Experiences unique to the Florida Keys
By Jessica Pook
Extending from the southern tip of Florida, the Florida Keys offer a great alternative for those looking for an island-hopping adventure with a difference.
Drive the Overseas Highway
The Florida Keys Overseas Highway is the southernmost leg of the iconic U.S. Highway 1, stretching 113 miles. Drivers can leave Miami and arrive in Key West in under four hours, but with views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the shimmering Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, it’s not a drive you want to rush. A highlight is timing a sunset drive over the landmark Seven Mile Bridge.
Tour the home of legends
Writer Ernest Hemingway and former president Harry Truman both made Key West their home, and today visitors can tour those spots. Truman spent six months of his presidency in his ‘Little White House’ which displays his original piano and poker table. Equally fascinating is the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, where the author produced works including To Have and Have Not, inspired by his Key West surroundings.
Take a ‘southernmost selfie’
What better way to mark the Southernmost Point of the continental USA than with a #southernmostselfie? Every day visitors line up at Whitehead and South streets in Key West to have their photo taken beside this colourful marker. No need for a filter as the Atlantic Ocean makes for an Instagrammable backdrop. This bright beacon also reminds visitors that they stand just 90 miles from Cuba.
Snorkel or dive Florida’s barrier reef
The Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental USA. Divers and snorkellers can swim amongst coral, tropical fish and even sunken ships! The official Florida Keys Wreck Trek logbook lists nine of the region’s most iconic wreck sites, including two of the largest wrecks intentionally sunk as artificial reefs. Dive and snorkel operators from Key Largo to Key West offer excursions led by experts.
Take part in a Keys festival
Florida Keys folks know how to throw a party – and the more unique the better! The 10-day Fantasy Fest takes place every October with costume contests and masquerade balls. Thought you couldn’t have a festival underwater? Think again. Every July the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival shines a spotlight on coral reef protection with a sub-sea concert staged by local radio station US1 FM.
‘Hook and cook’ in Islamorada
Book a charter captain or guide in Islamorada, known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, for a day spent offshore, reef or backcountry fishing. Saltwater fishing is a Keys speciality and clients can even take their catch (most likely yellowtail snapper or tuna), to a restaurant nearby to have it cooked fresh.
Learn more and become a Florida Keys & Key West specialist at fla-keysen.experttraining.eu.