Key Largo | Florida Keys Newsroom
The Florida Keys are bustling as new resorts continue to be unveiled throughout the destination.
The Florida Keys are bustling as new resorts continue to be unveiled throughout the destination.
New sustainable transportation options have been added in Islamorada’s Upper Matecumbe Key and expanded in Key West. Additionally, new airlift is coming to Key West from New York City and has been launched from Florida’s West Palm Beach.
Attractions continue to showcase sustainability and protection of the Keys’ natural resources and the island chain’s surrounding waters, protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Wine and food lovers can stimulate their taste buds at the annual “Uncorked: The Key Largo and Islamorada Food and Wine Festival,” an 11-day culinary and cocktail extravaganza set for Thursday, Jan. 10, through Sunday, Jan. 20.
Miles of oceanfront and Gulf front access await you in the Keys.
Recreational opportunities in the outdoors are the most important assets of the Keys.
The fishing and boating here is incredible-both in the Ocean and the back-country (the Gulf). There is something
to catch year round and our weather lets you do it. If you like the water, this is the place
• 47 Marinas
• 13 Parks,
• 3 Golf Courses
• 10 Campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks
• 13 public Tennis Courts
• 18 Boat Ramps
• To see a complete list of parks and recreational opportunities see
• the sites below
- Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
- Everglades National Park
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- John C. Pennekamp State Park
- Bahia Honda State Park
- Dolphin Research Center
- Florida Audubon Society
- Center for Coastal Ecosystem Health
- University of Miami: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
- Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, Summerland Key)
Things to do outdoors:
• Fishing-saltwater, freshwater-Ocean, lakes and the Everglades
• Boating-Ocean, Gulf or Bay
• Bike riding
• Photography and Wildlife watching
• Kayaking—canoes-there are good rental locations and lots of places to launch.
• Air boating into the Everglades
• Windsurfing the flats
Other places to visit.
• Audubon House-Original Audubon engravings (not Audubon's residence)
• Conch Tour Train-
• Curry Mansion Inn - 305 294-5349 511 Caroline Street, Key West FL 33040
• Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum - 305 294-1136, 907 Whitehead St., Key West FL
• Flagler's Station Historeum®-901 Caroline St., 1-305-295-3562.
• Haitian Art Co. - 305 296-8932, 600 Francis St., Key West FL 33040
• Heritage House Museum - 305 296-3573, 410 Caroline Street, Key West FL 33040
• Historic Seaport at Key West Bight.
• Key West Aquarium - 1 Whitehead St., Mallory Market
• Key West East Martello Museum - 305 296-3913, 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd.
• Key West Lighthouse Museum - 305 294-0012, 938 Whitehead Street
• Key West Museum of Art & History - 305 295-6616
• Custom House - 281 Front Street, Key West FL 33040
• Key West Shipwreck Historeum - 305 292-8990, 1 Whitehead Street
• Little White House Museum - 305 294-9911
• Wrecker's Museum - 322 Duval St., 294-9502. Built-in 1829. This is Key West's oldest house.
State Parks in the Florida Keys
Key West's Ft. Zach beach and park-Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West.
Florida's true wealth is based on its abundance of wildlife, diverse natural communities, and unique cultural heritage. The State Parks in the Florida Keys are each unique in their character and beauty.
Bahia Honda State Park - Big Pine Key, mile marker 36.
Bahia Honda has a natural environment found nowhere else in the continental United States. In the park, you will find several biological communities: beach dune, coastal berm, mangrove forest, tropical hardwood hammock, and submerged marine habitats. These communities host many plant and animal species of the Caribbean including several rare and unusual plants. The bird life of Bahia Honda includes herons, roseate spoonbills, egrets, ospreys, pelicans, and terns. Unlike most of the Florida Keys, Bahia Honda has a beautiful sandy beach along both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay. Snorkeling, swimming, fishing, camping (80 sites), six bayside cabins, and access to two boat ramps, make Bahia an outstanding recreational opportunity.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park - Key Largo, located on C.R. 905 (1/4 mile north of Overseas Hwy).
This park, at 2,304 acres, is one of largest hardwood hammocks in the United States. It is home to 84 protected species of plants and animals, including the American crocodile. Nature lovers, bird watchers, and photographers can explore over 6 miles of trails, most of which are paved and accessible to both bicycles and wheelchairs.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park - Key West, end of Southard Street, in Truman Annex.
"Fort Zach", as the locals call it, was once surrounded by water and crucial to the defenses of the early United States. Today, historians, nature buffs, and beach-goers visit Key West's hometown state park. With its pleasant manmade beach for swimming and snorkeling and shady picnic areas, Fort Taylor continues to be a favorite.
Indian Key State Historic Site - off Islamorada, mile marker 78.5, accessible only by private boat or charter boats available at nearby marinas.
This island was inhabited by Indians for several thousand years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The wrecking and salvaging "industry" of the 1700s brought change and war to the mostly peaceful Indians. Jacob Housman bought the island in 1831, built a town, only to have it burned down in 1840 by the Seminoles during the Second Seminal War. A fascinating part of Florida's history and worth a visit if you have access to a boat.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - Key Largo, mile marker 102.5.
The first underwater state park in the United States, Pennekamp covers 70 nautical miles of coral reefs (a small portion of America's only living coral reef), seagrass beds, and mangrove swamps. The park offers swimming, snorkeling, picnicking, camping, fishing, and boat ramp access. Concessions at the park offer glass bottom boat tours, a snorkeling tour, scuba lessons and tours, canoeing, motorboat, and sailboat rental.
Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site - off Islamorada, mile marker 78.5, accessible only by private boat or charter boats available at nearby marinas. This 280-acre island supports many trees native to tropical forests such as mastic, gumbo limbo, Jamaica dogwood, poisonwood, and lignum vitae. 1-hour guided walks are given at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., Thursday through Monday. The park is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Long Key State Recreational Area - Long Key, mile marker 67.5
Abundant in marine life and bird life, as well as tropical hammock trees Long Key visitors enjoy the area's sun-drenched, subtropical waters, and two nature trails available.
San Pedro Underwater Archeological Preserve - Long Key.
The San Pedro was a 287-ton ship, part of the fleet of New Spain in 1733. Her remains were discovered in 1960 under 18 feet of water in Hawk Channel near Indian Key. The underwater site has been enhanced with seven replica cannons, an anchor and an information plaque. To prevent anchor damage, tie up to mooring buoys located at the site.
• A 2-3 hour drive to Miami:
• Florida Marlins
• 2269 Dan Marino Blvd, Pro Player Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 · 305-626-7400
• Miami Dolphins
• 2269 Dan Marino Blvd, Pro Player Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 · 305-620-2578
• 601 Biscayne Blvd, American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL 33132-1801 · 786-777-432
FLORIDA KEYS -- Featuring vivid coral reefs teeming with exotic sea creatures, the Florida Keys offer a ready-made vacation paradise that attracts almost 800,000 snorkel and scuba aficionados each year who can't wait to get into the water and explore — even as first-timers.
Snorkeling requires a mask, snorkel, fins for propulsion and inflatable snorkeling vest to enjoy a day of underwater sightseeing. Professional snorkel charters provide (and rent) equipment and offer simple instruction. Add a T-shirt and sunblock to protect exposed backs, waists, and legs, and you're ready to go.
Spectacular reefs are a short boat ride from the islands, located in shallow water that's often just 10 to 15 feet deep.
How to Catch a Florida Keys Lobster - Lobster Season Florida Keys
Some favorite snorkel sites include the nation's first undersea park, Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and nearby, the 9-foot-tall 4,000-pound bronze statue, "Christ of the Deep." The shrine stands on a concrete base in approximately 25 feet of water and is one of the most photographed underwater sites in the world.
At French Reef and Davis Reef, also in the Key Largo area, large groupers and moray eels cruise among the cliffs and canyons, gullies and archways at depths from 15 to 40 feet.
Off Islamorada, Alligator Reef boasts huge populations of yellowtail snapper, grunts, goatfish and damselfish, as well as a mini-wall where lobsters hide in crevices.
Among Marathon's notable patch reefs and spur-and-groove formations is Sombrero Reef, marked by a large lighted tower. You might see a pair of spotfin butterflyfish circle in their courting dance, French angelfish nip and peck at reef plants, a huge school of grunts slide back and forth in a gentle tidal surge or a stingray scour the sandy bottom for a snack.
The Lower Keys' Looe Key Reef is acclaimed as one of the most spectacular shallow-water undersea environs. Its great numbers of reef fish annually "host" a well attended, albeit unusual, event for snorkelers and divers — the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.
Key West offers snorkelers nearby offshore wreck and artificial reef sites including the unique Stargazer project, created by Keys metal sculptor Ann Labriola. In 22 feet of water, the 200-foot-long creation is composed of 10 steel cutouts of star constellations, each weighing between 2,000 and 8,000 pounds. Each pattern is home to abundant marine life.
Snorkeling is the perfect family activity for Keys visitors seeking close, calm observation of the inhabitants of one of the world's most diverse, complex and beautiful ecosystems.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 800-FLA-KEYS
FLORIDA KEYS — Family time in the Florida Keys means moms, dads, 'tweens and teens can bond during a variety of soft adventure learning vacations. Together, they can try new sports in the active-lifestyle destination, learning skills in as little as two days or embracing the ultimate experience on a weeklong adventure.
Learning to scuba dive is increasingly popular among families. The calm, clear waters surrounding the island chain, which parallels the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef, provide the perfect learning environment for parents and children — as well as a lifetime of diving fun, adventure, and memories.
Kids as young as 10 years old can learn to be junior scuba divers. Scuba divers also can become underwater photographers, treasure hunters, marine biologists or even underwater archeologists.
Learning options range from introductory one-day courses through open-water certification classes with three to five days of training covering concepts such as basic physics and physiology, ocean waves, marine life and monitoring time and depth during a dive. That is followed by pool and open-water dives at the reef. Students learn about underwater coral and natural formations during an ocean dive, immersed in bright colors and a variety of reef fish and marine life.
Some of the first recreational dive training centers in America were opened in the Keys. Dozens of dive charter operations are staffed with working professionals who actively teach and train every day.
For information on dive training centers in the Florida Keys, visit fla-keys.com/diving.
Families also can learn or improve upon angling skills by teaming up with one of the region's professional fishing captains for a private learning charter or joining a group for a party-boat fishing experience.
Women in particular, from grandmas to pre-teens, can enjoy friendly mentoring during the annual Ladies, Let's Go Fishing! seminar and tournament. The hands-on weekend dubbed the "no yelling school of fishing," introduces female anglers to offshore, inshore, bottom and fly-fishing tackle and techniques in a nonintimidating atmosphere.
Ladies train with fishing tackle and tools, practicing spin casting, throwing a cast net, tying knots, boat handling, backing a trailer and gaffing a grapefruit. One of the most popular experiences for new anglers is learning to reel against pressure — with an unsuspecting male playing the role of a hooked fish.
For information, visit ladiesletsgofishing.com.
Families can get underway and hoist the sails during sailing lessons, targeted to novice sailors who want to experience on-the-water training. Basic through advanced cruising, live-aboard cruises and charters are offered in the waters off the Keys.
Florida Keys Sailing, located in Marathon, offers training for a sailing license to charter or rent a sailboat. Classes range from day sailing trips (with lessons but no tests!) to three-day soup-to-nuts learning courses, after which sailors should be skilled enough to skipper a 24- to 30-foot boat.
Five- and seven-day bareboat cruising classes offer serious candidates the skills to captain and charter a 40- or 50-foot sailboat anywhere in the world, and be able to take the family out for a cruise. For information, visit American Sailing Association
At Islamorada's Florida Keys Sailing Academy, aficionados can train aboard the Cour Volant, a 2002 Jeanneau SO40 built in France. Sailing classes range from one-day mate classes to weekend cruising refresher courses and three-day basic keelboat classes that explore sail theory and safety at sea.
At the conclusion of the course, students can safely and comfortably take a 25- to 30-foot boat out day sailing. Also popular among "maiden" voyagers are the academy's classes taught by women for women. For information, visit learntosailfloridakeys.com.
For families with young adults age 18 and older, Marathon's Dolphin Research Center offers unique entry-level and career-focused courses to learn more about the marine mammals — perhaps the ultimate vacation experience.
Established in 1985, DolphinLab enables students of many ages to learn about dolphins in a unique natural setting of outdoor classrooms and 90,000 square feet of seawater lagoons, The experience gained appeals to individuals who aspire to be trainers or research scientists in the marine mammal field.
Each weeklong course offers hands-on activities, seminars, and discussions with expert educators about marine mammal care, training, research, and environmental issues. Basic DolphinLab is a seven-day class perfect for the supreme dolphin enthusiast. Adult-focused career classes are fully accredited through Florida Keys Community College, and participants earn college credits.
Younger students age 15-17 can enroll in a seven-day Teen DolphinLab or Dolphin Camps for ages 10-12 and 13-14, where students meet the resident dolphin population and observe their behavioral and physical characteristics as a way of learning respect for each individual. For more information, visit dolphins.org.
Florida Keys Visitor information: fla-keys.com or 800-FLA-KEYS