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beaches in the keys

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indiana
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beaches in the keys

I am aware there are really no lodging facilities on the beach (noticed there were some parks with beaches) in the keys..My question...I love Florida and usually go to Sanibel..I do love the beach...I also just love Florida and the wildlife..Is it possible for a beach lover to go to the Keys and enjoy what it has to offer..I know this is a broad question, but I have checked out several places on the web and many places look very inviting... we do know how to boat and I know that is probably somewhat a must when visiting down there...Is it possible to still get in the ocean at these resorts and wade out in the ocean or is it deep immediately...I will get down there one of these days if only to tack on a few more day to my Sanibel vacation and venture down for a few days...

North Metro ATL, GA
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1. Re: beaches in the keys

sanibelfan -

A drive down through the FL Keys to Key West is something everyone must do before they die. It's good any time of the year, but for someone coming from the north during winter, it's absolutely amazing.

As far as beaches are concerned, I can think of Anne's beach at MM77 or so (on the left), Bahia Honda State Park down below the Seven Mile Bridge, and a series of beaches in Key West along the Atlantic side of the island. Friends of ours also beach camped in Long Key State park last year, and loved it.

For the nature side of things, I would recommend Crane Point Hammock in Marathon, Big Pine Key for key deer watching, and Pennekamp Park in Key Largo.

Driving in a straight shot, you could get from Sanibel to Key West in 5-6 hours, but I would recommend taking your time and stopping/veering off the main drag whenever you see something that looks interesting. Also, stop at the fruit stands in the strawberry fields around Homestead/Florida City, and fill your cooler with mangoes, vine ripened bananas, and other goodies. If you have even more time, I would recommend taking the old two lane highway across from Naples, you'll see trees full of egrets and other birds, and alligators lurking in the canals.

Man, I want to go down there right now!

South Jersey
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114 posts
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2. Re: beaches in the keys

the beaches in key west aren't what you would normally think of as a nice tropical beach. the beaches are very "nature-like" with lots of kelp on the beaches and rocks and things of that sort. even though they're very nice it's not like going to a beach in anguilla or anything.

but the drive up to Bahia Honda for a few hours is really nice. rent snorkel gear from the shop in the park and you can spot barracuda, turtles, and stingray if you're lucky

Summerland Key...
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3. Re: beaches in the keys

If you love Florida and its wildlife, you'll love the Keys. Bahia Honda is nice enough of a beach to satisfy the need to lounge and swim a bit, and the clear water more than makes up for the total lack of shells. You can snorkel or kayak and see more marine life in a half hour than you've probably seen in all your times in Sanibel. There are also several state parks, nature centers and trails that pop out of nowhere -- all worth exploring for the interesting vegetation alone. It's a whole different climate down here, so there are many tropical plants and birds to learn about. And then there are the Key deer, which are just too darn cute.

The water is actually quite shallow except where canals and channels have been dredged. Most of the shoreline is rock, with very little natural sand. You'll find many places to explore the shore and shallows.

I would be cautious about boating here if you're unfamiliar with the waters. Much of the area is a preserve of one sort or another, so there are serious penalties for running aground and damaging resources. Not to mention that it's hard bottom, so you can damage your boat or yourself.

indiana
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4. Re: beaches in the keys

islandkitty,

Great to hear about the abundance of wildlife..Thanks everyone for the info...Sounds like it would be worth the drive down for a few days...My husbands cousin just bought some land in Big Pine Key (I think that is right) and they love it down there...They do not live near us, so I have not been able to talk to them much about the Keys. We have similar taste, so I am excited about venturing down there...My daughters are 12, so a whole week might not be in the cards right now, but it sounds like they would like it..They are not high maintenance kids and love the laid back Florida too...Thanks again

Summerland Key...
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5. Re: beaches in the keys

Let me know when you decide to come down and I'll give you the lowdown on the best nature spots. (Anything to help a fellow Hoosier!) Parmer's Resort on Little Torch (bayside) or the Big Pine Fishing Lodge (oceanside) are nice family spots conveniently located between Marathon and Key West.

Westwood, NJ
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6. Re: beaches in the keys

What is there to see at Crane Point Hammock? How much time would you allow there?

Summerland Key...
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7. Re: beaches in the keys

They have a nice little museum, plus a fun-for-kids area outside. There are four or five trails, a wild bird rehab center and a couple of historic structures. If you really wanted to wander intently in search of interesting plants and critters, you could probably kill three or four hours there.

Summerland Key...
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8. Re: beaches in the keys

Or you could spend an hour and a half and get a good sense of the place. I'm pretty serious about plant/bird ID because I'm a nature freak, so I can spend days wandering in the woods.

Marathon, Florida
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for Marathon, Islamorada
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9. Re: beaches in the keys

I can't believe no one mentioned Sombrero Beach in Marathon! (Key Vaca) It's free, not as crowded as Bahia Honda and you can wade forever without it getting deep. (really, you can do that most anywhere in the Keys) It's fairly shallow all over. If you like wildlife, you will love the Keys.

tampa
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10. Re: beaches in the keys

Hi,

we just returned from a week in Key West. We went to the beach everyday at Ft Zachary Taylor Park. There is alot of shells and coral on the beach and great rocks too. Wear your watersocks and you will be fine. The water was beautiful, and there are restrooms on the beach, and trees. The cost 6.00 for 2 of us to get into the park and save your receipt because you can leave and come back the same day. The sand is not fine like Sanibel, but the water and beach was still nice and not crowded. When the cruise boats dock, you will see more people on the beach, but it will not be crowded.