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.