Vessels intentionally sunk to create artificial reefs serve as refuges for fish, delicate corals and invertebrates — and provide fascinating sites for divers to explore. Within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which protects the waters surrounding the entire Keys, lie nine notable wrecksites that are part of the popular Florida Keys Wreck Trek.
The islands of Marathon in the Middle Keys appeal to multigenerational families and recreational boaters with facilities including cozy inns, luxury resorts, waterside vacation homes, RV parks, marinas and plenty of dining and natural attractions. Highlights include the world-renowned Turtle Hospital, Crane Point Hammock, historic Pigeon Key and the iconic Seven Mile Bridge.
Key Largo, the northernmost island in the Florida Keys, stretches from mile marker 107 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway to mile marker 91. It’s called the Dive Capital of the World — and it first became famous when the 1948 movie "Key Largo," featuring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, hit the silver screen.
The Florida Keys island chain offers scores of opportunities to reconnect through shared experiences and memory-making adventures like kayaking or exploring the coral reef. One of the Keys’ most popular action-packed adventures, and one that typically inspires good storytelling, is fishing — whether in deep blue water, along the reef or in the backcountry.
To reconnect with the natural world of the Florida Keys, immerse yourself in the island chain’s many open-air areas where seclusion is intrinsic. Wander along sandy beaches, discover nature trails through hammocks and rainforest areas, or explore the clear blue waters surrounding the Keys. Or find natural gems during a hike or bicycle ride.
In keeping with the global “Restore Our Earth” theme for April’s Earth Day 2021, it’s easy to participate in meaningful, memorable activities in the Florida Keys such as diving, snorkeling and even Snuba, a hybrid of the two. But whatever the underwater activity, it’s important to practice the principles of coral reef etiquette.
One of nature’s greatest wonders is a living coral reef — and the only one in the continental United States parallels the Florida Keys. That means the island chain is an unbelievable place to learn to scuba dive. Professional dive instructors actively teach all year, and aspiring divers can find instruction throughout the Keys.
Among the Florida Keys’ most iconic landmarks is the "Christ of the Abyss" statue, placed in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1965. Also called “Christ of the Deep,” the 9-foot bronze is a symbol for Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which is part of the sanctuary.
As well as human visitors who come to the Florida Keys for rest and renewal, marine creatures in need also come calling. Some have health problems, while others are injured, orphaned or lost. Throughout the island chain, ailing sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whales encounter dedicated professionals and volunteers ready to provide care.
This winter, angling aficionados can vie to win a two-destination vacation to fish freshwater and saltwater species — in the “Northernmost to Southernmost Fishing Trip Giveaway” that spotlights recreational angling in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, and the Florida Keys. The two locales feature the northernmost and southernmost points in the contiguous United States.