Key Largo City Brief

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Key Largo, the northernmost key in the chain, is the largest of the Florida Keys.When Spanish explorers first encountered the island in the early 1500's, they were inspired to name it Cayo Largo, meaning Long Key. Located approximately 1 hour away from Miami International Airport, this tropical paradise transports you to another part of the world. The clear, warm, beautiful blue waters surrounding the area make it the perfect destination for all water activities like diving, snorkeling and sportfishing as well as diversions such as sun-tanning, bird-watching or sightseeing. Key Largo has a population of over 11,000 people and plays host to over a million visitors every year.

"Sport Diving Capital of the World" is the name that comes to mind when people speak of Key Largo. A myriad of undersea parks, snorkeling and diving locations await the underwater adventurer. Try the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Underwater State Park at Mile Marker 102.5, the nation's first underwater park. Established in 1960, it encompasses a120-square mile area of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps as well as a large beach area. Activities available at the park are a visitor center and aquarium, glass-bottom boat tour, snorkeling, diving and a dive shop, certified scuba instruction, motorboat, sailboat & canoe rentals, saltwater fishing, boating, camping and a beach. The park is adjacent to the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary, a 21 mile long, 8 mile wide protected area with more than 650 varieties of tropical fish and 40 species of coral. Both are accessible by boat only. The Everglades National Park is just a short trip away by boat or car.

Key Largo is home to the world’s largest artificial reef, the 510 foot USS Spiegel Grove, the largest ship ever to be sunk intentionally. The Spiegel Grove is located near Dixie Shoals in Key Largo, 130 feet down. Dive the reef and enjoy the numerous tropical fish and sea life.

Although known for it's underwater entertainment, sportfishing is still alive and well on the island. Fish the "backcountry" waters of Florida Bay for tarpon and bonefish. Charter a boat (or bring your own) and spend the day on the Atlantic angling for marlin, wahoo, sailfish and tuna. Stroll the shoreline & nature trails, or visit the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center (MM 94 Bayside) and observe herons, egrets and roseate spoonbills.
Kids of all ages will delight in the Dolphins Plus marine research facility. This center was created to care for marine mammal life and to educate the public about their environment and habits. Living at the facility are 12 Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and 2 California Sea Lions. You can choose between the natural or the structured dolphin swim, scheduled intermittently throughout the day.

The original African Queen boat from the movie of the same name is located at Mile Marker100-B, as well as the Thayer IV, from the film, "On Golden Pond". Scenes from PT-109 were also filmed on the shores of Key Largo.

For those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere, Harry Harris Park & Beach at MM 92.5 offers facilities for family outings and picnics such as sandy beach, picnic areas and bathrooms. Fishing and swimming are the two main attractions here.

At MM 92-85 is the smaller Tavernier Key, just south of Key Largo. Tavernier was first settled by the Bahamian farmers from Key West in the 1860's. The area started out as a fishing and farming village, but with the help of Flagler's railroad it grew into a pineapple & coconut plantation and a fruit grove . The old packing house still sits near the railroad tracks, and has been recently restored as part of the Historic District. More than 50 buildings in this area are known to have been erected as early as the 1900's.

Whatever your accommodation needs, Key Largo is certain to have it. There are dive resorts (Amy Slate's Amoray Dive Resort and Diver's Cove Key Largo), campgrounds (America Outdoors Camping, Jabour's Trailer Court), smaller, more personal properties (Popp's Motel and the Largo Lodge) as well as nationally known hotel chains such as Westin, Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson. Dine at the romantic Frank Keys Cafe, Snapper's Waterfront Saloon and Raw Bar or The Fish House.
Come experience the romance and adventure of Key Largo!

Jean M Mazza