Bella Vida by Letty

Key Largo

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?

 

Inspire others. Share this!

Share this on Twitter

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?

8WHBSF9SHSZT 

Inspire others. Share this!

Share this on Twitter

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?

 

Inspire others. Share this!

Share this on Twitter

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

 Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

This is the first post of a new Florida travel series titled: Exploring the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a series of connected islands on Florida’s southern tip.  Some are smaller than others and there is only a two lane road taking visitors in and out of the keys.  Today’s trip is at the very top of the keys.  A wonderful trip if you don’t feel like driving all the way down to Key West.  This road trip stop is in Key Largo, Florida.

Instead of taking US1 straight down into the Keys we made a left onto Card Sound Road.  This is a small scenic two lane road that cuts through Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.  There are miles and miles of preserved West Indian tropical hardwood hammock.  You will see small boats on waterways and people fishing off short tiny bridges.  Somewhere along the road you will pass Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Yes, there are gators everywhere so be aware.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Once you reach the park there are a few parking spaces at the front.  There is a cemented trail as well as many other trails throughout the park.  There were families riding bikes around the looping trail on the day I visited.  A great way to exercise while having fun.

The park has over six miles of nature trails which is perfect for birdwatchers and photographers.  There are many shaded areas to walk and rest.  There is also a very cute picnic area with tables.  A great spot to fuel up which can even be a lovely backdrop to have a romantic meal.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

This was the first place I ever participated in Geo Caching thanks to the friendly park ranger who explained what it was.  Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS enabled devices or an app you can download to your phone. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  When you find the treasure, you sign the log.  Make sure to include whatever you’ve taken and what you have left behind.  Then share with others.  It was a lot of fun to hunt for treasure.
        

This park is a great way to observe the wildlife.  During April and October migratory birds are funneled into the Keys by the landform. Some tropical species residents you might see are: the white-crowned pigeon, the mangrove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo. Tropical vagrants such as the thick-billed vireo and La Sagra’s flycatcher are frequently reported in the park.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Butterfly-watching has rapidly grown in popularity since the mid-1990s; the park features an incredible diversity of species, including the Schaus’ swallowtail, silver-banded hairstreak, and both hammock and mangrove skippers. Rare tree snails feed on the lichens and bark of the tropical trees, and can be easily observed by park visitors.

Have you been Geocaching before?  Have you visited Key Largo?  Do you have a tip for me?

Let me know in the comments.

DJKL Mohawk Bird

This handsome guy has a mohawk.

Disclosure: By clicking on the links and making a purchase I receive a commission.  Please use the links for your purchases.

Inspire others. Share this!

Share this on Twitter

Key Largo Road Trip: Things I Found at the End of the Road

Key Largo Florida

 

Every so often I get the urge to get in the car in search of new adventures.  I recently set off on another road trip, this time determined to find roads which ended at the ocean.  It’s not too difficult a challenge to accomplish in Florida but it can be a bit tricky.  After discovering a road I’ve never traversed on a map we headed to Key Largo.  Card Sound Road is smack in the middle of protected lands and Florida State Parks which go on peacefully for miles upon unhampered miles.  There’s nothing out there except nature and a sprinkle of people canoeing alongside crocodiles in canals or quietly tossing fishing lines off bridges.  It is the perfect place for these types of activity.

Needing to stretch our legs one of our stops was at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park where we ended up participating in our very first Geo Caching.  Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS enabled devices or an app you can download to your iphone. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  You sign the log, include whatever you’ve taken and left then share with others.

For more info check out the website    Have you tried geocaching?

We had a blast searching for treasure and leaving behind a little something but had yet to accomplish our original mission.  Continuing on our journey we traveled down many streets until finding the perfect dead end road leading us to the shore of the Atlantic.

Key Largo Florida

What I found at the end of the road.

The end of the road separated from me from my routine and the excesses of city life.  The excess of people, manmade structures, noise pollution and constant rushing about.  It was not quiet nor absent of movement yet very peaceful.  I allowed myself to open up to receive what my spirit needed.

The first thing to hit me was the wind.  The air was salty and humid but it felt cleansing.  Closing my eyes I breathed it as deeply as I could.  This wind did not carry city sounds, only the loveliest of bird calls, beautiful sounds I hadn’t heard before.  My next realization, was there is no real end of the road.  Nothing truly ends.  There was plenty of life happening all around me.  There are no sandy beaches in the Florida Keys just lots of shells, rocks and wildlife.  Birds and fish preferring the deeper waters a few yards from me.  Not intimidated by my presence crabs, shrimp and snails crawled near my toes in clear shallow water.  One little fella even tried to hitch a ride on my leg.

Metaphorically what I found was the removal of boundaries.  We tend to walk around collecting imaginary boundaries and imposing limits on ourselves without analyzing why.  The moment you stop limiting yourself, you are opening yourself up to new perspectives and greater possibilities   Life has and will find a way to continue on as I witnessed at the end of the road.  Tossing out limitations will allow us to achieve ever greater things we have yet to imagine.

 

Key Largo Florida

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”   Nelson Mandela

 

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”  Martin Luther

 

“Change: A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn. ”   Helen Keller

 

Inspire others. Share this!

Share this on Twitter