The Ultimate Guide to the Florida Keys

Heading to the Florida Keys for some rest and relaxation or exciting adventures? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know for a memorable trip. The Salt Life team knows their way around the sun-soaked southern tip of Florida, and are excited to share their favorite places to eat, dance, and of course, fish and dive.

 

Here is our ultimate guide to the Florida Keys…

Fishing Adventures

The Florida Keys are home to some of the best sport fishing in the world. For queen snapper and blackfin tuna, Salt Life team member Capt. Don Dingman recommends checking out the Islamorada humps, a very popular fishing spot in the Upper Florida Keys. The Hump is technically a a large underwater mound that extends upward, also known as a seamount. The current collides with the mound allowing for deep waters, which are ideal for dropping bait to catch queen snapper. For the shallow waters, he suggests trolling feather lures across the surface for blackfin tuna.

Diving Deep

Looking to dive below the ocean's surface? There are plenty of awesome ship wrecks to explore off the coast of Key West. Snorkeling in Alligator Reef is a favorite for Captain Don and his family. You never know what you might find lurking in this patch of blue heaven.

 

If you are looking to do some spearfishing while you snorkel or scuba dive, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of great spots throughout the Florida Keys. Two of the most popular spearfishing spots are the north shore coral heads around the top of the keys, and the reef that spans the length of the keys.

 

The coral heads are only about ten feet deep, making for an easy free dive experience. The best spearfishing spots here are within the coral’s inner circle. The best strategy is to dive slowly and swim close to the bottom, where you can find scores of good sized grouper, hogfish, and snapper under the ledges in the corals.

 

Spearfishing in the Florida Keys reef is another very popular spot. Located about five miles off the shore, the water is Bahamas clear, making it gorgeous for diving and easy to spot prize fish. Due to its pristine water and warm temperatures, the reef can become crowded, scaring away some of the best catches. However, there are some legal spots that are less traveled where you can dive in peace and find big grouper and other great eating fish. Want to make a contribution to the reef through your fishing efforts? Spear a lionfish. This species is becoming too common and saturated in the reef.

Day Trips

For inland, family-friendly excursions in the Florida Keys, Salt Life team member Demi Landers recommends the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory where you will find beautiful species native to South Florida. The History of Diving Museum in Islamorada is another great cultural experience where you can learn all about the sport of diving. While you’re there, make sure to check out Andreas Franke’s art display that team Salt Life had the pleasure of helping install.

For adult vacationers, check out Florida Keys Brewing Company in Islamorada, and Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery in Key West. Don’t miss the cocktail making class at Papa’s Pilar where you can sharpen up on your craft cocktail skills and learn some tips and tricks to take home with  you.

Night Life

You might visit the Florida Keys for rest and relaxation, but don’t rest too hard - there’s dancing to be done! Salt Life team member Nicole Spenc recommends Lorailes for a drink and dancing on Duval Street in Key West.

 

For a more family-friendly affair, Captain Don and his family regularly share a pizza at Bayside Gourmet, or feast at the Shrimp Shack in Islamorada. The Shrimp Shack serves up tasty and unique dishes using fresh fish caught that day. Captain Don recommends going with “Senator” style, where the fish of the day features a crushed almond crust and a topping of mushrooms, scallions, and garlic butter. Sounds delicious, right?

 

Looking for a more exclusive restaurant? Check out the Square Grouper in Islamorada. It’s a popular eatery so go early or be prepared to enjoy a cocktail while you wait for a table. Indulge in a flash fried conch appetizer and make sure to ask about their panko-crusted yellowtail that comes in the beurre blanc sauce of the day. Captain Don likes this dish so much that he replicates it at home.

Enjoy the Keys in Style and Comfort

The Florida Keys are stunning and almost constantly soaked in sun. When your salty lifestyle takes you down to the Florida Keys, you can count on Salt Life for the gear you need to stay cool, comfortable and stylish. With a full line of hats, visors, shirts, neck gaiters, and sunglasses, you are sure to find the right look for you. If you forgot to order online before your trip, don’t fret. Salt Life has a  retail store located right on Duval Street!

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