If you want a tropical paradise, but don’t want to leave the U.S.? It’s time to head to the Florida Keys!
Here is how I would spend a day in the the Upper Florida Keys (Key Largo, Islamorada, Upper Matecumbe):
After grabbing a light breakfast from wherever I am lodging, or the Key Largo Conch House, I head over to my chosen dive charter bright and early. Once there I check-in and load my gear and air tank onto the boat, my wetsuit often draped around my hips due to the sweltering heat of the Florida summer.
After ride out past the mangroves, into the open ocean, the captain drops you right over ship wrecks like the SS Benwood and Mike’s Wreck, both teeming with wildlife and occasionally strong currents. Sites can also include Elbow Reef and Double North where you can weave through shelves of reef.
The keys are a certified divers paradise that doesn’t require a passport.
After a full morning and afternoon of diving, food is a must. One of my favorite eateries is Lorelei’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar where you can enjoy sitting over crystal clear water, and enjoy a basket of fried shrimp. It’s casual and dive-bar-esque feel is perfect for summer afternoons.
If you happen to have a free morning, the Conch House offers a quaint breakfast spot with wonderful gluten-free waffles.
When the sun begins to set, and the temperature cools the upper keys has unique shopping experiences for visitors and locals like. Village Square at the Trading Post in Islamorada is an instagram dream, with boho stalls and indoor boutiques for your perusal.
For a more general beach shopping experience look for the massive lobster statue. And no, I’m not kidding it’s literally a massive lobster on the side of the road. There you can find the typical beach souvenirs and clothes.