Introducing Florida Keys & Key West
Before Henry Flagler completed his railroad in 1912 connecting the Keys to the mainland, this 126-mile string of islands were just untethered bumps of land accessible only by boat. (Little surprise, then, that their early economies were built on piracy, smuggling, ship salvaging and fishing). Flagler’s railroad was destroyed by a 1935 hurricane, but what remained of its bridges allowed the Overseas Hwy to be completed in 1938. Now, streams of travelers swarm down from the mainland to indulge in the alluring jade-green waters, laid-back island lifestyle, great fishing and idyllic snorkeling and diving.
The Upper Keys – from Key Largo to Islamorada – are cluttered with touristy shops and motels, and from the highway you can’t even see the water. But as you go further south into the Middle Keys, the land starts to open up, offering the startling realization that you’re actually driving from island to island. Trailing off like ellipses, the islands get smaller as you reach the Lower Keys, which is everything from Little Duck Key on. But far from petering out, the keys reach their grand finale at the end of the highway in Key West – many visitors’ favorite key of all.
Many addresses in the Keys are noted by their proximity to mile markers (indicated as MM), which start at MM126 in Florida City and count down to MM0 in Key West. They also might indicate whether they’re ‘oceanside, ’ which is the south side of the highway, or ‘bayside, ’ which is north.
The Florida Keys & Key West Visitors Bureau (
Florida Keys & Key West destination guides
Anyone will tell you Key West is a little kooky – and darn proud of it. In the words of one local: ‘It’s like they shook the United States and all the nuts fell to the bottom.’ The town’s funky, laid-back vibe has long attracted artists, renegades and free spirits.
Key West Day Trip
No visit to South Florida is complete without a journey to Key West! There are plenty of ways to enjoy your time on this culturally and history-rich island. You can take it slow with a leisurely day soaking up Key West's laid-back atmosphere, quaint shops and outdoor cafés or if you are looking for more activity, there are upgrades available.
Key West Sail and Snorkel Day Trip from Fort Lauderdale
Whether you’re an experienced snorkeler or you want to try something new and exciting, you’ll find Key West to be the perfect destination for fun in the ocean. On a day trip from Fort Lauderdale, you’ll enjoy Key West’s clear waters and tropical marine life on a 3-hour sailing and snorkeling trip aboard a 50-foot (15-meter) catamaran.