Florida Keys, Florida, USA
Each of the Florida Keys offers something for everyone. In the Keys you will find the best places to snorkel, dive, relax on the beach, fish, you name it, they have it.
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The Florida Keys cover some 175km and are connected by bridges and causeway. The main islands of the Florida Keys consists of Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Islamorada, Big Pine Key & the Lower Keys, and Key West. Each has its own unique feature and offers a variety of accommodation types from camping grounds to resort hotels, and motel chains to chic inns.
The Keys provide the ideal setting for enjoying an array of water sports with scuba diving, snorkelling, sport fishing, boating, sailing and kayaking all being popular activities in the area.
There is an International Airport on Key West, or Miami Airport is around 2 hours drive away. Unless you're planning on staying in Key West, getting around the Keys is primarily done by car.
Map of Florida Keys
Key Largo is the first and northernmost of the Florida Keys, set midway between Miami and Key West. Home to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Underwater State Park, the famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue, shallow reefs and deep wrecks, it's understandably known as 'The diving capital of the world'.
Also on Key Largo are the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Dolphin Cove, where visitors get the opportunity to get up close and personal with dolphins and sea lions. The Everglades National Park is found on the bayside of Key Largo making it a good base for kayaking, bird watching and other eco-tours.
Islamorada, a 'Village of Islands', consists of several islands connected by the Overseas Highway and two offshore islands. With the Florida Bay on one side and the Florida Straits on the other, this area is known for its world class sport fishing. There are many annual fishing tournaments that take place here, with bonefish and sailfish the main targets.
In addition to fishing, Islamorada is home to several attractions; the Theatre of the Sea marine mammal park which features a variety of fish and marine life, native birds, crocodiles and exotic plants; the History of Diving Museum and the Islamorada Founders Park.
Marathon is situated in the middle of the Keys island chain, separated from the Lower Florida Keys by the Seven Mile Bridge. Marathon comprises of many islands starting with Long Key, the Conch Keys, Duck Key, Grassy Key, Boot Key, Crawl Key and Pigeon Key.
Features of the Marathon Keys include a Dolphin Research Centre, a Turtle Hospital, historic Pigeon Key island and museum and, the Crane Point Hammock Nature Preserve and Museum, a 63-acre environmental and archaeological preserve.
Big Pine Key & The Lower Keys
Big Pine Key is one of the larger Keys and is home to the small Key Deer and the National Key Deer Refuge Visitor Centre. There are limited tourist facilities in this area of the Keys with few accommodations and no shopping malls. The Lower Keys are an oasis of islands with fascinating names such as Summerland, Cudjoe, No Name, Sugarloaf, Saddlebunch, Coppitt, Big Torch and Little Torch Keys.
Key West is the southernmost of the Keys, with the Atlantic to its south and the Gulf on the northside, its actual location is closer to Cuba than to Miami. As a deep-water port it's a popular stop for cruise liners, who fill the main tourist strip on Duval Street which is lined with gift shops and numerous watering holes.
Key West comes alive at night starting with the sunset celebration which takes place every evening at Mallory Square. The streets are filled with pavement cafes, open-air bars and restaurants.
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