With so many beautiful beaches in Florida, it’s hard to decide where to go. While Key West and Miami Beach are top tourist destinations, many travelers prefer to head to the road or to the somewhat less traveled islands.
Just because these destinations aren’t as popular doesn’t mean they’re less fun, because they offer some of the Sunshine State’s best scenery, attractions, and outdoor activities. Any vacationer looking for fun in the sun, whether it’s an entire vacation or just a day trip, should consider these islands in the Florida Keys as a must-see location for plenty of things to see and do. While it may seem difficult to choose, below is some information that will give anyone who fancies a trip something to think about.
* Although many places open, always check ahead to learn more about travel restrictions and local COVID-19 safety protocols.
Key Largo is the largest and northernmost of the Florida Keys, and is self-proclaimed “Diving Capital of the World”. Near the Florida Everglades, it’s a popular tourist spot for those looking to experience a dazzling array of landscapes, from tropical hardwoods to the only living barrier reef in the continental United States.
Activities in Key Largo
There is no shortage of things to do in Key Largo. known for its eco-tourism, it has several state parks and underwater activities for those who want to explore both land and sea, but its water activities are definitely where it is.
Wild aquatic adventures
Key Largo’s location is ideal for those who enjoy water sports. Here are some of the fun things to see as you hit it in this beautiful key.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a favorite spot for those who wish to explore the beautiful underwater landscapes while diving, snorkeling and many other recreational activities. A world of underwater treasures awaits anyone who wants a glimpse of diverse marine life, breathtaking corals, and even historic shipwrecks. Swim with dolphins or learn about the area’s native plants and animals at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, or check out the boating possibilities if you prefer to stay above the water.
Tip: the sanctuary does not host snorkeling or diving trips; However, visitors can book tours with Blue Star Operators, a program engaged in safe and sustainable underwater activities aimed at protecting and maintaining the region’s diverse ecosystem. Check out the list of participating fishing and diving guide operators here.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a once in a lifetime experience for anyone visiting Key Largo. A diverse area that includes mangroves and tropical areas; the main attraction is the coral reefs. Scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking are some of the park’s most popular activities, and visitors can also take a glass-bottom boat tour to experience the wonders of the reefs. There are also many activities on land for those who wish to take a short hike or a picnic.
- advice: The Spirit of Pennekamp is available for glass bottom boat trips lasting approximately 2.5 hours. Adult: $ 32.00 4-11 years old: $ 19.00 3 years old and under: free
Be sure to book in advance to plan your trip.
Key Largo summary
Its myriad of water activities (above and below) make Key Largo an ideal destination for those who wish to enjoy the unique and diverse marine life, colorful coral reefs, and the hidden gems of this spectacular Key.
- Key Largo is family friendly, with plenty of activities geared towards entertaining people of all ages.
- There is also a lot to do on earth! Discover the Dive History Museum, Crane Point Museum and Nature Center, and Hemingway House and Museum.
- There are many places to stay in Key Largo, from large resorts and motels to smaller B & Bs and family vacation rentals.
- The restaurant scene in Key Largo is diverse and vibrant, with plenty of options for dining on the waterfront.
Islamorada is a six-island village located between Miami and Key West. Despite being a tourist destination, Islamorada is smaller than Key Largo, which may appeal to vacationers who want lots of things to do without too much fuss. Known as the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World,” Islamorada is an ideal location for those who want to experience beautiful scenery, plenty of recreational activities and a quaint and charming small town atmosphere.
Parks, beaches and reserves
Enjoy the beauty of Islamorada in one of its many parks and beaches.
An ideal place for the whole family, including dogs (provided they are kept on a leash). With 300 feet of boardwalk and six pavilions, this beach is scenic but offers the opportunity to swim (especially good for kids, as there is little to no wave action), picnic, and relax.
Plantation hammock reserve
A relaxing park with wonderful views and nature trails to explore. No dog is allowed.
Tropical plantation reserve
This park is also great for families as it has a memorial garden for children, a nature trail, and a kayak launch pad. Prepare a lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic tables. Dogs allowed, kept on a leash.
Known as “The Jewel of Islamorada”, this large park is ideal for those who want it all: water sports, outdoor activities, and fun, family-friendly events. Dogs are not allowed on the beaches or in the picnic areas.
- Park hours: Sunrise at Sundet
- Pool hours: Mon 8 am-6pm, Sat / Sun 10 am-5pm
Any trip to Islamorada would be incomplete without taking advantage of the area’s many recreational fishing guides. After all, backcountry sport fishing and saltwater fly fishing were introduced here! The fishing options are incredibly diverse and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Islamorada is a fun, family-friendly tourist destination, but it’s smaller and more laid-back than most of the surrounding areas. Visitors looking for a more low-key trip can enjoy plenty of activities here without sacrificing relaxation and are sure to enjoy the small town atmosphere.
- Sample the local cuisine of the region with a ton of fresh and tasty options. Beer lovers can also rejoice as Islamorada is home to the Upper Keys’ first microbrewery: the Florida Keys Brewing Company.
- Discover the Theater of the Sea for the opportunity to get up close and personal with dolphins, sea lions, alligators and sea turtles. Admission from $ 65.00 and up.
- Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is a lush tropical hideaway with beautiful views, boat trips, and kayak / boat rentals. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Rates: $ 2.50 / person, tour fee of $ 2 / person.
- Lots of places to stay including campgrounds, luxury resorts and smaller motels, vacation homes, and rental properties.
There is plenty to do for the whole family in Key Largo and Islamorada – both locations offer unbeatable outdoor and marine activities, stunning scenery, and memorable experiences on land and sea. a more laid-back little town, Islamorada is the way to go; and for those who want a more lively, high-energy place, Key Largo is where it is. Either way, travelers will find an incredible vacation destination that showcases the best of the beautiful Florida Keys.
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