Florida Keys islands – a great place for a complete vacation
Florida is a great place for a beach vacation, but you should pay special attention to the Florida Keys archipelago, which includes about 1,700 reef islands of various sizes. This place is considered a paradise not only for tourists but also for local people. The extraordinary tropical nature attracts travelers as well as creative people. Every year thousands of tourists take away from here a lot of stunning photos and unforgettable impressions.
Briefly about the history
Nobody paid attention to these islands for a long time until the Spanish conquistadors came here. These places were not of interest in terms of profit, however, the arrival of whites, who brought various diseases to these territories, led to the gradual extinction of the Indians (indigenous inhabitants). For a time the islands were deserted, but as time passed, settlers reached these lands as well.
The first bridge, which connected the largest island of Key West and the Florida Peninsula, was built by the billionaire Henry Flagler at his own expense. Today there is a chain of roads and bridges between many of the islands. Almost any part of the archipelago can be reached by road.
Florida Keys islands – a great place for a complete vacation
If you are going on a trip to coral reef islands, Florida Keys, you should plan a scuba diving trip, it will bring a lot of unforgettable impressions and will leave bright memories for a long time. A huge variety of fish and other marine life, the extraordinary beauty of coral reefs will surprise and impress even the most discerning tourist. A large number of sunken ships from different times will appear before the eyes of inquisitive tourists. The unique underwater world takes its guests into another dimension, but it is only necessary to go a short distance from the shore. Diving into the depths of the sea is organized by experienced professionals – instructors, through which tourists receive comprehensive information on training and rules of conduct under water.
Ideal conditions for diving are offered on Marathon Island. Divers, whose water route goes under the coral bridge, will have an unforgettable experience. A total of six coral groups, consisting of different varieties, are striking in their beauty. All of them are located at a shallow depth, and even without the use of scuba gear (using a conventional mask) you can admire this beauty. In the coral canyon, formed by yellow-colored rocks, you can see the lobsters. For an initial diving experience, these are the most suitable places.
John Pennekamp National Park in Keu Largo
A map of the state shows that Key Largo is one of the largest islands of the Florida Keys. At the beginning of the last century, the coral reef may have disappeared and only thanks to a group of activists who stood up to protect it, today we have the opportunity to view the beauty of the underwater world here.
Nowadays, this place is very popular among tourists. Not only divers can enjoy the underwater beauty, but also those who prefer to take a boat ride and observe the underwater kingdom through the transparent bottom.
For connoisseurs of antiquity there is a reconstruction of a shipwreck of a Spanish ship of medieval times. Near Key Largo Island, there is an underwater statue (and there are only three) called “Christ of the Abyss,” the creator of which is sculptor Guido. Divers can take a tour of a British warship sunk during World War II.
Camping sites are available for campers in the park. Given the resort’s high demand, it’s best to make reservations in advance, otherwise you’ll have to wait for a vacant spot. The beaches are open 24 hours a day, so those who wish can swim under the moon and enjoy the freshness of the night.
Bahia Honda Park.
This southern island, like the others, is connected to the outside world by a sea bridge. Bahia Honda beach is one of the best in the world. Here is a warm and comfortable climate, clear water, sand that resembles the color of coffee with milk, colorful corals – all this creates a great mood for recreation. Not far from the shore begins deep water, which is especially attractive to divers.
Spring is considered the brightest season here, when subtropical flowers and lush plants bloom wildly. The perimeter of the park is a real jungle with many palms and lianas, among other plants. Plants such as tiger lily, laurel cedar and delicate sea lavender grow here. They are here thanks to migratory birds as well as hurricanes and powerful sea waves.
Among the birds in the park you can find gulls, pelicans and blue herons. For vacationers a great entertainment is diving with scuba diving or snorkeling. For those who prefer a quiet holiday, you can enjoy the views of the island from the sea, kayaking. For lovers of fishing offer a choice of excellent “fish” places, but you should know that underwater hunting in these places is prohibited.
For accommodation, most tourists choose campsites, but you can also stay in cottages, where the conditions are much more comfortable. You won’t let the TV or radio distract you from your vacation in this tropical paradise.
Lu Kee National Marine Sanctuary
Lu Kee is not an island in the literal sense. It is a ridge of coral reef, which comes from the Atlantic Ocean to the surface (Florida Keys archipelago). It is so named after a ship that sank, as a result of a wreck in the mid-18th century. While towing, the French ship collided with a reef, resulting in a fire on the ship. Both the tugboat and the trophy eventually sank. Even today, divers are finding wreckage of them in the depths of the sea, most of it having been completely destroyed in the fire.
Lu Ku has an original u-shape and several levels, which particularly attracts divers here. There are about 150 different species of fish (eg, sea angel, barracuda, moray eel, parrot fish), sometimes you can find an electric ray or a shark. About 50 species of corals of different colors and strange forms delight divers with their extraordinary beauty.
Next to the reef is a wreck of Adolphus Busch, which can be seen from the inside, thanks to the volumetric holes, but you must be a trained diver. Sea hunting here is forbidden by law, you can not touch also, shells and oysters. You can’t even take a small piece of coral as a souvenir.
Big Pine Key
For those looking for solitude, the lower islands of the Florida Keys are the place to be. Big Pine Key is known for its peace and tranquility. Here you won’t find bustling malls or large restaurants, but plenty of water. Looking into the distance – you can not tell where the sea ends and the sky begins. You can stay at a small hotel or a camping site. Moving to the island over the bridge, there’s no need to rush, it’s better to admire the amazing views from the window.
A unique endemic environment has developed here, and nowhere in the world one can find such representatives of flora and fauna as here. The island deer are under special protection. In order not to harm the surrounding world, even the speed limit is lower here than in other areas. It should be said that for those who like thrills, you can get them on the island too. For this purpose, it is enough to rent a plane at a small airfield and from the height of the flight to see the delightful scenery. For the most desperate, you can arrange a parachute jump. A kind of attraction is a large dirigible, from which you can see the entire island as if in the palm of your hand. The local population nicknamed it “Fat Albert”.
This place is a chain that is made up of 6 islands and is considered one of the most sought-after spots of the Florida Keys. You can get here by a bridge. The first inhabitants of this place were the Spaniards. The ancestors of the colony were sailors who came here after frequent shipwrecks.
These islands are most suitable for the organization of sea fishing, they even have the name “the capital of the world of sport fishing. You can buy all kinds of equipment in the local shops. Many people go fishing on their own, for which they rent a boat, but it is better to do it under the guidance of professionals.
In addition to fishing, the island has beautiful beaches, restaurants, where you can taste the sea food, and everything is available for outdoor activities.
The Florida Keys is a great place for a complete vacation for all tastes. However, it must be said that with the masses of advantages of the Florida Keys archipelago, yet life here is far from safe. The islands are above sea level at an altitude of no more than six meters, and hurricanes are quite common in these places. The local population builds houses on stilts, and the first floors are uninhabited. If there is a danger of flooding, the local population is evacuated to the mainland, which happens quite often lately.
Vacations in the Keys of Florida
The U.S. is full of places to enjoy great vacations and trips, but we’ll go to the Florida Keys, a group of coral reefs near Miami, in the Atlantic Ocean. Vacations here are popular with both U.S. residents and travelers from around the world. Having been here, I want to share with you my travel notes
How to get there
The islands have the only airport in the city of Key West. There are no direct flights from Moscow. Possible routes for Russians flying from Moscow:
- via Miami;
- Via any other city in Europe or the USA.
During the high season there are direct flights from Moscow to Miami, then one connection is required. But more often it’s two connections. I would recommend taking the Moscow-London-Miami-Ky West route as the least expensive option. Already on the way to the airport you can see Florida Keys on the map – an elongated chain of big and small islands to the south of Miami. If you descend down, the views are spectacular – emerald blue ocean, bright lush tropical vegetation, and dazzling white sand.
Important: Key West and the other islands of the Florida Keys can also be reached by car. Most of the islands are connected to Florida and to each other by a throughway and bridges.
The road, in itself, is a major attraction with mesmerizing island and seascapes. There are 42 bridges of different architecture on the 180 kilometers of the route.
Another way for tourists to visit the archipelago is by sea, on a special cruise liner.
The islands of the Florida Keys are of coral origin. It used to be inhabited by Indians, who lived quietly until the 16th century, before the arrival of Spanish navigators. They did not linger on the islands, but they brought with them terrible diseases. The local population, who had no immunity, all died out. After some time in the archipelago of the Florida Keys have appeared already white people, and with the construction of a bridge linking with the mainland has boomed tourism.
Types of recreation on the islands
The islands are attractive because of their carefully protected nature and the recreation activities associated with it:
- beach vacation;
- visiting national parks.
For lovers of pristine nature, I recommend visiting Dry Tortugas National Park, which consists of a group of coral reefs. There are boats going there, there is no car connection. Fishing, hunting is strictly prohibited here. The corals must be treated with care, it is strictly forbidden to destroy them. This area has sunk many ships because of the shallow water and strong currents.
There is also a historical attraction here – Fort Jefferson, a massive fortress founded to fight piracy. Divers will find amazing underwater landscapes with an abundance of fish and sea animals in the intricate intricacies of coral.
Important: The best time to visit Dry Tortugas is from November to April.
The diving capital is considered the island of Key Largo. This must go here as well for fans of fishing, where they will be offered a very interesting tuna fishing in the open sea. Scuba divers here will discover the statue of Christ in bronze, which produces a fabulous impression. Equally breathtaking is the view of an English warship from the last world war. In the numerous restaurants you can eat fresh fish and seafood.
Fishing tourists are engaged in other islands. In addition to surface fishing on Maraton Island, lobster diving is popular.
I really like the beaches at Dry Tortugas Park, but many people prefer beach vacations on Key West Island because of the large number of activities, soft white sand, and rich vegetation. There are volleyball courts, tennis courts, golf courses. Those who do not want to go scuba diving, are offered walks on a boat with a transparent bottom on the coral reef. The clearest water allows you to contemplate the underwater world without diving.
Key West is the vacation spot of many rich and famous people. Artists organize exhibitions of their works, the local theater is open. In Key West you can visit the Hemingway Museum and other cultural attractions.
Important: Hotels in Key West is quite expensive, especially during the Christmas season and up to April. The cheapest option is camping. You can rent an apartment, the price depends on the quality of housing.
In the archipelago of the Florida Keys you can enjoy the unique nature and modern level of comfort, dive into a bright underwater world and experience the excitement of fishing, laze on the soft sand and dip into the gentle waves of the sea.