Florida Keys and Key West
By James | Last updated December 8, 2023
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The Florida Keys consist of hundreds of islands (many uninhabited) stretching 110 miles (180 km) from the Atlantic Ocean into the Gulf of Mexico and home to the only coral reefs in the United States.
They are joined together by a series of bridges (the Overseas Highway) and causeways along route US 1 which allow you to drive all the way to Key West.
Its most southerly tip, Key West is a mere 90 miles (145 km) from Cuba and 62 miles (100 km) from the Tropic of Cancer.
Key Largo is the first inhabited island in the Upper Keys and is renowned for its diving and snorkelling at the nearby John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and National Maritime Sanctuary.
The Christ of the Deep statue is also a famous photo-spot for divers at the Key Largo Dry Rocks.
Marathon in the Middle Keys is a great place for fishing enthusiasts and boasts what is probably one of the longest fishing piers in the world – 2 miles of the original 7-Mile Bridge (the remains of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad destroyed by hurricanes in 1935).
Key West is often referred to as the ‘southernmost point in continental USA’ and everyone wants to get the photo taken next to the famous monument in Mallory Square where people gather each night to watch the sunset. In reality, this is not strictly true because they are islands and therefore not really part of the mainland.
Key West was once home to pirates and wreckers but today it attracts writers and those who enjoy a more bohemian lifestyle.
One of Key West’s most famous residents was Ernest ‘Papa’ Hemmingway who lived here between 1931 and 1940 and frequented the well-known bar ‘Sloppy Joes’.
Dry Tortugas National Park
The Dry Tortugas are a cluster of seven reef islands, some 68 miles west of Key West and are only accessible by boat or seaplane. A well known monument is Fort Jefferson, the largest brick built fort in the United States.