Those who delight in the thought of visiting a destination consisting of delightful islands warmed by the sunshine, mile-long beaches where colorful frangipani and hibiscus blossom, and surrounding towns where people enjoy alfresco dining and meals of fresh crab and lobster usually consider visiting the Caribbean. However, all of this can be found in the Florida Keys, which is an affordable, attractive alternative to exotic, tropical, island destinations.
The Florida Keys consist of over 1,700 islands. Some of these islands are connected by man-made bridges and are only a short, 15-mile drive south of Miami. The largest portion of islands are grouped together, stretching 106 miles in an arc shape that ends at the Dry Tortugas. This system of islands are comprised of three regions–the Lower, Middle, and Upper Keys.
One of the most well-known island of the Florida Keys, Key West, is where 30% of the Keys’ population calls home. Besides their top-notch diving and fishing facilities, Key West has several wildlife reserves, parks, and shopping plazas. Duval Street, which is its main thoroughfare, is an historical street where the legendary Ernest Hemingway once passed his time in its taverns. The Conch Train tours and the daily sunset performances make this a relaxing, yet entertaining island.
This subdued island is situated immediately South of popular Key Largo. Tavernier makes an ideal home base for those who wish to take a boating expedition around the Florida Bay or even the Atlantic Ocean. Bird watchers are drawn to the Florida Key’s Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation.
Islemoradas is a term coined by the Spanish, meaning “purple isle.” This lively island is full of comedy clubs, sports bars, and some of Florida’s best fishing spots where tuna an other types of fish abound in the Gulf. Tourists can also purchase rental equipment and take dive lessons for wreck and reef diving excursions.
Long Key and its state park are perfect for those wanting to experience camping and a place where they can escape from the busy, rush-rush place they hail from. This island is nature at its very best.
Marathon is located in the center of the Florida Keys. This island is yet another area where tourists come to fish, dive, and even swim with the dolphins. Other attractions are Marathon’s beach, museum, and airport, which is one of only two located in the Florida Keys.
Big Pine Key
This Lower Keys’ island is a laid-back place where nature has been unspoiled by the industrialization of man. Nature lovers are sure to appreciate Big Pine Key’s 300 white tail deer, lovingly referred to as “Key Deer.”