It is the longest of the Florida Keys at 30 miles and is the uppermost key connected via the "Overseas Highway" US 1. The chain continues southwest for just over one hundred miles. The drive along the Overseas Highway to Key West is a slow but scenic trip over which one will travel across over 40 bridges and 30 keys. These are part of the oldest living coral reef in the Western hemisphere.
There are actually very few natural beaches along this chain of islands but this is more than made up for by the stunningly beautiful blue-green waters. The area is a water sports paradise with some of the best snorkeling, diving, and fishing in the country.
There are many small islands surrounding the keys. Some of these are worth exploring by boat which can be chartered or rented at numerous facilities and marinas. The north end of is still relatively unpopulated and mostly wilderness.
A visit to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a must for snorkelers and divers. The park encompasses almost 80 square miles of protected reef offshore.Numerous concessionaires within the park and surrounding area offer snorkeling, diving and glass-bottom boat rides at the reef. One of the more popular dive spots features a 9-foot bronze statue, 'Christ of the Deep' resting on the bottom in about 20 feet of water. Within the land area of the park are one of the few small beaches as well as a few miles of canoe/kayak trails throughout the surrounding mangroves.
Nearby is the small but interesting Maritime Museum. It has on display treasures, artifacts and related maritime items from different fleets that sailed from the 1600s to 1700s.
To the south
is Islamorada the self-proclaimed "Sport
Fishing Capital of the World". Islamorada has many charter boats
and hosts fishing tournaments throughout the year. Also at Islamorada
is Theater of the Sea which offers structured dolphin swims.