Holidays to Florida Keys are seaside kicks and tropical vibes on pretty coral islands, with nearly everything you want to do on water right at your feet
There’s that exciting peek of wild dolphins swimming alongside your catamaran, shallow-water snorkelling above the coral reef and glass-bottom boat tours looking out on to marine life below. Whether you’re landing by seaplane to settle down in your thatched bungalow, sipping a rum punch on a private beach or a seasoned angler heading to a salt-water lagoon, Florida Keys holidays are all about a classic island escape.
There’s lots of easy breezy fun to be had for kids out on the ocean and plenty of ice-cream stops and in-resort activities along the way. For a splash of romance, think sunset piers and Champagne evening cruises. Spend days counting coconut palms at the tiny key of Islamorada while enjoying peel-and-eat shrimp lunches and catch-of-the day candlelit dinners, and fish by moonlight on the Gulf Stream where even intrepid beginners will come back with a snapper or two.
There’s a kitschy, eccentric side to Key West but also lots of Caribbean-style charm. Sit down for a pint at famed resident Ernest Hemingway’s favourite Sloppy Joes haunt, get out on the water above the USA’s only living coral barrier reef and then slink off grid to a tiny speck of golden beach on Little Palm Island.
Florida Keys holiday highlights
Still-temperate waters, vibrant coral reefs and a playground of marine life make getting out on the water the best pastime on the Keys. Fort Taylor Historic State Park in Key West is the coolest spot to hang out with tropical fish, gorgeous soft sands were brought in from the Bahamas to build beautiful Smathers Beach and Higgs Beach is the place to head to for paddle boarding, kayaking and seafood dining with ocean views. Islamorada’s St Anne’s is the idyllic beachy location of Netflix TV series Bloodline and Cheeca Rocks is the perfect spot for parrotfish and turtle spotting.
Duval Street in Key West unveils the quirkier side of town; drinks at iconic Sloppy Joes; sunset celebrations on Mallory Square as acrobats and sword swallowers perform; attempts to snap a photo with the famed wild roosters that freely wander; and a trip to Ernest Hemingway’s Home & Museum to see six toed-cats.
Where is Florida Keys?
In south-eastern United States, the Florida Keys are about 15 miles from Miami and sway from Florida’s southern tip in a chain of islands, with the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Highway One is the one lane road that connects them with a string of 42 bridges. Key West is the southernmost city, just 90 miles from Havana, Cuba.
Key West is only two miles wide and four miles long, so it’s easily walkable. There’s also the option to hire bicycles or take a taxi. If you are on a self-drive holiday, Florida Keys is accessible from Highway One, and a seaplane or boat transfer if heading to Little Palm Island. The Duval Loop is a complimentary bus service taking you through sixteen stops in the historic quarter of Key West.
Food & drink
It’s all about calypso tunes and catch-of-the-day dinners in the Florida Keys. Expect fusion cuisine from the neighbouring Caribbean and that famous Key Lime Pie for breakfast, brunch and dinner. You’ll find taco shacks and clam bars; raw bar cafes and sushi restaurants; and palm-lined fine dining estates and casual bars with light snacks and live music. Hit rum bars on Duval Street, sip margaritas on the beach and try Florida Keys Brewing Company’s beer garden in Islamorada for house brewed Kambucha.
Recommended Florida Keys Hotels
Go on a small boat to see the dolphins around the Florida Keys for a much more intimate experience. With just three other passengers and our slightly eccentric guide we set off on a great afternoon at sea. The dolphins played happily around the boat and didn't seem to mind when we joined them for a swim!