Driving out to the Florida Keys from the mainland you will notice that it is nothing like the rest of America ,in fact it is nothing like mainland Florida.Our first drive down I remember saying to my wife “this is America”,WOW ! Being a New Englander we had never seen anything like that ! And you know,even after 20 years of driving down,the place is still as awesome as the first trip down.You have to drive through hell to get to Heaven !
Most Americans don’t really know how nice this place is, Key Largo (the first island in the chain)is only 18 miles from the main land.Crystaline Caribbean water surrounds a series of islands connected by bridges,the longest being the famous 7 mile bridge in Marathon Key.The Last island in the hundred mile chain of islands is Key West, worth the price of your vacation alone.
The Florida Keys and The Nation Marine Sanctuary have taken care of their environment.Strict rules and regulations have created an place rich with life and at the same time tourist friendly.The Florida Keys are constantly upgrading their parking/fishing areas, roads and highways,which adds more access and beautiful views of the water,and a more comfortable vacation experience. Pull off the side of the road, anywhere and do a little snorkeling,and you’ll have to agree ! The Keys protect their forage fish (bait fish)which attracts life ,game fish,birds,even mammals.Its not unusual to see a pod of “Dolphin” swimming and feeding ,close to shore.
The Keys use the old railroad bridges as free fishing areas,which makes it an affordable way for everyone one to enjoy the ocean.Most of the parking/fishing areas have just been upgraded with new railings,new landscaping,and plenty of trash cans for the most affordable, no hassle,fishing and snorkeling ,you could ask for!
All you will need is a small boat to access some of the patch reefs(small coral reefs), most are only a mile or so from the islands.Snorkel,fish,and swim on your own little personal coral reef and explore the area ,and with a hundred miles of nautical playground,its very rarely crowded.
If you rent one of the many canal homes in the keys,you can not beat your boat docked in your back yard.Wake up in the morning and take a blast on an ocean so clear,its hard to judge the depth of the water or head to Picnic island for an early morning swim.Picnic island is a small island that is a locals favorite swimming and party area in the Ramrod/Summerland/Big Pine area’s.
And the “fishing” is as good as it gets Anywhere.I have heard fishing reports that the sailfish have been occasionally feeding in 20 ft. of water inside of the main reef line.Sailfishing on a 14′ carolina skiff 5 miles from your dock in Ramrod Key ! Are you kidding me !! You can not do stuff like that on a “Cruise” for the price of admission !
I have not even mentioned Key West, a vacation in itself.People from all over the world come to this island paradise to snorkel,dive,fish,and enjoy the only frost free place in the America.What do you like to do shop,eat,drink,or just walk around historic Duval Street and people watch? Rent Jet-ski’s ,boats,bikes,scooter’s or how about Para-sailing its all here !
So the next time you loose your faith in this great country we live in,visit the only place in America that makes me Happy!!Vacation in the Florida Keys and fall in love with America,Again .
Paul Beaudette is an avid fisherman,check-out his websites http://flakeysfishin.com/blog