1. TAKE A TRAIL UNDERWATER:
Snorkel or scuba dive at Pennekamp State Park. (Mile Market 102.5,
Ocean Side), which lies partially in the Atlantic Ocean off Key
Largo with one of the coast's best maintained reefs. Visitors can
snorkel or scuba through extensive coral formations from charter
excursions or privately rented vessels. There also is a glass bottom
boat tour over waters that are clearest in the U.S. The park also
offers nature trails and other attractions on land. Several local
operators run reef trips.
2. FLOPPING WITH FLIPPER:
At the Dolphin Cove Research Center (Mile Marker 102, Bay Side)
just two miles from Moon Bay, visitors swim with dolphins or take
ecological tours of Florida Bay and the Everglades.
3. CASTING THE WATERS:
Former President George Bush loves pursuing the feisty bonefish
with his private guide from Islamorada. He is just one of hundreds
of experienced and neophyte sport fishermen who search the shallow
waters between Key Largo and Key West looking for bonefish, tarpon
and permit, most of which are caught and released. They have the
added experience of getting into nature while threading through
a maze of mangrove islands away from the highway and civilization.
Charter companies, guides and rentals are available all through
4. OCEANIC PERFORMING;
Daily shows at the Theater of the Sea (Mile Marker 84.5, Ocean Side)
feature dolphins, sea lions and other marine mammals. The facility
is open year round.
5. BACK INTO NATURE;
One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty and natural wonder
of the Keys, especially away from the roads and buildings, is to
slip quietly along in a kayak among mangrove outgrowths.
6. OFFSHORE FISHING:
One of the fundamental reasons people have traveled to the Keys
is the prime fishing opportunities in adjacent waters. Charter trips
may be booked for anywhere from a few hours to three or four days.
Some fishermen like to catch and release; Others go out for enough
to feed their families and friends. While charters are best arranged
ahead of time, they can be made on the spot.
7. FROM THE BRIDGE:
Not all fishing requires fancy gear or a guide or even a boat. Plenty
of fish are caught by those who take their poles out on one of the
many bridges that connect the necklace of islands. Local tackle
shops and stores are only too happy to give advice on the type of
bait to use, and there's plenty of room as well as company plying
the tides from the bridges.
8. WATER WORSHIP:
Whether it's aboard a sailboat, a small motor skiff, a glass-bottom
excursion vessel, a catamaran sunset or snorkeling cruise, a diving
boat, an island ferry or one of the classic large sailing schooners
every Keys visitor should go out to sea.
Captain Don Schlegel
U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Master