Bella Vida by Letty

Florida Keys

What to See and Do in Key Largo Florida

Key Largo

Did you know Key Largo is located approximately one hour and twenty minutes from the Miami International Airport?  If you are visiting the Miami area it would make a great place to spend the day.  Key Largo is an extraordinary place.  The weather is divine all year round averaging in the mid 70’s from December to March and upper 80’s the rest of the year.

There is something here for every taste.  You have the Everglades flora and fauna on one side and a completely different one on the other side hosting incredible fish covered coral formations of the only living coral barrier reef to the east.

The Everglades zone is perfect for kayakers, birders, hikers, eco tourist and fishing.  There are hundreds of protected acres in Key Largo including the Crocodile Lake Wildlife Refuge.

Key Largo Florida

Locals call Key Largo the scuba capital of the world.  Just a few miles off shore lie some of the world’s most beautiful scuba diving experiences.  The Florida Keys Reef Tract is the only living coral barrier reef in North America and is the 3rd largest in the world.  Lucky for us the majority is located in a protected sanctuary preservation area.  The protection has helped stabilize the overall health of the reef tract.

Some famous dive and snorkel sites off Key Largo are:  The famous bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss, Spiegel Grove Navy ship, Benwood Wreck World War II shipwreck and Bibb and Duanee US Coast Guard cutters.

You can find every type of boating and water sports rental here.  Take a charter boat and go deep sea fishing.  The Gulf Stream and the fish are right off shore.  If it’s too rough you can cross to the Florida Bay and fish in calm water.  If you love playing on the water have fun splashing around on a jet ski.  If it’s relaxation you’re looking for take relaxing sail to watch the sunset.

Things to do in the Florida Keys 2

Here are some more in depth reviews I’ve written about what to see and do when you visit:

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park 

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center 

And for some extra inspiration.
Key Largo Road Trip: Things I Found at the End of the Road

 

Have you been to Key Largo?  What was your favorite thing to do there?

 

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Visiting Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center is a great place to stop and stretch your legs.  Located in a beautiful setting in Key Largo beside the gorgeous Florida Bay is a maze of boardwalks taking you past an incredible amount of bird species.

What is it?

It’s not a zoo or a theme park but a bird rehabilitation center dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating ill, injured or orphaned birds with the goal of releasing them.  The birds at the center are either recuperating or unable to survive in the wild.

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is a charitable organization and relies on donations to keep the Wildlife Hospital running and all the associated expenses of caring for the birds.

Things to do.

Take a self guided tour along boardwalks and nature trails for a close up look at a variety of bird species like hawks, ospreys, spoonbills, owls, egrets, etc.  On the day I went they even had an adorable little hummingbird.  You never know what you might see.  The employees are very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions.

The resident birds live in spacious creative screened enclosures but you will see free birds like pelicans and egrets hanging around as well.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

At the end of the boardwalk you will find an amazing nature trail along a wetlands area with some of the most beautiful views of the bay.  There are even places for you to sit.  It’s the perfect spot for photography lovers.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

The center is free to visit but you are welcome to make a donation.  You will really want to do so if you get the opportunity to visit.

Helpful Travel Tip

The best time to go is early morning.  There is a pond off the bay where you can photograph wild birds coming to feed.  Morning is also the best lighting for your photographs.  I went around four pm and had to deal with very harsh bright lighting.

Helpful Travel Tip

You cannot see the place from the road.  A medium sign directing you to the place is all you will see.  Drive down to the end of the road to reach your destination.

 Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Have you been here yet?  What did you see on your visit?

Can you tell from the photos I absolutely fell in love with the bay?

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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

This post is part of the series exploring the Florida Keys, focusing on Key Largo in particular.  A wonderful place to visit.  Encompassing 70 nautical square miles, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the United States first undersea park.  The park is named after Miami newspaper editor, John Pennekamp whose activism helped establish the Everglades Nation Park and preserve this body of water.

The most amazing and famous feature at this park are the coral reefs and the marine life.  There are several ways for you to experience the coral reefs; a glass bottom boat tour, scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

There are many tours to chose from.  Since I love boat rides because I find them peaceful and relaxing I took the glass bottom boat tour.  I visited in March during spring break and there were no crowds.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Helpful Travel Tip

Check the marine forecast before getting on the boat.  Water conditions are posted at the ticket counter.  The day I visited it was windy and the waters were moderately choppy which is still pretty rough.  You won’t feel it on the drive out but once the boat stops you will really feel the sway of the ocean.

If you are prone to seasickness there are over the counter medicines you can take before getting on the boat to keep you comfortable.  Thankfully I don’t suffer from seasickness but friends who do have had better results with over the counter solutions and not with the bracelets.

The waters are crystal clear and we saw a variety of marine life, crabs, lobsters, fishes and sea turtles.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Helpful Travel Tip

The shores of the Florida Keys are rocky not soft white sand.  Bring water shoes.  What you see at the shore is not the same you will see deeper off shore.  You will have to take a boat ride out to see the coral reefs which begin three miles out into the ocean.

Things to do:  Camping, Fishing, Boating, Picnic, Swim, Canoe, Kayak, Boat Rental, Boat tours, Snorkel tours, Scuba Tours, Trail hike.  The visitors center has a beautiful 30,000 saltwater aquarium

Helpful Travel Tip

There are many tours and trips to chose from and you can usually find coupons on their website.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Things to do in the Florida Keys

Have you been to John Pennekamp State Park?  What did you do there?

 

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