The Florida Keys are all about beautiful sunshiny days and fantastic water adventures. This gorgeous string of islands with sandy beaches is surrounded by warm, turquoise blue waters. It is the perfect getaway spot to discover nature’s special marine life.
Whether you’re looking for an on-the-water or in-the-water experience, you will find plenty of options in the Keys. Below we have focused on two areas: Key West and Islamorada. Key West is about a four-hour drive from Miami International Airport. Islamorada is the perfect halfway point about two hours from both Miami International Airport and Key West. Book-ending your Key West trip with a day or two on each end in Islamorada will break up your driving, making for a more relaxing getaway. Of course, if you can fly into Key West, then spending time in some of the lesser-known keys will give you an authentic feel for the keys as a whole.
Ecotourism is important in Florida and particularly in the Keys. You will find adventure-delivering companies take great care not to disturb the natural environment while providing an exciting outing to their guests. So grab your snorkel and let’s go.
Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Sunset Sail, Key West
The When And If is a 1939 schooner designed by Naval Architect John Alden for General George S. Patton. Patton’s goal was to sail her around the world. Although the General never had the opportunity to do so, you can enjoy a sunset sail on this magnificent old boat. You can kick back and enjoy the ride, or give the crew a hand hoisting the sails; either way, you will be treated to an adventure few people have experienced.
From Thanksgiving to Memorial Day, you can enjoy the peace and relaxation of this historic sailing vessel as it slips through the waters and you are treated to one of the most breathtaking sunsets with Sunset Sail Key West. The crew then sails the When And If up to Salem, Massachusetts, for a summer stint of sails with Sunset Sail Salem.
Pro Tip: If you plan to visit Salem, you will find lots of great information in Boston Day Trip: Salem, Massachusetts to help you plan your visit.
2. Private Charter, Key West
Jimmy Buffett blaring on the speakers, perfectly crafted pina coladas chilling in your hand, an array of seafood dining options, all the water toys you need, and a captain who knows where to drop anchor at the best spots for having a blast. Sometimes it just makes sense to book a private charter. An exclusive adventure that you can customize to fit your vacation expectations perfectly.
Sebago Water Sports offers an extensive list of options that will work for everything from a romantic sunset sail to a family reunion snorkel expedition. Imagine a glorious day at sea snorkeling with your extended family and friends — one big water party.
Pro Tip: Sebago Water Sports offers a variety of tours including snorkeling, parasailing, and eco tours where you can join the general public for some fun on and in the water.
3. Kayaking Key West
Get outside of the city and explore the backcountry of Key West. Key West Eco Tours offers a guided kayak tour through the local mangrove forests. Their small group tours are led by experienced naturalists who are trained at spotting local wildlife hidden amongst the mangroves and sea grasses.
As you paddle through the densely shaded mangroves, it seems a world away from the lively bustle of Key West. The soft lapping of the water is punctuated by the sounds of families of birds and other wildlife. You may see dolphins playing in the wake and turtles close enough to touch as they swim by. Birds love the tree canopy and tall grasses. It is the ideal spot for feeding and nesting. The brilliantly colored, tropical birds sometimes pose long enough for a picture perfect moment.
Pro Tip: Key West Eco Tours provides bags to keep your phone dry. It’s always a good idea to have your phone with you for photos, but protected from the elements.
4. Parasailing Key West
There is nothing like the feeling of flying high above the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Florida Keys. Fury Water Adventures provides you the opportunity to experience expansive breathtaking views of the ocean and coastline while being towed along behind its parasailing boat. Float up in groups of two or three to share the thrill with your vacation besties.
Pro Tip: You can add a little touch and go action to your sail. Request a water dip midway through your ride.
5. Jet Ski Key West
Feel the need for speed? Jump on a Waverunner and circumnavigate Key West while captaining your own vessel. Barefoot Billy’s offers up a variety of jet ski tours that take you completely around the island. Enjoy a few stops along the route for a dip in the refreshing water and some interesting history about Key West.
Pro Tip: Leave your valuables in the hotel safe or hidden away in your locked car. Whatever you bring with you is guaranteed to get wet.
6. Snorkel Islamorada
At the end of a long sandy beach is an open air tropical beach hut where you will find the Islander Girls Snorkel & Tours headquarters. Out on the boat, you will be whisked away to the perfect snorkeling spot for an hour of floating above brightly colored fish and interesting coral formations.
After loosening your flippers and finding your legs, enjoy a glass of Islander Girl Rum Punch and share fish stories with your fellow guests as your captain guides the boat back to the dock.
Pro Tip: Island Girls Snorkel is located on the beach at the Islander Resort, a gorgeous tropical beach resort with spectacular amenities. Stop by the beach side bar for a nibble and a beverage post snorkel.
7. Deep Sea Fishing Islamorada
Islamorada is known for its excellent deep sea fishing fleets. At Bud N Mary’s Marina, you will find a diverse selection of full and half day fishing charter options. Anglers can hunt for sailfish, marlin, tuna, swordfish, sharks, wahoos, and more. Offshore fishing in the gorgeous blue waters surrounding the Keys is a perfect fishing day where the big one may not actually get away.
Pro Tip: If you have your own fishing boat, stay at the Fisher Inn Resort. They offer a boat launch on site, so you can stay and play.
8. Scuba Diving Islamorada
Diving below the surface takes knowledge and skill. The Islamorada Dive Center offers a Discover Scuba Course where you are trained in equipment use and safety while in the confines of a pool. After training, you get to experience diving at a shallow reef. If you have always wanted to try scuba diving, taking the discovery course is the perfect introduction to the sport.
Of course, Islamorada Dive Center offers advanced training, rentals, and information about all the best local dive sites. If you are traveling with a diver but don’t want to get wet, join in the fun as a “bubble watcher” and hang out topside.
Pro Tip: Diving enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the History of Diving Museum, where you can view a collection of dive helmets, gear, and other dive memorabilia.
9. Theater Of The Sea, Islamorada
Have you ever wanted to swim with dolphins, sea lions, or even sharks? At the Theater of the Sea you can interact with a wide variety of animals. It offers a selection of programs where you can meet and greet, wade with, or even swim with its animals.
Many of the residents have been rescued and for a variety of reasons are not capable of being released back into the wild. Turtles like Jahna, who is blind, live safely with the help of the staff at Theater of the Sea.
Pro Tip: This is a very popular destination. Be sure to make your reservations early.
Time To Fly Away
Don’t let your getaway plans sink! When planning your best Keys adventures, either on the water or dry land, visit the Florida Keys & Key West resource site at www.fla-keys.com. You will discover everything you need to know about planning your getaway to this beautiful tropical paradise. Check out their live webcams for a peek into what you are missing.