the north of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t receive them so it’s best to avoid between June and November.
General Florida Keys Info: Get lots more info about the keys at fla-keys.com.
VisitFlorida.com: Visitflorida.com is a great source of information not only for the keys but also for the rest of Florida state.