Lol, you really are a Keys Lover !!
I’m envious that you get back every year… as I said we get there only every second year or so (and as we tend to drive vs fly in it is a long haul for us… at about 30 Hours Driving time)
The locals say if you Love The Keys so much that you find YOU HAVE TO RETURN… then you have “Keys Disease”
Sounds like you & I both have it bad !! Lol
You named some of my favourite things… out of a very long list.
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as myself and the other Bees have said, The Keys has a lot of what you are looking for… so you should do some more reading & research.
Here are a few more Tips:
1- Flying in is possible to Key West (connections thru Miami or Atlanta). BUT as I stated the Overseas Hwy is one of the greatest drives in America… soooo beautifuly… and well worth the effort.
Miami Airport is slightly closer than Fort Lauderdale… but Miami can be a bit of a zoo vs Fort Lauderdale… so we prefer flying in and out of Ft Lauderdale if we have a choice.
There is only one main highway thru The Keys… the Overseas Hwy. It is mainly a 2 lane highway… 1 lane each way. And it is primarily a series of causeways that connects the many islands (GORGEOUS Scenery keep your camera handy). So it can be a bit slower going than driving elsewhere in Florida… especially so if there is a lot of traffic (or an accident somewhere). So plan to take your time… altho Google Maps says the drive is about 2:45 Hours from Homestead to Key West… count on it taking longer… even on a good driving day, you’ll probably find you’ll want to stop along the way to take photos etc.
Coming out of Homestead to begin the journey over to the Islands you have 2 choices… Hwy 1 or Card Sound Road. When we head into the Keys we like to start our journey on Card Sound Road, because it is less busy, and more scenic across the Everglades. This option will take you a little higher into Key Largo… after you cross over the Card Sound Bridge (toll bridge, if I recall it is about $ 1). Altho this route is slightly longer it is more scenic, and there is almost no traffic at all… so you make about the same time.
Lol, that is unless you make the stop at iconic Alabama Jacks !! Which is a Bar & Restaurant on the mainland just before you cross over the Card Sound Bridge. This spot will definitely get you in a “Keys Mood”.
Other legendary stops along the way include:
The Caribbean Club in Key Largo – Mile Marker # 104 … now a bit of a “dive bar”… but this spot was featured in the 1948 Key Largo movie that featured Humphrey Bogart. Come for the history… stay for the Mojitos !!
Rum Runners World Famous Tiki Bar – MM # 84 on Windley Key (next door to the Post Card Inn). This is the best tiki bar ever… built in the “Swiss Family Robinson” multi-deck style. Be sure and have a Rum Runner Cocktail… which was created here over 40 years ago… and enjoy the view of Kokomo Beach and whatever might be happening out on the water in this “playground” of The Keys
2- Beaches. The one thing that The Keys don’t have a lot of is miles and miles of white sandy beach… this is because these islands are surrounded by a Reef…. and the reef effects wave movement that would normally wash away the shoreline and deposit sand in an annual cycle (There are however some interesting sandbars out in the waters around the islands).
There are some beaches in The Keys… most notably Bahia Honda State Park and a few other spots (Key Largo – Islamorada – Marathon – and Key West). BUT there is as I say no great expanse.
What The Keys don’t have in beach tho… they more than make up for in water sports… this is a real paradise if you are a “water baby”… Boating, Sailing, Jet Skiing, Snorkelling, Scuba, Parasailing, and Deep Sea Fishing. One could easily spend everyday of a week-long vacation out on the water doing something different !!
Hope this helps…
Have more Questions… just ask