The Florida Keys, known by locals as The Keys, are a string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern coast of Florida forming the southernmost portion of the continental United States. The Florida Keys were formed during the ice age, when sea level dropped, exposing coral reefs and sand bars which fossilized over time to form the rock that makes up the island chain today. The Keys feature over 1,700 islands with very few populated and only 43 connected by bridge.
The Florida Keys were originally inhabited by Calusa and Tequesta Native Americans and later found and charted by Juan Ponce de León in 1513. The Keys were long accessible only by water. This changed with the completion of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railway in the early 1910’s which extended rail line all the way to Key West with some of the original trestles still visible today.
After the destruction of the Keys railway by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the railroad bridges, including the Seven Mile Bridge, were converted to automobile roadways. This roadway, U.S. Highway 1, became the Overseas Highway that runs from Key Largo south to Key West.
Often referred to as the American Caribbean, The Keys features all the same amenities as other island destinations such as world-class fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling, boating, sailing, kayaking and eco-tours. Some of the area’s most popular destinations for enjoying the outdoors include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Bahia Honda State Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Dolphin Research Center and the National Key Deer Refuge.
Whether you are staying in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key or Key West some of the best diving and fishing charters in the world are close by. After Sunset, the Florida Keys include some of the best restaurants in the United States featuring the freshest seafood imaginable.
Key West is known for its robust nightlife with many great bars and live music along Duval Street. Key West also hosts Hemingway Days and FantasyFest as highlighted events each year with a robust arts scene featuring live theatre, music and many art galleries and exhibits. Outdoor splendor, world-class fishing and diving and vibrant nightlife. Whatever your taste, a Florida Keys vacation has something for everyone.