Visiting the Florida Keys: Fun Facts
Where Are the Florida Keys
My family and I enjoy vacationing in the Florida Keys. Even though we we live in Pensacola, Florida, the Keys seem a world away because we live at one end of Florida and the Keys are at the opposite end, the very tip of Florida. It is a 13 hour trip from Pensacola to the area where we vacation, a town called Islamorada which incorporates Upper Matecumbe Key.and a couple of other keys. It is another hour and a half down to Key West. It is about three hours from Miami all the way down to Key West. It is interesting that the southern tip of Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba. The keys are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Facts About the Florida Keys
- The Florida Keys are made up of about 1700 islands. Very few are populated and only 43 are connected by bridges.
- The total land area of the Florida Keys is 137.3 square miles.
- 42 bridges connect the islands, with the longest being the world famous Seven Mile Bridge, and the shortest being only 37 feet long.
- The inhabited Keys are connected by Highway US1, which is also known as the Overseas Highway. It was completed in 1938.
- To find locations in the Keys, Mile Markers are used. For example, your hotel may be at MM 54. The tip of Key West is MM 0.
- Famous people in history making their home in the Keys: novelist Ernest Hemingway, playwrite Tennessee Williams, and studier of birds John James Audubon. Hemingway's home can be toured in Key West.
- Islamorada is considered the "Sport fishing capital of the world". Some of the best charter boat captains can be found here.
- The "Hemingway Cat" is a polydactyl cat, a cat with 6 toes, acquired by Ernest Hemingway from a ship's captain in Key West. Today more than 60 of these cats can be found in Hemingway's home in Key West and are protected by his will. Some of these are decendents of Hemingway's first cat.
- Some animals of the Keys: Key Deer, Lower Keys Marsh rabbit, Key Largo wood rat, Manatee, Caribbean Monk Seal, sea turtles, osprey, bald eagle, and so many more.
- Do you like Key Lime Pie? The origin comes from the 19th century in Key West, Florida. Key Lime Pie is the official pie of the state of Florida as of legislation enacted on July 1, 2006. In 1965, legislator, Bernie Papy, Jr. wrote legislation stating that a $100 fine would be imposed on anyone advertising "Key Lime Pie" that wasn't actually made from key limes. It did not pass.
- Marathon Key is home to the Turtle Hospital, at Mile Marker 48.5 bayside. It is the only veterinary hospital in the world dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles. It was opened in 1986 to heal injured sea turtles and return them to the wild.The most common type of sea turtle in the Keys is the Loggerhead turtle.
- Key Largo is known for John Pennekamp State Park, which was the first underwater preserve in the United States. It celebrated it's 50th birthday on December 10, 2010.
- Conch shells, particularly the Queen Conch, used to be harvested for it's meat and the shells used as a means of communication. It is now illegal to harvest conch, and all meat from conch shells used to make the famed conch fritters known in the Keys comes from the Bahamas.
Fishing in the Keys
The Keys are home to more sport fishing records than any other destination in the world. The best sport fish to find in the Keys include amberjack, bonefish, dolphin (mahi mahi), grouper, sailfish, swordfish, and shark.
Many presidents have vacationed in the Keys and enjoyed fishing. These presidents have included Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George HW Bush.
Stone Crab season is October 15-May 15 each year. Stone crabs are harvested for their claws. It is indicated that the crabs can regrow their claws, and though it is legal to harvest both of a crab's claws, it is to the crab's advantage to only harvest one.
There are two Lobser seasons in the Keys. There is a mini season that lasts for two days in July. Actual lobster season runs from August 6-March 31. In Florida the catch is the Florida Spiny Lobster which looks and tastes different than Maine lobster.
Robbie's Marina and Bud N Mary's Marina in Islamorada are not only known for great fishing charters, but both marinas have very large tarpon hanging out around the docks that visitors can feed. Beware of the pelicans who like to steal the fish before they hit the water.
For More Information on The Keys
- Visiting the Florida Keys: Keys History
The beautiful Florida Keys have a rich history, from inhabitation by the Indians to explorers to Henry Flagler's railroad. This article gives a brief overview.