A 33-mile stretch of natural wonders, Key Largo offers an excellent introduction to the Florida Keys with its colorful coral reefs, glass bottom boat tours and delectable seafood offerings. John Pennekamp State Park is its biggest attraction with its excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, while simply kicking back and gazing at the sunset views with a fruity cocktail is perfectly acceptable too.
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The first and most easily accessible of all the Florida Keys only about 60 miles from downtown Miami, Key Largo will put you in the right state of mind. Whether diving deep to marvel at the iconic “Christ of the Deep” statue underwater or want to try out paddle boarding or parasailing, this area is a small piece of paradise in the Sunshine State.
Don’t miss a visit to John Pennekamp State Park, where you can enjoy a day of kayaking, snorkeling and diving, while families will delight at the colorful underwater display on a glass-bottom boat tour. Snorkel enthusiasts can also head to Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary to see its 190 square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove estuaries, where plenty of dive companies are more than happy to show you around.
Fishing is another popular activity, as Key Largo and the Upper Keys have been the location where many world records have been broken in the waters. Sign up for a day trip with one of the charter companies and see if you can reel in a big one or catch the elusive bonefish, also known as the “ghost fish”.
If you prefer to explore on solid ground, Key Largo’s local restaurants will cook up your catch or prepare their own seafood dishes, with Harriette’s Restaurant, The Fish House and Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen being some of the local favorites. Adventurous eaters can try everything on the menu, including cracked conch, spiny lobster and stone crab, and it wouldn’t be a proper Florida Keys adventure without a slice of key lime pie.
If you’re traveling with the family, head to the Dolphin Research Center to learn about Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Take a self-guided tour along the trails in Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park or learn about rehabilitated birds at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center.
Skip the cookie cutter hotel and have an overnight underwater adventure at Jules Undersea Lodge. You’ll feel like a mermaid at the only underwater hotel in the world, where you have to scuba dive 21 feet to the entrance. You’re then rewarded with views of brightly colored reef fish such as angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers from the windows of the hotel.