We bought the tickets to fly to Florida, and only after that we wondered what we could do there. Stay on the beach? Not our style. So we started reading guides, and the name “Keys” was everywhere: tropical islands – about 1,000 – accessible through the roads, coral reef, white sand beaches, small isolated towns with colorful houses… It sounded really promising. And actually it was, but maybe less ideal because it was pretty crowded with tourists, like us, who wanted sun and a warmth during December…
You’ll see in the video what we did during these 3 days (and if you’re interested in me adding English CCs, let me know and add a comment below!).
If you plan to spend a few days in the Keys, here are some useful information:
- A giant bridge in the middle of the ocean. The ride from Miami was the occasion to see spectacular landscapes: we were literally above the sea on giant bridges. One of them is 7 mile long, that’s impressive and can give a strange fear-of-height feeling. They are nice stops to do along the road, among them Bahia Honda beach and the old railroad bridge that you actually can see from the highway (built at the beginning of the 20th century, this bridge was the only way to reach the Keys – except by boats – but a hurricane destroyed it in the mid 20’s; too expensive to be rebuilt, it’s now a place for fishermen and birds). Unfortunately, this architectural and natural show is counterbalanced with ugly moments where the highway is in the middle of commercial areas.
- Kayaking around the Keys. That’s one of the best way to get closer to the wild islands coasts. And you can also find some entrances in the mangrove, which is pretty exciting and scary. It’s not really safe to do it without a guide though. We rented a canoe at Big Pine Kayak Adventures, for a couple of hours: next time, I’d like to do at least a one-day trip!
- Snorkel along the coral reef. Don’t miss the coral reef! But you’ll have to snorkel or dive. The water is pretty shallow and clear, but we had to wait until our last day here when the sea was really calm, without any wind and the sun high enough in the afternoon, so we could see through the water. We rented all the snorkeling gear with Strike Zone Charters, on Big Pine Key and had a nice experience with them.
- Biking all around. It seems that it’s the favorite way to travel on these islands – though the distances between each of the keys is pretty important, and you would have to ride along a busy road. We didn’t get the chance to do it this time, but I loved seeing all these nice Cruiser bikes. There’s also a lot of scooters, which I’m not used to anymore in back in Boston!
- Wandering in the streets of Key West. It’s the biggest city on the Keys and the historic center looks like an old village with tons of colorful wooden houses, with palms and luxuriant flowers everywhere. We really liked the lazy, warm and joyful atmosphere, but at this time of the year (end of December), it was really crowded with tourists – well, like us!
- The best season to go. It’s actually from December to April. The rest of the year is too hot, very buggy, and it’s hurricane season – you pick.
- Restaurants. We were not lucky, we couldn’t go to the most recommended restaurant in Key West: Blue Heaven. It was closed on Christmas, and so busy the morning after… We mostly stayed on “our” Key: Big Pine Key, where we tried and liked rustic No Name Pub. Don’t forget to try the Key lime pie, with its sweet and slightly acidic flavors, it’s a true delight!
- Where to sleep. We start looking for a hotel pretty late, so AirBnb helped us again: we loved our host home, Kerry planned a whole list of things to visit and places to eat. We shared her gorgeous house on Big Pine Key (45 minutes from Key West) with another couple, and it was nice chatting with them (potential friends, I hope so!). Stay out of Key West was a good thing, it was nice to have the opportunity to see other less well-known places.
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