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Florida Keys Vacation

Updated on May 11, 2015

The Neptune Memorial Reef

Duck Key

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is a destination that everyone should come and visit at least once in their life. This area that sits at the bottom of Florida is a group of islands that lie along the Florida Straits which divides the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. At the farthest end which is called Key West is just ninety miles away from the coast of Cuba. Key West is the mostly populated Key which is also the county seat for Monroe County. The Florida Keys land area is roughly 137 square miles with over 1700 islands, most of the islands are uninhabitable but 43 islands can be reached by vehicle.

The Keys were at one time inhabited by the Native American Indians until Juan Ponce de Leon founded the Keys in 1513 while searching for the fountain of youth. Not many people flocked to the Florida Keys until after 1822 when the U.S. sent Navy commanders to the Keys to start taking control of the Islands. Then in 1823 the U.S. Navy established a naval base in Key West which brought law and order to the area and helped shut down the pirate problems.

The Florida Keys are so numerous that the geographical area is divided up into several groups. The groups are the Upper Keys which are the islands that are to the north that are closest to the mainland, the Middle Keys which are the islands in the middle, the Lower Keys which are the islands that are associated with Key West, and the Outer Keys are the islands that are not accessible are car. Overall the islands are beautiful and are a vacationers paradise.

Life in the Florida Keys

Every time I visit the Florida Keys my mind and body don’t want to leave. Even though I live in Central Florida it is still not the same as living the island life that the Keys offers you. With the islands being nestled between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico these small town islands offer a person the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful water and slow pace that everyone dreams of having.

The islands have hundreds of coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, if a person is into fishing and boating what better place could a person ask for. Each island has several places where one can rent a boat for a day of fun and adventure on the water or one could hire a guide to take them out for that catch of a lifetime out in the deep blue seas. If you spent the day on the water and did not land that big catch you can take the opportunity and take a sunset cruise and have a wonderful fish dinner from the local waters.

The islands also offer the perfect environment for the photographer at heart. One can get up in the morning and look to the east and see the sun rising out of the water and then later in the day you can watch the sun lower into the Gulf of Mexico horizon, what better pictures can a person take of the sunrise and then the same day catch a million dollar shot of the sun setting. There are so many things that a person that has a heart for photography can take pictures of in the Florida Keys a person could stay busy all day every day and never run out of things to take pictures of.

On the island of Key West and I am sure a few others also the night life on the islands come alive after the sun goes down. With many bars and restaurants most of them home owned the you can find a watering hole to meet your taste buds. Most of the dress codes if any in these establishments is usually t-shirts, shorts and flip flops. Many of the bars offer live music and small bands playing New Orleans style jazz and or tropical reggae music.

The life in the Florida Keys is really hard to explain by writing about it, it is something that needs to be experienced first hand. Each year I try to make a small trip down to the Keys to experience the laid back lifestyle and culture that the Florida Keys offers that you do not experience any place else in Florida.

Florida Keys Lobster Hunting

Every July the coastal areas of Florida are flooded with lobster hunters trying to get their share of this year's bounty when the official mini lobster season kicks off. There are two Florida Lobster Seasons, the 2 day mini season and the 8 month regular lobster season. The mini lobster season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July

Divers call lobsters "bugs" because the crustaceans and insects come from the same phylum, Arthropoda. Shared traits include jointed appendages - legs, antennae and mouthparts - hence the bug reference.

The Florida, or Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus , ranges from North Carolina to Brazil. It doesn’t have the large claws for hunting and defense like its cousin from the state of Maine. Its main defense is speed.

Lobsters prefer reefs and rocking outcroppings, but those caught unprotected on the open sand are not easy pickings. With one flip of the tail, these critters can take off, leaving a diver bewildered and empty-handed.

Before you go bug hunting, you need to know how to measure a lobster. A legal lobster has a carapace (shell that covers its body) length of 3 inches and weighs about 1 pound. Lobsters smaller than this are too "short" to take.

You’ll also need to know how to identify an egg-bearing female. Female lobsters carry eggs which can be found right under the tail, they carry the eggs for about a month anytime between April and August. An egg-bearing female are under the regulations and they must be released unharmed.

A typical female lobster can produce about 300,000 orange-colored eggs per clutch. Large females can produce as many as 2-million eggs per clutch. The eggs start out orange but darken as the eggs mature.

You may keep six lobsters per person per day in The Florida Keys. The possession limit on the water is equal to the daily bag limit per person.

The most popular way to serve the Keys' luscious lobster is grilled with melted butter or steamed like its Maine cousin. While traditional northern trimmings might include boiled potatoes and corn on the cob, it's not unusual to find Keys lobster paired with Cuban black beans and yellow rice.

So if you find yourself in the Florida Keys during lobster season make sure you give this awesom activity a try, you will be glad you did.

Florida Key Lobstering

Source

A listing of what Key West offers.

Key West Florida being the most populated Key of the Florida Keys offers probably the most things for visitors to see. Here is a list of things for visitors to see when touring around Key West.

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson Ferry

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

Jackson Square

Key West Cemetary

Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine

Key West Tropical Forest

St. Pauls on Duval Street, the first church to be built in Key West.

The Southern Most Point Marker

U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Museum

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Flagler Station Railroad Museum

Harry Truman Little White House

Key West Aquarium

Key West Lighthouse Museum

Mallory Square

These are just a few of the wonderful place to enjoy and learn more of the life and culture that the Florida Keys offers.

Key West Sunset

Mileage Signs

Florida Keys

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Southern Most Point Marker

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

Close to seventy miles from Key West sits the Dry Tortugas National Park. Built between 1846 and 1875 it is the largest masonry fort in the United States. In 1935 it was designated by President Roosevelt as a National Monument. The fort was built to protect the shipping channels around the low flats and reefs around the Florida Keys. A lighthouse was constructed on Garden Key to warn ships of upcoming reefs and danger.

Today the Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100 square mile park is mostly open water and seven small islands only accessible by boat or seaplane. The park is well known all over the world for its beautiful reefs and marine life. One of the activities on the island is bird watching. The islands draw migrating birds as a land zone between South America and the United States. Another activity is snorkeling and scuba diving the shallow waters and reefs off of Dry Tortugas viewing the beautiful coral and the abundance of tropical fish that hang around the reefs and shallows. If the water and birds are not your thing then maybe it is laying on the gorgeous white sand beaches of the islands. Laying in the sun, strolling along the beach and watching the crystal blue waters flow by, what more can a sun worshiper want.

The main reason why people come out to Fort Jefferson is to relive the history of the Fort. At the height nearly 2,000 people live on the island to keep things running and safe. There is much history here on the island to learn and much to see and touch. No visit is complete to the Florida Keys without visiting this magnificent piece of American history.

Driving Key West

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    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 3 years ago from India

      I just love travelling...

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