Exploring the Upper Keys: Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon
The spectacular Florida Keys lie just off the southern tip of Florida, and while much attention is given to fabled Key West at the southernmost point of the United States, there are so many adventures and wonderful attractions awaiting in the Upper Keys including the holiday destinations of Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon.
Undersea Adventures in Key Largo
The northernmost and longest of the keys, Key Largo is known as the Dive Capital of the World because of its clear blue waters and amazing marine wildlife.
I was very lucky to visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the U.S., where the coral reef is one of the most popular spots to explore. Kayaking and canoeing are great sports here, as is fishing in designated areas. To view the only living coral reef in the continental United States, you can join one of the popular glass-bottom boat tours to view the reef. But trust me, it’s better to get up close and personal by snorkelling or diving this breathtaking underwater environment. In turquoise waters I have only seen in the Caribbean, we spotted a very large grouper and swarms of colourful fish.
The Magic Isle of Islamorada
Islamorada gets its name from the stunning sunsets that streak across its skies. I was lucky to witness one of these special nights while enjoying waterside dining at Morada Bay, where I dined on succulent steak and toasted the day with a glass of sparkling wine.
The Theater of the Sea in Islamorada is a popular marine park where you can swim with dolphins and sea lions, meet sea turtles and watch parrot shows. Another must-stop is at Robbie’s Marina, where you can hand-feed tarpon right off the dock. Hikers will really enjoy a stroll the scenery of Long Key State Park; climb to the top of the observation tower to get a panoramic view of just how beautiful this spot is.
Beyond these attractions, you cannot overlook the incredible amount of fishing charters available in Islamorada. In fact, Islamorada is known as the Sport-Fishing Capital of the World. Anglers will no doubt have a blast here.
Comprised of several smaller keys, Marathon is a family-oriented stretch of Florida beauty where you’ll find the iconic Seven Mile Bridge. Be sure to stop at the museum on Pigeon Key that will give you the history of the Overseas Railway construction and the workers who lived there. In Marathon, I visited the incredible Dolphin Research Center as well as the Turtle Hospital, both of which were remarkable eco-attractions perfect for families and animal lovers.
With so much to do and experience, you will love visiting the Upper Florida Keys.