Florida Keys Islands vacations
The U.S. is full of places to enjoy great vacations and getaways, 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 United States.
During high season direct flights from Moscow to Miami take only one connection. But more often it is 2 connections. I would recommend flying Moscow-London-Miami-Qi West 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 attract with their carefully preserved nature and associated recreation activities:
- 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 capital of diving is the island of Key Largo. Fans of fishing must also go here, where they will be offered the most 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 over the coral reef. The clearest water allows you to contemplate the underwater world without diving.
Key West is a vacation spot for many rich and famous people. Artists arrange exhibitions of their works, the local theater is open. You can visit the Hemingway Museum and other cultural attractions in Key West.
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 a 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.
Florida Keys Archipelago
Everyone who wants to sunbathe in the hot sun, of course, chooses Florida, but the Florida Keys archipelago deserves special attention. It consists of about 1700 reef islands of different sizes. This is a true paradise for tourists and the islanders themselves. Nature filled with tropical romance attracts here not only travelers, but also creative personalities.
A bit of history
Originally, the islands were unnoticed, but over time, the Spanish conquistadors got here too. There was nothing to eat here, but the very coming of the whites with diseases unknown to the Indians led to their gradual extinction. For a time the broths were left lifeless. As the Americas were settled, settlers made their way here as well. The tourist discovery of the Florida Keys was not until the twentieth century.
Tycoon and billionaire Henry Flagler built the first bridge with his own money. It connected the largest island of Key West to the Florida Peninsula. Now most of the islands are already connected by a single through chain of roads and bridges. Even the most remote corner of the archipelago can be reached by car.
The roads that call.
To visit the islets of the Florida Keys and not scuba dive is to miss out on the highlight of your life. Hundreds of species of fish and other marine life, colorful coral reefs. Many shipwrecks from different eras are available for tourists to see. The bright underwater world fascinates with its beauty and unhurried grace.
Just a few minutes by boat from the shore, and you are in the wonderful world of marine nature. The dive is always accompanied by experienced instructors, who will conduct a full preliminary training.
Perfect conditions for diving on Marathon Island. Drivers have an unforgettable experience swimming under the coral bridge. The six groups represent different types of coral. All of them are at shallow depths. Just snorkeling without using a scuba diver is enough. Yellow Rocks is an entire coral canyon where you can see lobsters. These places are terrific for your first diving experience.
John Pennekamp National Park in Key Largo
Key Largo is one of the largest islands of the Florida Keys. At the beginning of the 20th century, the coral reef was in serious danger of extinction. A handful of activists stood up to protect it. It is thanks to them that we can now enjoy the majesty of the underwater kingdom.
In the 50’s the effort was successful and the reef was taken under the protection of the U.S. government.
Now the place has become popular with tourists. It is not only divers who can see the underwater world. Those who are afraid of diving can admire the view by taking a ride on a boat with a transparent bottom. For history buffs, there is a reconstruction of a medieval Spanish shipwreck. Off Key Largo Island is one of three underwater statues, “Christ of the Abyss” by sculptor Guido. Divers can view an English World War II warship.
Outdoor camping sites are provided for visitors to the park. Given the resort’s popularity, it’s best to make reservations in advance; if you don’t, you’ll likely have to wait for a free spot. The beaches are open 24 hours a day, you can swim in peace right under the moon and enjoy the fresh night air.
Bahia Honda Park.
Like the other islands, it is connected to the outside world by a sea bridge. Bahia Honda Beach is considered one of the best in the world. It is the southernmost island with the warmest and mildest climate, close to tropical. Crystal clear water, sand with a subtle color of coffee and milk, bright corals – all this sets up for a full holiday. Deep water starts very close to the shore, which gives huge space to divers.
Spring is the most beautiful time of the year. Subtropical flowers and plants begin to bloom. Along the perimeter of the park sprouted full-fledged jungle with palms and vines. In the thickets you can find tiger lily, sea lavender, laurel cedar. All these tropical plants got here with the help of migrating birds, hurricanes and sea waves.
Blue herons, gulls, and pelicans are among the birdlife here.
Vacationers can enjoy scuba diving or snorkeling to admire the surrounding reefs. Lovers of a more relaxed vacation are invited to kayak and view the island’s landscape from the sea. Fishermen are offered a lot of places to fish, but underwater hunting is prohibited by law here.
Most people prefer to camp overnight. For more demanding clients there are cottages. You won’t find a TV or radio here, but you don’t need one in this tropical paradise.
Lu Kee National Marine Sanctuary
Lu Kee is not really an island. It is just a ridge of coral reef protruding to the surface. It is directed from the Atlantic Ocean to the archipelago of the Florida Keys. Lu Keys got its name from a shipwrecked in the mid-18th century. While towing a captured French ship, the sailors did not notice the reef and from the impact the ship caught fire. The spoils of war perished with it. Divers are still finding small fragments of those ships, the main part burned up during the wreck.
Because of its unique U-shape and the presence of several levels, this place is very popular among divers. There really is a lot to see here. About 150 species of sea fish, including sea angel, parrot fish, barracuda, moray eel. Lucky ones may meet an electric ray or a shark. About 50 species of coral, a variety of colors and shapes can be seen here.
Not far from the reef lies the sunken ship Adolphus Busch. Experienced divers can see the ship from the inside. Large openings allow them to do so. Lou Kee is a national park, so, sea hunting is forbidden here, shells and oysters are not to be touched either. You can’t take a piece of coral as a souvenir from here.
Big Pine Key
The lower islands of the Florida Keys are a paradise for lovers of seclusion. There are no big malls or big restaurants here, but there is a lot of water. If you look in the distance, it becomes unclear where the sea ends and the sky begins. You can stay in a small comfortable hotel or camping site. Driving over the bridge to this island, you should not be in a hurry. Allow yourself to enjoy the view from the window, it is worthy of admiration.
The natural environment here is endemic. Such animals and plants do not exist anywhere else in the world. Especially protected are the island deer. Due to the fact that animals often fall under the wheels of cars, the speed limit here was made lower than elsewhere. But passing on the road, there is a high probability of meeting these unique creatures.
Big Pine Key is a beach island. They come here for peace and inspiration. Sun, sand and boundless sea surface. But thrill-seekers will find them here, too. At a small airport you can hire an airplane and admire the nature from a bird’s eye view. The most daring are offered a parachute jump. Another attraction is a huge blimp, which is used to monitor the island. The locals affectionately call it “Fat Albert”.
Ailamorada is one of the Florida Keys’ most popular spots. It is a chain consisting of six islands. You can get here, as in other parts of the archipelago, using the bridge. The first settlers here were the Spaniards. On the reef the ships were often wrecked, some of the survivors managed to swim to land. It was they who became the founders of the colony.
Giant lobster statue
These islands are considered the best for fishing. It has even been called the sport fishing capital of the world. All the necessary equipment is sold in local stores. Some people prefer independent fishing. They rent a boat and go in search of adventure. Those who are new here, it is better to use the services of professionals. They will be happy to show you the most fishy places, and your hunting instinct will be fully satisfied.
In addition to fishing, there are wonderful beaches, restaurants with sea food and everything you need for outdoor activities. The Florida Keys are an ideal place to relax and recuperate. The sandy beaches and seascapes promote relaxation and peace of mind.