When thinking of the US, palm trees, sandy beaches, and crystal blue oceans don’t necessarily spring to mind. That is, of course, unless you’re familiar with the Florida Keys; the American answer to tropical paradise. With all that sand, sun and sea on offer, comes the opportunity for adventure and exploration. Meet wildlife you never expected to find on US soil (or in its waters), spear-fish with veteran captains and fisherman or catch some serious air after your introduction to the exciting sport of paddle boarding. If you’re after excitement, we’ll show you how to get your fix.
SCENIC DETOURS ABOVE AND BELOW THE WAVES
Before you hit the 18 mile stretch bound for Key Largo and a taste of the ‘American-Caribbean’, we’ve arranged for you to make a slight detour into national park territory; consider it a warm up for the adventure and wildlife that awaits in the Keys. After following signs to the Everglades National Park, abandon your vehicle, strap on those walking boots and explore miles and miles of luscious greenery, hardwood hammocks, and ponds. Expect to see alligators, deer, eagles, and maybe even a boa constrictor or two.
Sufficiently warmed up and acquainted with some of the natural wildlife, carry on down to Flamingo, where a pre-arranged guided tour of the surrounding mangrove islands will pique your interest. Drift along the estuaries, discover secluded bays, and even catch a few afternoon Z’s on the elevated chickees built over the lulling waters.Read more
After checking in at your secluded resort, it’s time to make a tough decision; snorkel or scuba? Whichever one you pick, rest assured knowing that we’re in contact with a variety of schools and shops that will be more than willing to aid your exploration of Key Largo’s magnificent off-shore reefs, and all the tropical sea life that they harbour.
RIDE THE SURF
After a hearty Caribbean-inspired American breakfast, it’s time to head further into the island chain- south to Islamorada- and learn an exciting new skill. Kite-boarding, both exhilarating and quite easy to pick up, is the perfect way to get the blood pumping. Lessons, if needed or desired, are on offer, but soon you’ll be cruising the waves, catching air, and soaking up that delightful Florida sun out on the warm water. The waters of the keys are the perfect place to learn – the more you pick it up the further out you can go, and bigger jumps and stronger winds will ensure that even ‘experts’ won’t get bored. This is all about living in the moment, sun at your back, waves at your feet, and all worldly concerns left on the shore.
Sufficiently exhilarated, wind down with a sunset dinner at Pierre’s; an elegant restaurant located in the heart of Islamorada. Serving up French-fusion cuisine with global influences, Pierre’s menu is as refined and decorated as the restaurant itself. The colonial, plantation-style house is decorated with items and artefacts from across the world, and the opportunity to watch the sun go down on the restaurant’s veranda offers a taste of natural beauty as well.
HIDDEN TREASURES AND STORIES FROM THE SEA
Regardless of how much you enjoyed your sunset dinner on dry land (a lot, we’re sure), you’re not done getting wet yet. 30 minutes south of Islamorada lies Marathon, and deep in the waters of Marathon lies the wreck of the Thunderbolt. Today you’ll discover a little bit of lost treasure under the waves, and explore this impressive artificial reef. Sunk in 1986 the Thunderbolt has since become a beautiful artificial reef that attracts the vibrant and varied underwater life that inhabits the tropical waters of the Florida Keys. The mystery of deep waters and the thrill of discovery and exploration combine here to create the type of unique experience that adventurers crave.
On the off chance that diving isn’t for you, or if you’re looking to elevate those heart rates in a different way, then we’ve arranged for you to try your hand at spear-fishing. The Keys are famous around the world for being an ideal destination for sport fishing; Hemingway himself immortalised the Keys and its fishing scene in his seminal work ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, so now is your chance to turn those pages into an exhilarating reality. Learn the ropes with expert fishers provided by one of the local dive shops and pursue hogfish, snapper and a variety of grouper goliaths.
UPBEAT DOWN TIME AND SUNSET RHYTHMS
Even the most devout adventurers and adrenaline junkies need a little down time. We know, however, that ‘down time’ has a different meaning in the action-seekers dictionary; so yes, you may have arrived in the more relaxed Lower Keys, but you’re going to see the beautiful islands via your paddle-board.
Stand on your board to get a better view of your magnificent surroundings as the tropical fish flit by, and the sun glistens off the azure waters. Surf or traverse, depending on your mood, and tour through mangrove trees, scout out the best beaches on offer, or paddle in the back-country for a more laid-back experience.
You’re now within a stone’s throw of the famous Key West, epicentre of the Florida Keys. After checking in to the Sunset Key Resort (on your own private island, no less) catch the 24-hour shuttle from your secluded paradise, head to Mallory square, and wait for the show to start … Sunset at Mallory square is the Florida Keys signal for ‘start the party’. Street vendors, live music, entertainment, and city wide merriment fills the golden and pink tinted streets at dusk – so wander, sit in wonder, or join the party.