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back, easy going and the allure of natural
It’s hard to tell whether the Florida Keys are part of the United States, or another country in the Caribbean sea – the Florida Keys and Key West are just so out of this world that it’s hard to be sure exactly where you are. There is a sense of the renegade spirit among the locals – it was only half in jest when the keys declared their independence from the US and formed the Conch Republic to protest drug interdiction road blocks on US1. Key West is also called the Southernmost City, and Caya Hueso, the Spanish name for the Island. Yet another name is Bone Island - for the native America human remains found here when the Spanish came.
But wherever you think you are, if you’ve arrived in the keys, you joined others who love the area for all the warm watersports – world class fishing, snorkeling and diving – kayaking, sailing, swimming, dolphin encounters – anything to get on the water.
The water is truly the main attraction – and it’s protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary from Key Largo through the fabled Fort Jefferson National Park in the Dry Tortugas – some 70 miles west of Key West. Underwater sightseers will find plentiful sea life – colorful tropicals, game fish, turtles, conch, sea fans and manta rays abound.
Keys Vacation Rentals
If you would be more comfortable in a house rather than a hotel room, Key West and the Florida Keys offer many excellent choices for vacation rental homes:
West Group and Corporate Incentive Travel
Florida Keys & Key West Accommodations:
Are you a history buff? Stay in one of the island's earliest historic family estates, The Conch House. This luxurious mansion in the heart of Old Town Key West was restored to its original elegance in 1993. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lovely inn truly embodies the distinctive character of Key West architecture.
The Islands of Marathon & KCB
The crown jewels of the middle keys, Marathon and Key Colony Beach, are blessed by an abundance of attractions - several nature centers and natural history museums, and lots of choices in accommodations – from small mom and pop operations to elegant vacation rentals. Marathon is also home to the the World Famous Seven Mile Bridge. It’s the longest of the 42 bridges that connect the island chain to the mainland – called the Overseas Highway, this portion of US 1 has been touted as a top ten scenic drive in many travel guides. If you are lucky enough to arrive around sunset, stop on the Marathon side of the bridge or any time.
From there you can walk along the old highway – a part of the original railroad that first connected the keys. Built in 1905 and completed in 1912 by Henry Flagler, 35 or 40 miles of track were washed out in the Hurricane of 1935 (hurricanes were not named then).
You can walk the old bridge all the way out to Pigeon Key, a small island that was once home to the railroad workers. Many of the original buildings still stand and the island is now used by scientists studying the marine life of the keys and visited by tourists. You can also get out there by trolley from Knight Key. From the bridge you are able to spot rays, turtles, and an occasional shark - maybe even a hammerhead.
The Lower Keys
other side of the 7 mile bridge (which is really only 6.7 miles) lies
the lower keys – and another bridge of note – Bahia Honda
Bridge – perhaps the most photographed bridge in the keys. It is
also the anchor for Bahia Honday State Park – an area of lovely
beaches (most of which cannot be seen from the highway – protected
swimming and sailboat anchorage and a great jumping off point to diving
Looe Key, the coral jewel of the lower keys.
A few miles west is Big Pine Key, the most unspoiled of all the keys – and the second largest at roughly 3 by 6 miles - only Key Largo is larger. The government or the Nature Conservancy owns most of the land, so despite a commercial corridor of dive shops, restaurants and other conveniences, Big Pine retains the flavor of the early keys life. The island owes its protection to the diminutive Key Deer, a sub-species of the North American White Tailed Deer that is endemic to the lower keys. It was hunted nearly to extinction and in the 1950s a man named Watson sought successfully to protect the deer.
Bertram Yacht & Boat Parts - Located in Marathon, High Tide Marine offers hard to find replacement parts for Bertram Yacht repair.
in Key West - Hotelsvauled provides online reservations for
Key West hotels, especially the cheap and discount hotels in Key West.
You don’t have to snorkel the reef or even get wet to see the sea creatures of the Florida Keys – you can feed the giant tarpon right from the docks at Robbie’s in Islamorada, visit the Key West Aquarium, or take one of Fury Cat’s glass bottom boat tours.
Island Eco Tour/Dolphin Encounter/Snorkel | Fishing Charters | Information about Wild Dolphins
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Photo Gallery: Captain Seaweed Dolphin Swims | More Dolphin Swim Photos
Family Fun for Kids in Key West | Dolphins Swim Off Key West | Fishing with Captain Donna
Captain's Day Off - Donna's Friends | Captain Seaweed, Our Canine Seafarer | More Photos of Seaweed
Dolphin Swimming | Island Life | Dolphin Information | Key West Information
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