Just the name Key Largo brings forth mental images of palm trees, sunny skies, and warm water lapping the shoreline. The reality, fortunately, is no longer far from the dream. Key Largo is part of a string of sun-soaked islands extending like a necklace from the bottom of Florida all the way to Key West.
Life right here is all about the ocean, with traveler attractions and things to do being almost totally aquatic-based. Snorkeling, swimming, diving, fishing, pleasure boating, and simply lingering on shady patios are all famous pastimes.
Located a little more than an hour’s drive from Miami and ideal for a day trip, Key Largo is the largest of the Florida Keys. It is the closest and best spot near the mainland to access the Gulf of Mexico, the Everglades, and the Atlantic in one location. This allows you to effortlessly find your favorite back bay, deserted island, sandbar, or coral reef, and set up shop in this tropical paradise. Discover the best places to go to with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Key Largo.
1. John Pennekamp State Park
Dip beneath the waters at John Pennekamp State Park, and you will be amazed by using the treasures that lie below. Ancient statues, cannons, and remnants from historical shipwrecks rest on the bottom just offshore, ready to be discovered.
As you swim about, colorful fish accompany you on your adventure to find the well-known Christ of the Abyss statue. Set on a giant concrete base, the statue reaches toward the surface with both hands extended in exaltation. The statue is in 25 ft of water and can be effortlessly seen by snorkeling or diving. The Half Day Snorkel Trip on Reefs in the Florida Keys offers a chance to snorkel at this site or others as a section of the tour.
Other things to do at the park include glass-bottom boat tours, picnicking, and stand-up paddleboarding. If all that warm Florida sun has you wishing for a cool down, head to one of the park’s beaches. The beaches are no longer big and tend to be a bit rocky. Cannon Beach has a satisfactory stretch of sand and is famous for swimming.
Address: 102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida
Official site: https://pennekamppark.com/
2. Join a Snorkeling Tour
For inexperienced snorkelers or people who do not favor snorkeling alone, joining a group is the right option. Key Largo is the best location to take up this hobby, with masses of calm water and excellent sites.
One good alternative for beginners is the Key Largo Snorkeling Tour, which comes complete with all equipment, which includes masks, fins, and life vests. All you need to do is show up. This tour will take you into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to snorkel in calm, clear, shallow water. This is a 2.5-hour mini-adventure that the whole household can enjoy on a trip to Key Largo.
3. Go Fishing
Turquoise waters, warm salty breezes, an abundance of fish, and calm seas make fishing around Key Largo easy. Perhaps the toughest phase of your day will be deciding what fish to go after and where to fish. The reason the decision is tough is due to the fact of the sheer number of choices: the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, the Everglades, flats, backcountry, and wrecks all present themselves as tempting options.
Key Largo is well set up for your fishing adventure. Extensive marinas provide all the services your boat will need, and address retail outlets can inform you where the fish are biting and what to catch them on. Launch sites on both sides of the island get you out onto the water and where you want to go fast.
If you’d prefer to rent a captain and crew to put you onto the fish fast, an extensive array of capable operators are standing by. A variety of fighting fish are lurking below in the heat waters, relying on where you fish. If you are keen on offshore fishing and relying on the season, your captain will do their best to put you onto mahi-mahi, tuna, kingfish, marlin, and sailfish.
For these worried about seasickness and preferring to say closer to shore, reef, and wreck fishing is the norm. Catches of grouper, cobia, snapper and massive amberjack are common.
4. Get Out on the Water in a Boat
Skimming through the calm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico in your boat with the warm breeze on your face is one of the most popular things to do in Key Largo. Hitch that boat up to the car and head south. Wide-open spaces, few navigation hazards, and a whole fleet of like-minded fanatics are what you will find.
Be sure to pack your swimsuit and lots of sunscreens, pick a shallow spot, and drop anchor. Grab your floaties and jump overboard into the warm, clear waters. One of the most famous activities is boating to the sandbar off Islamorada. Here, you’ll discover a fun crowd swimming, snorkeling, barbecuing, and typically simply hanging out in the warm shallow waters.
If you are lucky, you may have dolphins taking part in your wake, or spot manatees lolling in the shallows. Key Largo is well set up for pleasure boating. Boat slips are accessible for long-term and short-term stays, they come complete with shore power, water, and Wi-Fi. Launch facilities are excellent, with wide ramps and trailer parking. Boat rentals are broadly available.
5. Go Diving on the Molasses Reef & Explore Sunken Wrecks
Surrounded on all sides by water and reefs, Key Largo is a hot spot for diving. The underwater offerings range from full-size reefs teeming with colorful fish, challenging wrecks, historical underwater statues, and wall dives. The 13 main dive places are on the Atlantic side of the island and are across a range of depths.
One of the most popular dive sites is Molasses Reef. Here, you will discover a massive reef system with depths of up to ninety feet, but the fundamental attraction is the coral heads that jut up from the bottom. The reef is inside John Pennekamp State Park and as a result, aquatic life is abundant. Keep an eye out for parrotfish, barracuda, southern stingrays, turtles, blue Chromis, and schoolmasters. Must-see areas in Molasses Reef include the Aquarium, the Winch Hole, Eagle Ray Alley, and Fire Coral Cave.
Key Largo is especially recognized for wreck diving, with 4 important sites offering various levels of challenge for those qualified. These are no longer your average little ships on the bottom; the wrecks right here range in size from 327 feet to 510 ft long. Of the 4 wrecks, three are in deep water, and superior certification is required. The fourth, the Benwood, in water 25- to 45-feet deep, is available to Open Water Divers.
6. Relax at a Resort
Key Largo has an abundance of excellent resorts. One of the best is the Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection. The resort has one of the finest seashores in the Florida Keys, lined with cabanas and a large pool.
Rest comfortably in your choice of 177 rooms, cabanas, suites, or even a large beach residence complete with its own private pool. Most of the rooms have patios, ideal for relaxing and soaking up the vibe of the resort.
Get active, if you wish, on the tennis, basketball, or volleyball courts, and then soothe any aches at the resort’s spa. In the evening, the Sol by way of the Sea offers romantic seaside dining with the freshest of neighborhood ingredients.
All that turquoise water may draw you away from your sun lounger and e-book (or maybe not), and if that is indeed the case, the water sports center has everything you may want to ever want. Choose from stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling equipment, Jet Skis, and kayaks. Tours and other activities can additionally be booked here, including diving expeditions, sailing charters, deep-sea fishing, and parasailing amongst many others.
7. Dine by the Seashore
Seafood is king in Key Largo. Fresh fish dominates menus in most restaurants, and local chefs have innovative takes on preparing this bounty. Restaurants have open-air themes, and patios are the norm. The hot evening air blowing gently as you dine under the stars by the seashore is amazing.
You’ll want to linger, as it truly is just what happens in Key Largo. Conversations ebb and flow and sometimes stop, as the view does the talking. Cap off your meal with some key lime pie for dessert.
It’s no longer all about lengthy dinners on the patio, though, Key Largo has amazing fast meals restaurants that will whip you up a quick sandwich the usage of the freshest catch of the day. A leisurely late breakfast is also a Key Largo pastime.
8. Island Dolphin Care
Have you ever wondered what a kiss from a dolphin would be like? Bring the family to the Island Dolphin Care to get up shut and personal with these friendly creatures. The center is all about education, with a variety of programs.
All visits take place on personal excursions led by an educated guide. Programs range in price and include basic visits dockside proper through to full-day adventures where you shadow the animal-care professionals.
One of the most unique adventures is the Dolphin Float. Climb on a raft and float around in the dolphin pool; you may be amazed to see what the curious dolphins do with the tourist in their pool. Most of the time the dolphins will come up beside the rafts and appear to see who’s on top, look for a bit of petting, or if you can convince them, push you and your raft around the pool.
One of the free matters to do at Dolphin Care is yoga. Bring your mat and enjoy a flow class with your instructor on the docks while the dolphins Zen out around you.
Official site: https://islanddolphincare.org/
9. Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center
Wild birds are everywhere in the Florida Keys, and occasionally some of them preserve injuries. Fortunately, the Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary are there to save the day.
The rehab center is no longer open to the public, but the sanctuary is. Here, you will discover 90 birds across forty different species that are not able to be released into the wild. The birds here are accustomed to human beings and are also used in academic programs.
One of the highlights of a go-to is seeing the pelican feeding. This spectacle takes vicinity each day at 8 am and 2:30 pm. Admission to the sanctuary is free, however, donations are constantly appreciated to help the facility continue its critical work.
10. Go Swimming at Harry Harris Park
Harry Harris Park is a remarkable public park that is ideal for those with young children searching for a safe beach. Located on the Atlantic side of the island, this man-made seashore has a giant rock seawall that extends out into the ocean, developing a massive saltwater pool.
The water in the pool is always calm, exceptionally warm, and perfect for splashing about. The imported sand is white, soft, and good for crafting the best sandcastles in the state.
Just again from the beach, the park has everything for a perfect day: picnic tables, covered pavilions, BBQs, a playground, a basketball court, and a baseball field. Comfort stations have restrooms, change areas, and showers.
Fishing is famous off the jetty, and with the proper bait, you’ll have a good chance of catching yellowtail snapper, grunt, and schoolmaster.
11. Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
This park was saved from development in 1982, and nowadays it’s an 84-acre natural wonderland. Home to rare and protected plants, the park is an excellent area to brush up on the flora of Florida.
Six miles of level and paved walking trails wind their way past West Indian hardwood hammock. Rare plants consist of mahogany mistletoe and wild cotton. American crocodiles are also found here. Information is posted on signs along the trails and provides larger insights into the diverse ecosystem that surrounds you.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is a hot spot for birding. Key Largo makes for an ideal rest stop for migrating birds. Some of the species noticed here include the Black-whiskered vireo, La Sagra’s flycatcher, and yellow-billed cuckoo. Keep an ear out for the songs of the Bahama mockingbird as they perch atop the greenery.
As you stroll along, look for butterflies. The park is home to a variety of species. A couple of the most often sighted include the Schaus’ swallowtail and mangrove skippers. One of the park’s smallest but most colorful inhabitants are the tree snails, easily spotted slowly making their way alongside the tree trunks.