What is it about Key Largo?
That's simple. Key Largo is all about the water.
What This Island Has to Offer
This narrow strip of land nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay offers no majestic mountains, no grand waterfalls, and no scenic
What it does offer are beautiful turquoise
and deep blue ocean waters filled with teeming coral reefs that have
earned this 33-mile-long island the title of “Diving
Capital of the World.”
They're Here Because of the Water
Everything on land here is to support activities on the water—scuba
diving, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, and boating.
The hotels, resorts, campgrounds, restaurants, marinas, and stores all are
here to lodge, feed, and supply visitors and locals alike who are here for one reason or
the other--directly or indirectly--because of the water.
First Adventures in Key Largo
I first came to this island over 40 years ago with the express purpose of poking my head under its
clear, sub-tropical waters.
With mask, snorkel, fins, and a new
single-hose regulator packed into the back of a 1964 Ford Falcon, I headed south along US 1 with dreams of
grand underwater adventures.
And I was NOT disappointed. Great
visibility. Lots of coral and fish. I even got “chased” by a huge green
moray. Actually, we were probably just going in the same direction, but
I didn't know that. What an exciting trip.
Blue Tang on a Coral Reef
Oh, I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Reid Tillery, and I'm
a native Floridian who has called this sandy old peninsula home for most
of my life. It is my great joy to share the best parts of my home state--in this case,
Key Largo--with you.
As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of Key Largo. After all, it has the best water clarity
and diving in all of the Florida Keys. That’s because of the way the Gulf Stream flows, and
where this island is situated.
Key Largo Sunsets
To help orient you to life here at latitude 25 North, you should know that
one of the day’s big concerns in the Florida Keys is deciding where you’re
going to watch the sun go down. I mean, sunsets are a big deal
At day’s end, people gather here and there to watch a half hour or so of
nature’s great light show. Even after the solar fire ball sinks beneath
the western horizon, the show goes on with an ever-changing array of
light and colors that can truly be described as awesome.
Sunsets here are truly
Watching a beautiful sunset seems the perfect and fitting end to a day of SCUBA diving,
snorkeling, fishing, shopping, or just lying around a being lazy.
According to the guys who draw lines on maps, Key Largo is just above the Tropic
of Cancer, so it’s plainly sub-tropical. But its coconut palms,
bougainvillea, briny breezes, and balmy nights give it a delightful
ambience that is about as close to tropical as you can get without
actually being tropical.
Bougainvillea and Coconut Palms
adorn Key Largo
Many Happy Returns
Since that first visit, I’ve come back to Key Largo
on various occasions, mostly for the diving and snorkeling. Lately,
however, my wife and I have visited here to get away, kick back, and
explore this narrow little island from north to south--all 33 miles of
What we learn, I’ll share with you in hopes that it’ll make your time here as enjoyable as possible.
Navigating US 1
we’ll go over what there is to do on--and under--the water. Key Largo
has world class SCUBA and snorkeling. You may want to take your own
boat or catch a dive or snorkel boat out to one of the beautiful coral
reefs for which this island is famous. If fishing is your thing, you can
use your own boat, rent a boat, or hire a captain. Ever
wanted to swim with a dolphin? You can even do that here, too.
- Then, I’ll give you the lowdown on where
to stay. Whether you like fancy hotels, cheap hotels, RVing or just basic
tent camping, you'll find it here.
- Of course, you'll want to know where to eat
on the island. Like many who come here, you'll
probably enjoy some Florida lobster and genuine key lime pie
. Maybe you'll catch on to Cuban cuisine and dine on black beans and rice with fried
bananas, topped off with a "tacita" of super strong Cuban coffee.
- We’ll also review some interesting stuff about the island's history and culture. Naturally, we'll talk about that
great old Key Largo movie starring Humphrey Bogart
and Lauren Bacall. “We had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall,” sings
Then, we'll check out the African Queen--another great Bogey movie--and her connection to Key Largo.
And who can think of the Florida Keys
without Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville " running around in
their head? Buffet has made an entire career by capturing in music
the essence of being down and out in the lower
- Oh, and did you know, that the Florida Keys actually seceded from the Union
and formed the Conch Republic. It was a big joke, mostly, but
Keys folks dance to a different drummer, and the Conch
Republic is alive and well in people’s hearts here.
- Finally, I'll tell you about
some cool stuff to do near Key Largo—like visit the Florida Everglades, Bahia Honda State Park,
and other activities.
Before we go further, here's a tip to help you navigate along US 1 in the Florida Keys. The start of US 1 in the Keys is considered to be in Key West.
From there, the road is marked every mile by a Mile Marker (MM)--a green Florida Department of Transportation sign. MM 0 starts at the Key West post office. MM 106.5 is north on Key Largo where US 1 and County Road 905 intersect. Other than MMs, locations are designated as Bayside or Oceanside.
Address numbers relate to the location's MM. Locations ending in an even number are Bayside, and those ending in odd numbers are Oceanside.
Got it? Great. Now, let's go explore Key Largo.
Let your explorations begin with this virtual "tour"...