With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the spectacular Florida Keys lie just off the southern tip of Florida.
The tropical weather is perfectly warm, with a slight cooling breeze that makes being outside all day a pleasure. Enjoy the Florida Keys on your next holiday – from snorkeling, dining, relaxing and playing with dolphins, to turtles and sea lions and the famous sunset in Key West.
Never-ending Outdoor 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, where the coral reef is one of the most popular spots to snorkel or dive. In turquoise waters I have only seen in the Caribbean, we spotted a very large grouper and swarms of colorful fish.
The Magic Isle of Islamorada
Islamorada, which means “purple island” in Spanish, 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 ate a succulent steak and toasted the day with a glass of sparkling wine.
The Theater of the Sea in Islamorada is an attractive marine park, where you can swim with dolphins and sea lions, meet sea turtles and watch parrot shows. I chose to swim with the sea lions and had an amazing time playing with and even hugging a friendly 27-year-old sea lion named Mimi.
Dolphins and Turtles in Marathon
In Marathon, I visited the incredible Dolphin Research Center, the first center to demonstrate that dolphins can understand numerical concepts. The care that is taken with all of their animals is very apparent. My interaction session with the dolphins, where I got to signal them to do certain tricks, high-five and play with them, was a highlight of my trip.
At the Turtle Hospital, I met several turtles; some will be there for a long time, and others will be released into the wild after recovering from their illnesses. If you love animals, stop here to find out how you can help keep sea turtles alive, healthy and thriving.
Picturesque Parks and Snorkeling Living Reefs
As we moved along to the lower Florida Keys, we discovered Big Pine Key with its brilliant Bahia Honda State Park. The camping, cycling, fishing, kayaking and fantastic beach, which is rated one of the top beaches in the world, make this a must-see. We also took a boat trip to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, where we snorkeled at one of America’s few living coral reefs.
Lively and Beautiful Key West
The last stop on our journey was Key West, which has a huge variety of underwater and outdoor recreational activities, including Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The perfect end to my trip was attending the Mallory Square sunset celebration, a nightly celebration filled with street artists and exhibitors, eclectic music and happy faces.
With so much to do and experience, you will love visiting the Florida Keys.