THE FLORIDA KEYS, AN AMERICAN PARADISE
The Florida Keys are without doubt one of the most beautiful self-guided tour trips anyone can experience in Florida and in the entire United States. Over 120 miles of sheer natural beauty and continuous ocean view await you on this unique trip punctuated with jaw-dropping discoveries and fun activities.
From the Florida Keys' gates at Key Largo to its southwestern end at Key West, the Overseas Highway spans over 42 bridges and countless well-preserved tropical islands including the iconic Islamorada and Marathon islands.
Natural wonders, history-rich landmarks and fun-filled theme parks are just some oft he highlights of discovering the Florida Keys, a fantastic journey for drivers, hikers, sport lovers, divers and the whole family, making up for one-of-a-kind perfect vacation in a true American paradise.
Florida Keys Map
Insider Travel Tips
- From January thru April is when you will enjoy a near-perfect weather, the season peak being in March, when Key West is the busiest and most expensive. May thru December is hotter and more humid, yet still quite busy and June marks the start of the off season which will end in December, with a few downsides but also great values and not-to-be-missed local events.
- Driving is a fantastic way to enjoy the unique Florida Keys scenery but you can save time on your vacation by flying directly into the Keys and rent a car on location at any of the two international airports: Key West International Airport (EYW) or the smaller Florida Keys Marathon International Airport (MTH).
- The key to driving in the Keys is the Mile Marker System, addresses and locations being simply indicated by a mile marker (MM) number as it is nearly impossible to get lost. The rectangular, green signs guide you way along the the U.S. 1 Overseas Highway that begins at MM 126, and ends at MM 0 in Key West. Locals often refers to abbreviations like BS (Bay Side) and OS (Ocean Side) to know which side to look for things.
- Besides regular public transportation, a very popular activity to go around the Florida Keys are the Conch Tour Train and Key West Trolley Tours, both being a great way to get a break from the car while enjoy the scenery worry-free on fun and informative guided tours.
- Another fun and original way to discover the Florida Keys is by bicycle! But although cycling is allowed along U.S. 1 Overseas Highway, it is not recommended for obvious safety reasons. You may enjoy a much better time riding the adjacent Overseas Heritage Trail and towns like Key West. Check this Florida Keys Bicycling Guide for more info and bicycle rental listings.
- All legitimate vacation rentals in the Florida Keys are licensed, and short term rentals (less than four weeks) are required to have a licensed, locally-based manager to assist renters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A simple and efficient way to avoid any scam is to check online that your rental owner has paid his Monroe County Business Tax Receipt.
Key Largo, diving & ecotourism at its best
- It only takes you under 1h to drive from Miami Int'l Airport First to the northernmost point of the Florida Keys, the well-known Key Largo, one of Florida's favorite weekend getaway.
- If you're of the underwater kind, Key Largo a fantastic spot worthy of its reputation of Diving Capital of the World thanks to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and its world-famous underwater statue of Jesus Christ, as well as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- If diving is not your thing, go to Dolphin Cove's five-acre lagoon to swim with dolphins, explore the island by kayaking, paddling, or with an eco-friendly tour, or just relax on heavenly beaches.
- There is so much to do in Key Largo that you could spend weeks there without getting bored, but we encourage you to continue on to the next stop: Islamorada.
ISLAMORADA, SPORTS FISHING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
- It takes you only half an hour from Key Largo to reach Islamorada, a laid-back island famous for being the Sportfishing Capital of the World.
- If you're down for some serious fishing and angling, there is almost too many professional charter boats and captains for hire to choose from, but if you know what you want you are in for some awesome time in Islamorada.
- Besides sport-fishing, Islamorada is another great spot for snorkeling, leisurely swimming in crystal blue waters or simply laying low on a perfect white sand beach, unless you'd rather explore the fascinating nature and local history of the Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park.
MARATHON, A FAMILY-STYLE MARINE HEAVEN
- The small, family-friendly island of Marathon is to boating what Key Largo is to diving and Islamorada to fishing.
- Harboring hundreds of wet and dry slips (1,200 of each), Marathon features several premium marine facilities where you will have no trouble find a friendly sea ride to explore the area or take a tour of the many local diving and snorkeling sites, from "Sombrero Reef" to "Delta Shoals".
- If you'd rather skip sailing, you can visit the amazing Dolphin Research Center that lets you swim with dolphins, discover the philantropic Turtle Hospital, or experience close encounters wih stingrays, sharks, and reef fish at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.
Big Pine Key & Bahia Honda
- Entrance gate to the Lower Keys, the southernmost part of the Florida Keys, Big Pine Key is most famous for its iconic Seven Mile Bridge that connects it to Marathon and appeared in many a Hollywood blockbuster.
- Relaxing and enjoying nature is a way of life in Big Pine Key, from the majestic Bahia Honda State Park & Recreation Area - home of one of America's most beautiful beaches, to the intriguing National Key Deer Refuge, and the limpid waters of the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary to dive around fantastic shipswrecks.
- True to its reputation, Big Pine is also a great starting point for diving around major sunk like the 210-foot long Adolphus Busch, but it is also a wondeful place to kayak in the mangroves or simply take great bicycling trips.
KEY WEST, HAPPY ENDING OF A PERFECT JOURNEY
- Final destination and southernmost point of The Florida Keys, Key West is also undoubtedly the most famous and favorite spot of outside travelers and Floridans alike.
- Dotted with perfect whitesand beaches, Key West offers endless watersport options, from boating to kayaking, and or course snorkeling and diving.
- However Key West is also known for its famous inhabitants (Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Audubon...) and rich historical landmarks and museums.
- Abiding by the motto "One Human Family", Key West is a lively and unique community where hippies mingle with hipsters and vacationing families, as well as alternative-lifestyle crowds enjoying a vibrant nightlife all year long.
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