A World Away – Vacationing in the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys offer many of the same laid back characteristics as the Caribbean, without ever leaving the United States. Amazing sunsets and a free spirited attitude all contribute to the laid back atmosphere of the Keys.
There are many activities to do, like sport fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling, boating, sailing, kayaking and eco-tours. Each island destination has its own special features. These islands are also rich in culture and history with many galleries, restaurants, festivals, music and theater to visit and check out. Of course, just relaxing is always an option throughout the Keys as well.
The Keys span about 120 miles and are connected by bridges and causeways, running south west from Miami. This area has the only living-coral barrier reef in the United Stares and is approximately 5 miles off shore and runs the entire length of the Keys.
The first island in the Florida Keys is Key Largo. Being close to the Everglades National park, there is much wildlife to be seen here. It is a popular destination for kayakers and bird watchers. There are many amazing scuba diving or snorkeling sites in Key Largo as well, with many sunken wrecks in the area. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located here and offers scuba and snorkeling tours, glass bottom boat tours and swimming in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In 2002, the navy ship, the USS Spiegel Grove was sunk to provide a reef here and a sunken wreck for divers to explore.
The next island in the chain is Islamorada. It is comprised of six islands including Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key and the offshore islands of Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key. This area is well known for its world class sport fishing. There are many fishing tournaments held here each season.
Marathon Key is in the middle of the Florida keys. It is famous for the Seven Mile Bridge, which links it to the Lower Florida Keys. You will find great shopping and many fine restaurants offering fresh seafood. At Crane Point Museum, there is one of the last untouched tropical hardwood hammocks in the Florida Keys.
Big Pine Key is known for its boating tours and for bird watching and fishing. The diving and snorkeling is great here too. It is a quiet region of small resorts, home-style restaurants, vacation homes and untouched natural areas.
The last of the Florida Keys is Key West. There are many festivals, shopping and restaurants. Boat tours provide a great way to view Key West from the water. The snorkeling and diving are renowned here to see a diverse array of marine life. Wrecks and reefs, both artificial and natural coral, are home to hundreds of species of tropical and game fish. Many visitors rent a bicycle or go on walking tours to explore the history and architecture of Old Town Key West.
So if you are into eco-tourism, scuba diving or snorkeling, shopping and dining, or just want to relax in a tropical paradise, the Florida Keys may be the destination for you.