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“Florida Keys Quick View” 5 of 5 stars
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Marlboro, New York
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Florida Keys Quick View”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2010

Florida Keys, May 2010: My husband and I recently returned from a two-week stay at the Hammocks bluegreen Resort in the Florida Keys, doing an RCI exchange as Hilton Grand Vacation Club members. Last year was our first trip to the Keys and we fell in love with the tropical environment and decided to return for a longer, more relaxing, stay. For anyone considering a trip to “The “Conch Republic” (a bit of history there), here are a few comments and tips from our perspective.
Hope you like fish because you will get your fill. The Keys is for the fisherman, at heart or serious. Many restaurants and resorts will cook your catch for you, adding a starch and vegetable, to make a wonderful, “catch-of-the-day” meal. Fisherman at heart can enjoy a party-boat versus a charter, which makes for a great time of fishing. The serious fisherman know what to do (lol). Keep in mind the Keys have only one road in and one out. Accidents cause major delays and closures. We sat for two hours and it gets pretty hot. Always have water and a snack (as northerners we do that in the winter but add blankets for warmth). Also keep in mind you are in a nature preserve. The recent oil spill is of a major concern to those who live and work in the Keys (as for all our other effected states). The wildlife is sensitive. If in Marathon, make it a point to visit the Turtle Hospital, the Dolphin Research Center, Pidgeon Key, and as many of the other preserve-related facilities as possible. True eye openers. If you are going to stay in Islamorada as we did last year, and you are going to buy groceries, do so before you get there. The closest grocery and other shopping is at least a half an hour away. Staying in Marathon this year made that no problem since there is a Publix, Winn Dixie, CVS, K-Mart, as well as small independent stores (to include Daffy Doug’s Dollar Store). In fact buying things when we got there lightened the travel load. Keys Fisheries and the Stuffed Pig were our favorite eateries in Marathon, but there are MANY places to eat. Road construction in Marathon is disruptive but not a show stopper. It was tough to get a fishing charter, so we had an outing on the Marathon Lady Party Boat (http://fishfloridakeys.com/marathonlady/). The Captains we spoke to recommended reserving a charter at the same time you make your other travel arrangements.
Key West is a PARTY TOWN. Don’t look for much quiet here. Lot’s of bars and eateries. The history: Truman’s Little Whitehouse, The Hemingway House, the shipwreck and pirate museums, the street entertainers at Mallory Square, and the trolley or train tours make it great for all ages. The weather was beautiful, with highs in the upper 80’s during the last two weeks in May, hotter in the summer. Tropical breezes help compensate for the hot sun, which makes for some beautiful sunsets. We personally love the Moonlight Cruise in Islamorada with Capt. Joe Fox on the Nautilimo, or take a group ride on his new Pirate Ship El Zorro (picture attached; website: www.nautilimo.com). Vessels are docked at Lorelei's Restaurant (another GREAT eatery where local Captains tell tall stories ;o)
Hope you found this information helpful. We will have a second posting for those who are Timeshare users doing an RCI exchange.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wilmington, Delaware
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Florida's Gulf Coast Keys Pretty but not the best”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2009

Florida's Gulf Coast Keys (Lido, Longboat, Casey, and Siesta Keys, etc.) are pretty, but no where near as beautiful as the Lower Keys. The water only looks blue when the sun is closer to the earth and hitting the water before noon. Unlike the water below Miami and in Cancun Mexico where it is crystal clear and blue in any weather and anytime of the day or night!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lorain, OH
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
“Some beach reviews...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2008

The Florida Keys are what you make of them. Yes, they can be expensive, but that is due to the cost of shipping items down there. I do not dive and I most definitely do not fish, but I love the laid back and low key atmosphere of the Keys. Although they are not known for their spectacular beaches, they do have a few nice ones, and I have included some of my favorite pictures. Smather's and Ft. Zachary are in Key West, and Bahia Honda is a state park just south of Marathon.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
89 helpful votes 89 helpful votes
“Experienced Travelers research their vacations”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2007

I'm so tired of reading about or hearing from people disappointed in the Florida Keys. Most of these people never took the time to research the area before taking a trip. The Florida Keys are definitely not for everyone; there are very few sandy beaches, most are hard, rocky coral beaches. Many people are surprised to find that there are no waves in the Keys; oceanfront or bayside. (To people who spend most of their beach vacations jumping waves and playing in the surf, this is a huge disappointment!) Highway 1 especially in the Upper Keys is pretty "tacky" with many rundown businesses and much construction. But, even there if you get off Highway 1 to either the oceanfront or bay you will find tropical beauty. If all you see of the Keys is Highway 1 through the upper Keys, you're definitely going to be disappointed. Me, I love the Keys. There is great natural beauty in the Keys, wonderful unique things to do and many interesting people to meet. I read several books and researched it a great deal before our first trip years ago, and was not disappointed. It is now our family's favorite vacation destination, we rarely go more than a year without a trip down there; yes, we have "Keys disease"!
The Florida Keys are not destinations for typical "beach" vacations or even true "tropical beach" vacations. Florida Keys beaches are not the reason people love the Florida Keys. If you're looking for long sandy tropical looking beaches to lay on or walk on; or nice waves to play in, you'd better look somewhere else. Remember, good vacation research and planning saves lots of money and disappointment!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arvada, Colorado
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Trip Report”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 18, 2007

Just got back from 4 days in the Keys and had pretty good time. Stayed at LimeTree Bay Resort in Layton. Hotels was pretty nice room was clean and have no real complants except the smell. There was alot of seaweed along the shore and it was rotting but there wasnt much the hotel could do about that. Pool and hot tub were nice. The hotel is located between Islamorada and Marathon but there isnt much around the hotel as far as food and drinking. Just a short drive to either city.
The Little Italy restaurant is right next to the hotel and has great food but a little pricey. The cracked conch was great.
Went on a guided fishing trip for tarpon and permit the first day and had a good time. Went out with Capt Juan Garcia of Beats Land Charters, great guide. Didnt catch the tarpon I was after, but caught 2 nice permit and a cuda. Would go out with him again.
We ate at Porkys in Marathon great ribs and I liked the atmosphere. The kind of place I thought we would find more of in the keys. It is right on the docks and open air a little run down but I thought it was great. We saw a 2 manatees swimming around the boats at dinner. Live entertainment and really laid back.
Took the drive down to Key West the second day. If your looking for the old relaxing Keys we sure didnt find it. Highway 1 from Homestead to Key West is a rat race. Went to Duval St and went to the Hogs Breath, Sloppy Joes, and a couple other bars and did some shopping. Had a pretty good time again, but its more of a tourist trap for the cruise ships.
Just vegged the 3rd day, went to lunch at Wahoos at Whale Harbor good food and views. Saw 2 more manatees swim around their harbor. Asked the waiter how often they come into the harbor and he said he had never seen them there. Guess we were just lucky.
Stopped at Robbies on the way back and feed the tarpon. Pretty neat spot just wish I could have brought a fishing pole out there. Lots of big tarpon and theyll eat right from your hand.
Had dinner at The Island in Marathon great food, you have to try the deep fried key lime pie. the BBQ Shrimp was great.
Took off early the 4th day and went to the Everglade National Park. Saw alot of gators and birds. Ok time
We enjoyed our vacation but didnt really find the Keys we were looking for. Probably will not go down again, If your looking to escape the rat race your better off heading to Mexico somewhere. Guess Im just a pirate 200 years too late!!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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