Key West is a popular port of call during Caribbean cruises and a favorite land destination for those seeking a tropical isle accessible via car from the U.S. mainland. But did you know that there are 39 other populated isles that make up the Florida Keys? How fantastic is it to island hop via car???
Our tour of the Keys covers so many ways to experience the Florida Keys, the 5th U.S. Caribbean destination where you can visit without having to worry about the latest CDC testing for returning from international locations.
1. Key West. There are so many facets of Key West. What began as a sleepy hideaway for celebrities like Ernest Hemingway to escape, is now a bustling destination with well-developed tourist services. If you only have a few days to explore the Keys, fly into Miami, rent a car, and drive 3 ½ hours to Key West. Stay at one of a number of lodging choices ranging from resorts to cottage rentals. You’ll be in the southern-most point of the U.S…take the iconic pic next to the marker. Celebrate sunset on the docks in Mallory Square with the locals – a tradition not to be missed. Duval Street is for the night owls with its abundant bars. Contrast this with day visits to the Ernest Hemingway House and Audubon Tropical Gardens.
2. Three National Parks. If you have more time, plan at least three days to drive from Miami to Key West. Spend a couple of nights in Miami. For your first day, plan a visit to the Everglades National Park. Schedule a tour on one of the airboats – an experience itself with the flat bottom and huge fan propelling the boat across the swamps. You’ll see an abundance of wildlife to include crocodiles, manatees, sea turtles, and indigenous and migratory birds – over 350 species! On land there are hiking trails to get you closer to the beautiful foliage. Biscayne National Park is also accessible from Miami and would be a great choice for Day 2. Most of the action at this national park is underwater. The easiest way to access the underwater wonders is taking an organized tour from the main visitor center 35 miles south of Miami. You’ll marvel at the abundance of sea life, coral, and sea fans as you snorkel or dive through this National Park. Dry Tortugas is the third national park you’ll need to check out while in the Keys. A ferry from Key West will take you 68 miles west to this gem. This unique National Park is comprised of the former Fort Jefferson, a 19th century U.S. fortification above land, and an abundance of underwater sea life waiting to be discovered by snorkelers and divers. Camping is also offered in Dry Tortugas National Park.
3. The Middle Keys. Midway between Key Largo, the closest isle to Miami, and Key West is Marathon. It is here that you will find the best beach of the Keys, Sombrero Beach. It is the most developed isle with plentiful lodging options, a commercial airport, and other tourist services. Stay here a night on your way to Key West and enjoy the surrounding isles. Islamorada is noted for its wonderful seafood, and fishing village vibe. Feed large tarpon by hand on Robbie’s Pier. Nature trails and deep-sea fishing excursions are abundant here.
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