DREAMSCAPES Winter 2017/2018
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THE FLORIDA KEYS: A WHOLE DIFFERENT COUNTRY
 
(2017 - Winter Issue)

Writer: STEVE WINSTON



Don’t laugh. The Keys actually did declare themselves another country—The Conch Republic—in a (humorous) “revolt” back in the 1980s.

Things are different here. The water’s a deep aquamarine. The food is exceptional, with “island” specialties like Key lime pie, conch salad (a local shellfish pronounced “konk”), conch chowder and conch fritters. And the lifestyle is more relaxed.

However, it’s not always laid-back. On Key Largo, the northernmost island, you can explore crystal-clear waters on a dive and you’ll quickly realize why this is called the “Dive Capital of the World.” If you prefer a combination of land and aquatic excursions, the “River of Grass” in Everglades National Park is nearby.

Heading south, Islamorada offers some of the best sport fishing in America, and its waters teem with endless possibilities for tonight’s dinner. Of course, the island features a number of excellent restaurants, most of which will happily cook your catch for you. 

Composed of three main islands, the community of Marathon is a favourite among families. Join a marine biologist on an interactive Aquarium Encounter experience at the Florida Keys Aquarium. Enjoy an unforgettable dockside encounter or swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center. Visit the Turtle Hospital. Grab your snorkelling or diving gear and discover one of the most beautiful shallow reefs in the Keys at the Sombrero Key Lighthouse.

For a taste of natural Florida, head for the Lower Keys, known for great campgrounds and the place to spot unusual wildlife in their natural habitats. The Lower Keys boast two National Wildlife Refuges, a state park and a National Marine Sanctuary. And if you’re lucky, you might see the elusive Key deer, found only in this part of the Keys. 

At the end of the island chain is Key West, a historic, charming, funky, cool, pastel-coloured little city, where you’ll find wonderful food and many outdoor spots to enjoy. Island music from the Caribbean reverberates out into the streets from clubs and bars. Tour historic landmarks such as Ernest Hemingway’s house and President Truman’s house. Visit America’s funniest cemetery (you won’t believe what’s written on some headstones). And then, there’s the world’s coolest sunset celebration at Mallory Square, where visitors, jugglers, stilt-walkers, fire-eaters and musicians gather nightly. And with top-flight hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses from which to choose, you might stay a while longer than you planned.

Travel Planner

Find your favourite Florida island getaway in the Keys at fla-keys.com.  

 
 
 
 
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