Florida Keys

Why Florida Keys?

Accommodations

Throughout the Keys, you’ll find a range of accommodations, from luxury villas and resorts to more affordable, family-friendly beachfront hotels and private homes, which may be available for rent. Campsites are also available.

Where I’ve stayed

Key Lime Inn, Key West, one of six historic inns in the center of Old Town, two blocks from Duval Street.

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Key Lime Inn (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Faro Blanco Resort and Yacht Club, Marathon, 125 rooms & suites, 74-slip marina, at the site of a 1950s historic lighthouse.

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Faro Blanco Lighthouse (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Amara Cay Resort, a 110 suite beachfront resort in Islamorada.

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Amara Cay Resort (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key (near Marathon), 177 rooms & suites, 2, 3 and 4-bedroom villas, includes a full-service marina, four restaurants, saltwater lagoon, five swimming pools, kids and teen club, and spa.

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(Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay Resort)

Activities

Boating, fishing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, standup paddleboarding (SUP), golf, tennis, spa, dining, and nightlife. At Hawks Cay Resort, have a special encounter with dolphins at its Dolphin Connection.

Beaches

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Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park beach, Key West (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

One of the best beaches in the Florida Keys is Bahia Honda State Park and Beach, located 30 minutes north of Key West and about the same distance from Marathon. While most of the Florida Keys are not known for their white sandy beaches, there are sandy strands throughout the Keys. One of the few sandy Atlantic beaches in the Florida Keys is located on the eastern end of Marathon on the island of Coco Plum. In Key West, there are small beaches; a beautiful one is within Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Check out this link for more information on Florida Keys beaches: http://www.keystravel.com/Beaches.html

Food and Drink

Key lime pie

Key Lime pie (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Fresh fish and seafood caught from local waters tops most menus, prepared with flair by Florida chefs. Hogfish is a specialty. Various versions of Key Lime pie can be tasted throughout the Keys. Locally brewed beers are available in some locations.

 

 

Getting There

Drive, fly or take a Greyhound bus to the Keys from mainland Florida. Ferry service to Key West is offered from Ft. Myers and Marco Island. Many visitors fly into Miami (MIA), then rent a car to drive to the Keys. Air shuttle service by helicopter or airplane is available to and from Key West and Marathon from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Naples (APF), Ft. Myers Southwest (RSW), Tampa (TPA), Orlando (MCO), St. Petersburg/Clearwater (PIE) and Atlanta (ATL). Direct flights to Key West International Airport (EYW) are available on several airlines, including (but not inclusive of) American Airlines from Charlotte (CTL) and Miami (MIA), and Delta from Atlanta (ATL).

Location

The Florida Keys are the southernmost tropical islands in Florida. The Keys extend south and west of the Homestead area of Florida, close to Miami. The Florida Keys span some 110 miles and are connected by bridges and causeways. The Keys are often referred to by region, including (from north to south) Key Largo and the Upper Keys, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys, and Key West.

Vibe

The Florida Keys are often referred to as the American Caribbean for good reason. The relaxed, laid-back lifestyle synonymous with Caribbean islands exists here, too, ready to enjoy within our own country.

 

If you go, don’t miss:

• In Key West, take the hop-on, hop-off bus to visit attractions at 13 stops.

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Hop on Hop off bus (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

• Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Take the half-hour narrated tour to learn about the author’s life and times spent in Key West during the 1930s.

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Hemingway House and Museum (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

• Climb 88 steps to the top of the Key West Lighthouse, built in 1825, for panoramic views.

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Key West Lighthouse (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

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Custom House (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

 • Opened in 1891 as the island’s customs office, postal service, and district court, the Custom House is now a museum and headquarters of the Key West Art & Historical Society.

• At Mile Marker 0 is the oversized buoy that is the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. While Miami is 150 miles north, from here it is only “90 miles to Cuba.”

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Southernmost Point (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Visit Bahia Honda State Park and Beach, across the Seven Mile Bridge in the Big Pine Key/Lower Keys region, located at Mile Marker 37. The park, encompassing over 500 acres, is great for snorkeling and beachcombing.

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Bahia Honda State Park and Beach (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

• Try a two-hour yoga and meditation session on paddleboards with Serenity Eco Therapy at the park’s Loggerhead Beach.

Paddleboard yoga with Serenity Eco Therapy (Photo: Yvette Cardoza)

Paddleboard yoga with Serenity Eco Therapy (Photo: Yvette Cardoza)

• Take a tour of The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, where more than 1,500 sea turtles have been treated and released since opening in 1986.

The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida

The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

• Spend a half-day party boat fishing at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada, considered to be the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World,” )

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At Hawks Cay Resort, book an encounter with dolphins at the on-site Dolphin Connection, the only dolphin research facility in the U.S.

Dolphin Connection, Hawks Cay Resort, Florida Keys

Dolphin Connection, Hawks Cay Resort, Florida Keys (© Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, America’s first underwater state park, located in Key Largo. Besides snorkeling and scuba diving, visitors can take glass bottom boat rides, go canoeing or kayaking, and swimming. There is a 30,000 gallon salt water aquarium at the visitor center.

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Glass bottom boat ride at John Pennekamp State Park (Photo: Debbra Dunning Brouillette)

Published article on Florida Keys

Cruisin’ through the Florida Keys

From Key West to Key Largo

If your idea of the perfect vacation is to be on, in or under the multi-hued turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, tag along with me as I cruise through the Florida Keys, the continental U.S.’s southernmost island chain, from bottom to top — Key West to Key Largo, sampling water-based activities along the way.

As soon as I stepped off the plane at Key West’s International Airport, I sensed a different vibe. The “Welcome to the Conch Republic” sign on the terminal building, larger and more prominent than “Welcome to Key West,” was my first clue that the city’s reputation for being a bit unconventional was well-deserved. (more)

Read the online version of the article, “Cruisin’ Through the Florida Keys,” which appeared in the September/October 2016 issue of Evansville Living magazine here:  http://www.evansvilleliving.com/articles/cruisin-through-the-florida-keys

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Published article on Florida Keys

Road Trippin’ through the Florida Keys: America’s Caribbean

My destination? The Florida Keys, the southernmost island chain in the continental U.S. My goal? To experience the best the Keys has to offer, from bottom to top. My focus? Activities on, around, and under the turquoise waters surrounding the Keys, with a smattering of history thrown into the mix, and, of course, sampling as many varieties of seafood and Key Lime pie as possible. Read the rest of my article on the Florida Keys, published in the Winter 2017 issue of Joseph Rosendo’s TravelScope e-magazine, by opening a PDF of the article hereTravelscope_Magazine_Winter_2017_RoadTrippinFloridaKeys

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Published article on Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida

Even the dolphins stay at Hawks Cay

A once-in-a-lifetime kiss by a 38- year-old male named Sebastian left me beaming, and my husband wasn’t even jealous. Sebastian is one of five bottlenose dolphins that are part of the Dolphin Connection at Hawks Cay Island Resort in the Florida Keys — the only resort in the continental U.S. that features a dolphin research facility.

Hands-on encounters with the dolphins in an ocean-fed saltwater lagoon require a brief orientation session before guests enter the water to interact with these incredible mammals. If you’d rather not get into the water, sign up for the dockside program or, for maximum exposure, become a “trainer for a day…”

Read the rest of my article on Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, Florida, published in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram newspaper, by opening a PDF of the article hereHawks Cay Florida Keys Article

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Check out Florida Keys on the Blog:
A look back at 2016 travels banner

A look back at 2016 travels: January – Sanibel Island, Florida

Debbra : January 8, 2017 4:08 pm : Beaches, Birding, Blog, Florida, Home news, Homepage, Sand and shell collecting, slider, Uncategorized

For those of us who love to travel, looking back at the memories we’ve made in places outside our home territory is a way to extend the pleasure of the experiences we’ve had. It also helps to reinvigorate the sense of wanderlust we feel for seeking out new destinations to explore in the year to come. I hope you’ll enjoy this retrospective of my travels in the past year.

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12 Comments »

Scuba diving on Looe Key Reef, Florida Keys: a sanctuary for sea life

Debbra : August 29, 2016 3:48 pm : Blog, Florida, Florida Keys, Home news, Homepage, Scuba diving and snorkeling, slider

Scuba diving to a soundtrack of tunes like Jimmy Buffet’s “Fins” and the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden” was a first for me. Typically, the only sounds I hear underwater are the sounds of my own breathing, in and out through the regulator, as I fin along the reef.

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22 Comments »
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Bird-lovers flock to Sanibel’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Debbra : February 27, 2016 11:41 am : Birding, Blog, Florida, Home news, Homepage, slider, Tropical Flora and Fauna, Uncategorized, wildlife
While Sanibel Island, Florida, is perhaps best known for its world-class shelling, it is also the location of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex — the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the U.S.  Covering over 6,400 acres, it attracts over 245 bird species and is famous worldwide for its spectacular migratory bird more »
3 Comments »

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14 Comments on “Florida Keys

  1. Great job with your travel blog Debbie! We visited my cousin in January at Marco Island and drove to Key West for a few days. Great time and ate key lime pie at every stop.

    • Thanks, Dan! I haven’t made it as far south as Key West yet but hope to do a driving tour of the whole area in the future. The Keys are definitely the place to have key lime pie!

  2. We have not been to Key West and reading this blog gives me a better feel for what it would be like. Thank you for taking us on a little vacation until we personally get to go!

    • Sharon… Thanks for your comment but I haven’t yet made it to Key West! 🙂 Hawks Cay Resort, where I stayed, is midway down at Duck Key, a little north of the Seven Mile Bridge. It is a fantastic resort and Key West is only about 60 miles away (about 1 hr. 20 min. drive), so you could easily stay at Hawks Cay and do a day trip there. What I would love to do next is spend a couple of nights at a few different resorts on the way down to Key West to get a feel for the entire Keys region.

      • I’ve updated the page since I made it to Key West and many other places in the Keys this summer! Hope you’ll enjoy checking it out!

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment! My recent visit was the first time I had traveled through the Keys from bottom to top, and it showed me how much there is to see and do in what many call “America’s Caribbean.”

  3. I’ve often wanted to visit the Florida Keys and not just for the Key Lime Pie ( although that is definitely a great reason). Hawks Cay resort looks gorgeous – I’ve heard lots of good feedback about it and your photos are gorgeous!

    • Yes, Hawks Cay is gorgeous, and so were Amara Cay in Islamorada and Faro Blanco with its picturesque lighthouse and marina setting in Marathon. There are so many wonderful places to stay throughout the Keys, and then, as you mention, there is the Key Lime pie..and all that fresh fish!

  4. I’ve never been to the Florida Keys, This post makes me want to change that soon. I’m sure I’d love the American Caribbean vibe.

  5. Have you been to Sombrero Beach? oops, maybe I should keep it my secret. 😀

    BTW, southernmost point in CONTINENTAL United States. The marker is correct.

    • No, we didn’t make it to Sombrero Beach, but I see that it is in Marathon. I’ll be sure to check it out on my next trip to the Keys! And, thanks for alerting me to my omission of “continental” in my caption. It is correctly stated in my article and now is correct above.

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