Florida Keys


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Florida Keys
MARATHON - A great sport-fishing centre, with all kinds of fishing on offer, including deep-sea fishing trips aboard charter boats. Several fishing tournaments held each year, including the Tarpon Tournament in May and the Shark Tournament in July. Sailing is popular, as well as scuba-diving and helicopter rides. A dolphin research centre (at mile marker 59) offers dolphin swims. A museum of natural history with coral reef and artefacts retrieved from shipwrecks. The small town of Marathon (on Vaca Key) has its own airport, with regular flights to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota and Naples. Two golf courses: a 9-hole public course and an 18-hole private one. Clusters of shops, bars and restaurants are dotted along the coast road. Daily shuttle buses go to Key West (about a 1-hr drive) and to Miami. A car is recommended.
ISLAMORADA - Islamorada town straddles the main road on Upper Matecumbe Key. It has a fair choice of bars and restaurants (the Holiday Isles complex is one of the liveliest spots for nightlife after Key West), but they are all spread out and so access to a car is definitely an asset. Like Marathon, it is a sport-fishing centre, with several annual fishing tournaments, including the Sailfish Tournament in December. Sailing, scuba-diving and para-sailing are popular; light aircraft are available. The Theater of the Sea has dolphin and sea-lion shows, a touch tank and a shark-feeding pool (dolphin swims available by advance reservation). The Airporter bus service from Miami airport stops at Islamorada, as does the Greyhound bus service from Miami to Key West. It is a 1½- to 2-hr drive from both Miami and Key West, about ½ hr from Marathon (and Marathon airport) and 20?30 mins from Key Largo. KEY LARGO - This is the first resort you reach when coming from Miami (approximately 1 to 1½ hrs' drive depending on traffic); it is the scuba-diving capital of the Keys and part of Florida Keys National Maritime Sanctuary. Several of the hotels are situated around the marina, within easy walking distance of each other and a selection of shops, bars and restaurants. Car hire is not an absolute essential here, although the resort is rather spread out along US Route 1. The Airporter bus service from Miami airport stops at Key Largo and Greyhound buses go to Key West. The most interesting attraction in the area is the 78-sq-ml John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park , America's first underwater national park; it has an unusual aquarium, nature trail through mangrove forests, beach, snorkelling and picnic areas as well as glass-bottomed boat trips out to the coral reef. For scuba-divers, the living coral reef is the place to explore. The Key Largo Undersea Park is a research/educational facility , with guided tours and snorkelling/diving opportunities, including the wreck of a Spanish galleon. Glass-bottomed boat trips are also popular.