WHAT TO DOThe
Florida Keys offer a wide array of activities and adventures from shipwreck museums, to dolphin encounters, to big game fishing, geological sites and more. There's so much to do and see it'll be hard to decide what to try first. It's another reason why so many visitors return again and again! Here are a few activities collected from various websites including fla-keys.com and thefloridakeys.com.
The Caribbean Shipwreck Museum and Research Institute showcases artifacts collected from the ocean floor, including items from the Henrietta Marie, a slave shipwreck discovered in the Florida Straits in 1972 are on display.
- America's first underwater state park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located in Key Largo. Dive and learn about the Keys' ecosystem, visit the park's Coral Reef Theater, check out Pennekamp Beach or set up your tent at the Pennekamp campground for a real back-to-nature experience.
- Two Key Largo companies offer swim with the dolphin programs: Dolphin's Plus, Inc. offers a structured dolphin swim allowing participants to have one-on-one direct contact with the dolphins, and a natural swim which allows the swimmers to snorkel freely with a group of dolphins; Theatre of the Sea offers a dolphin swim and a trainer-for-a-day program.
- The Everglades National Park, the only one of its kind in the world, showcases a 1.5-million acre ecosystem that stretches west from the bay side of Key Largo.
- Beaches aren't as plentiful as the travel brochures may indicate, but there are four on Islamorada to check out. Plantation Yacht Harbor has a beach with a swimming area and there are bathrooms and a concession that offers a small menu of fast food. Islamorada County Park has a beach on one side of a natural creek. The snorkeling is good, but the currents are strong. Anne's Beach is located on Lower Matecumbe Key south of the Caloosa Cove Resort and features a boardwalk and basic public bathrooms. What is called "Islamorada Beach" is actually a wide sandbar near Holiday Isle and you can only get there by boat
- Big game fishing is a favorite past-time in the Islamorada area. The Gulf Stream attracts a variety of prized game fish and you can reserve a place on a party boat. Bridge fishing is very popular too.
- Visit the Windley Key Fossil Reef State Geological Site where you can explore long walls of fossilized coral reef.
Visit the Old Seven Mile Bridge to catch a bird's eye view of the sea life flowing beneath the structure. Also check out the museum on Pigeon Key, which served as a base camp for the workers building various roads and bridges throughout the Keys. You can reach it from the Pigeon Key Visitors Center, located off the Marathon end of the bridge.
Beaches are hard to come by in the Keys, but there are several to try in Marathon.
Sombrero Beach is a busy public beach area and includes picnic tables, grills, a playground, softball diamond and volleyball net. Coco Plum Beach is perfect for finding seashells and has the best selection of shells than any other place in the Keys. Long Key State Recreational Area features a half-mile of natural shoreline, a nature walk, picnic areas and campsites.
Deep sea fishing in the Middle Keys benefits from the warm Gulf Stream. The Gulf side can give you a smooth boating experience and attracts some big game fish as well.
The main attraction here is the Looe Key National Marine Preserve. Diving and snorkeling are popular activities and the underwater concert held in July is a true Keys experience not to be missed.
Also, if you are in search of a fantastic beach, you'll find it at Bahia Honda State Park. Considered one of the most beautiful in the world, the park offers nature walks through the grounds as well.
In Big Pine Key you'll find the Key Deer Refuge and the Blue Hole area. The Blue Hole area gives you a chance to get close to alligators, turtles and some beautiful bird specimens. The Key Deer Refuge Headquarters, which offers a wealth of information about Big Pine's unique habitat, is located in a nearby shopping center.
KEY WESTOne of the top Key West activities is lounging at the beach. Here, you'll find most of them on the south side of the island. There's Smathers Beach with its volleyball games and watersport concessions and the quieter beach at Fort Zachary Taylor. There are also several parks on the island including West Martello Towers, ball fields and tennis courts at Bayview Park and more.
SOUTHERNMOST POINT While in Key West, visit the famous Southernmost Point in the Continental USA.
SUNSET CELEBRATION Nightly Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square in Key West. Visitors can see a spectacular sunset, and enjoy performances by the various carnival performers and vendors.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY HOME and MUSEUM Take a tour of the home and gardens of the late Nobel Prize winner, Ernest Hemingway, which is a Registered National Historic Landmark. Look for the famous six-toed relatives of Hemmingway's original feline friends.
KEY WEST PUB CRAWL Take part in the famous Pub Crawl, visiting a variety of drinking establishments in the Florida Keys. Tour guides keep the atmosphere festive with jokes, antics, contests & stories. Don't miss it!
DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK Take an awesome ferry ride from Key West to the Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson. Experience a one-of-a-kind overnight camping adventure on an uninhabited island park!