All posts by Anne

Dolphin Encounters

Dolphin Encounters

Dolphin Encounters in the Florida Keys?…You Bet!  

Some very close Dolphin Encounters of the amicable kind could occur if you visit the places that I will show you below. But first let’s pay a short tribute to these lovely and friendly creatures of the seas that often visit us and come near our shores.

Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to porpoises and whales and of the many species of dolphins that we know exist (close to 40 species) the common bottlenose dolphins are the ones that we see more on these tropical waters.Dolphins are highly intelligent; they are warm, friendly and affectionate, truly a human’s good friend…So where am’ I going with this chat?

Dolphin encounters in the Florida Keys..But where?

I wrote this page to let you know that there are some places in the Florida Keys where the dolphins are the stars of the shows, and other places where they will swim with you, and share some memorable times, these are trained, intelligent dolphins that put up a great show and some are even much better performers than humans.

A common dolphin behavior, is flipping over the water.

If you are a boater or a diver you can expect to have an occasional dolphin visitation or close encounter…But don’t be scare it’s not a shark, dolphins swim in a different pattern, in an up and down circular undulating motion and occasionally flipping off the water, and the shark swim straight and steadily forward, so if you ever come close to one of them you’ll see the dorsal fin out of the water first, you’ll know what it is by its swimming motion.

Swimming with dolphins in the Keys!

These are some of places in the Florida Keys where I know that you can have an out of this world dolphin encounter. The fallowing echo-tours and locations will take you out to dolphin’s territory and have you very close to their natural environment in no time.

Swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Cove.

*At the Dolphin Cove in Key Largo you’ll swim and play games in the water with the dolphins. Before you get in the natural lagoon or cove to swim with your new dolphins friends Elvis, Alfonso, Kimbit or any of the 8 dolphins, you are given about an hour of marine educational session on the dolphins life and behavior and… you’ll be as close to be a dolphin’s expert in no time! The Dolphin Cove is located at the Mile Marker 101.9 on the Bay Side, Overseas Highway, in Key Largo. Phone number: 1 877-365-2683.

The Dolphin Research Center of Grassy Key in Marathon.

*The Dolphin Research Center in Marathon is another great dolphinarium to swim with the dolphins and learn about these marine mammals. This place is more than just experiencing a close dolphin encounter of the best kind, they also have, California sea lions, tropical birds, free roaming iguanas and a fantastic water park for the children. Located at 58901 Overseas Highway, in Grassy Key, Marathon, Florida Keys. Phone Number: 305-289-1121.

The dolphins and their trainer performing the show at the Theater of the Sea. 

*The Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, has a very impressive dolphin show that is worth your time to check, especially children love this kind of interaction between humans and the marine mammals, since the dolphins are trained to execute fun stuff and tricks, there are other marine animals like the sea lions, sharks, sting rays, also parrots and other birds, free roaming iguanas and the beautiful green lizards of the Keys. We can swim with the dolphins and watch the shows.The Theater of the Sea is located at 84721 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, Florida keys. Phone Number: 305-664-2431.

There are possible dolphin encounters during diving or snorkeling in different areas of the reefs or the open waters surrounding the Florida keys

*Dolphin Safari in Key West, is simply one amazing experience for children and adults alike, the dolphins swim very close to the boats, you can almost touch them, their team is passionate about the dolphins, is also snorkeling and sunset watching with this trips. Their phone number is 305-797-5491. 2319 Roosevelt Blvd, in Key West

*Sunset Watersports also in Key West have dolphin trips along with all the other watersports. Their number is 305-296-2554 and their location: 201 William Street, in Key West.

*Fury Water Adventures is another tour and watersports co. in Key West that I know has some great dolphin watching as well as snorkeling trips, sunset cruises, and lots of other fun stuff. Their number is: 305-294-8899 and their location: 237 Front Street, Old Seaport, in Key West

Dolphin up close.

These are some of the best that  I known-up close and personal dolphin encounters that you can try while in the Florida Keys. I have been there my self so I know that they’re optimum experiences for every one!

Map of South Florida


Road map of South Florida.

This map of South Florida will help you understand the best way to get to our must wanted destinations…Miami, South Beach, Homestead,  Everglades, Bill Bags State Park, Biscayne Bay, other National Parks, preserves, campgrounds, the Florida Keys and Key West..

View Larger Map

If you don’t know this area it could be a little complicated.

South Florida is a large territory, being the city of Miami the most populated area. South of Miami we have the fabulous Florida Keys, always being visited by people from around the world.

The Miami’s International Airport receives millions of passengers every year, many from other countries just coming over to enjoy our tropical weather, beaches, activities and touristic attractions. From this important airport visitors commute to the other locations in the Sunshine State, for a great vacation and holidays.

Other important cities of Florida are Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

On the map of South Florida you can see that the major roads or highways are the Florida’s Turnpike, the Interstates Highways I-95, I-75, I-595, US 1 and a few others.

Using this map while driving in South Florida, especially in the Miami and Dade County areas will be of great help to you.

Tell you about South Florida.

South Florida sure has a lot of important places and tourists hot spots.Beaches everywhere, excellent clubs and restaurants, the Everglades and other National Parks, art museums, big sports events, the mysterious Coral Castle, alligators farms, botanic gardens, famous people, seaquariums, Indian reservations with casinos, Disney World is not too far, lots of pretty women and finally the Florida Keys and Key West.
What else can we ask for?The South Florida weather is nice, too hot for some but not like that sticky heat of other tropical countries.It rains a lot during the month of May and June, and the hurricane season always brings a couple of windy storms every year but it’s a nice place to be.
We could talk about South Florida for a long time, but the important thing now is that you will be able to find you final destination and have a great time with us!

South Florida is this sun filled hot terrain with palm trees and big dreams!

Florida Keys Map

Florida Keys Map

The Florida Keys Map

Using Google Maps. 

Use the Florida Keys map to find your way around this vast territory. It’s easy to use!

The map allows you to scroll from one area to the other by just dragging the image, up, down, left or right. You can also get a closer view of the areas with the + or the – buttons on the left corner of the map. You also have four views of the map.

  • Map (shows the street map)
  • Sat (shows the satellite Image)
  • Ter (shows the streets with terrain)
  • Earth (shows a 3 D image)

View Larger Map

Also print the map and take it on the road with you. It provides high resolution satellite or aerial views of the terrain. Google maps can be use on mobile devices and tablets.

Clicking on the directions link located inside of the white square box in the middle of the map or that appear after clicking in the red circle with the “A” over Key West it will take you to a new page that displays a larger view of the map, you can find directions to locations, hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions here. On this window you can also see pictures and images of such places.

Clicking on search nearby will take you to a search box where you can type the name of a place and get a closer map view of the location, addresses, pictures, reviews and general information, ex.-Shipwreck Museum, Key West.

Driving along the Florida Keys.

The Florida Keys main route is Highway US 1, Over Seas Highway or Scenic Highway.

This is the main route to take to any area of the Keys but to reach certain areas you’ll have to depart from US1, that’s when using a road map will help you.

You can also ask for directions at the Tourist Information Centers along the way. There are plenty of these centers on this areas along the highway.

Driving in Key West.

Key West is the most complicated area of the Florida Keys where you will need to use a map to find locations, but it’s not a complicated city to drive through.

A good thing to do before you get to the city is to write down on paper the route that you are planning on taking…the street names, the turns, etc… from the road map and fallow along as you go.

The Florida Keys

Florida Keys

The Complete List of the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are so many (over 1000 islands) that had to be classified into three major groups:

  • The Upper Keys
  • The Middle Keys
  • The Lower Keys

*But before we get to the here and there of this territory let’s see what’s in the vicinity; who our neighbors are?

The Biscayne National Park.

At the northern section of these islands and located south of the city of Miami is the Biscayne National Park ( The first big and important island on the north side is Key Largo. But in between Key Largo and the Bicayne National Park are a group of smaller islands that some consider as part of the Upper Keys, however these are part of the Park itself)

The Biscayne National Park is 90% underwater, a huge portion of coral reefs, water, and smaller islands comprises it. An extensive South Florida wild life ecosystem inhabits the park, they depend on the park’s natural resources for food, nesting and shelter. *A must to visit tourist attraction in South Florida!

These islands located in this section of the north Key Largo in Biscayne National Park.

  • Soldier Key.
  • Ragged Keys
  • Boca Chica Island (Home of the Boca Chica Light House and the most popular island)
  • Sands Key.
  • Elliott Key.
  • Reid Key.
  • Rubicon Keys.
  • Totten Key.
  • Rodes Key.
The Boca Chica Light House.

The Upper Keys.

In Monroe County, the Upper Keys, are the closes to Miami. They are located on the north side of The Florida Keys, being the largest section Key Largo, which is a major touristic attraction and have the reputation for having the best diving sites of the Keys and shares a section of the Everglades National Park. And a south of Key Largo is Islamorada, the fisherman town.

  • Key Largo.( North Key Largo, Key Largo and Tavernier)
  • Tavernier. (Not an island itself but important place of Key Largo)
  • Plantation Key.
  • Windley Key.
  • *Islamorada-The Village of Islands and Sport Fishing Capital of the World(the group of islands of Islamorada, are Plantation and  Lower Matecombe, Indian and Lightnumvitae Keys, left and right)
  • Upper Matecumbe Key.
  • Lightnumvitae Key. And Indian Key (Botanical State Parks and Historic Sites, part of the Triangle of History) (both on either side the Matecumbe Keys and US 1,  accessible only by boat)
  • Lower Matecumbe Key.
Diving in Key Largo and fishing in Islamorada are the main things here.
The point at the Triangle of History in Islamorada. Lower Matecumbe, Lighnumbitae and Indian key.

The Middle Keys.

The Meddle Keys are…of course in the center section of the Florida Keys, where the Marathon group of islands and the Historic Pigeon Key.

  • Craig Key.
  • Fiesta Key.
  • Long Key.
  • Conch Key.
  • Duck Key.
  • Grassy Key.
  • *The Marathon Islands are comprised by Grassy, Crawl, Long Point, Fat Deer, Shelter, Boot, Vaca, and Knight’s  Keys)
  • Crawl Key.
  • Long Point Key.
  • Fat Deer key.
  • Shelter Key.
  • Vaca Key.
  • Boot Key.
  • Knight’s Key.
  • Pigeon Key. (The Historic Island can be seen from the section of US 1 over the seven mile bridge) 
Entry to the Old Historic Seven Mile Bridge, takes you to Pigeon Key.
Walking over the bridge to Pigeon Key.

The Lower keys.

The Lower Keys are at the southern end of the Florida Keys, this vast territory is where the exotic and festive Key West and the home of the Key Deer, Big Pine Key.

  • Little Dock Key.
  • Missouri Key.
  • Sunshine Key.
  • Bahia Honda Key.( Where the Bahia Honda State Park and Beaches)
  • Spanish Harbor.
  • Scout Key.( Summerland Key)
  • No Name Key.
  • Big Pine Key.
  • Little Torch Key.
  • Meddle Torch Key.
  • Big Torch Key.
  • Ramrod Key.
  • Summerland Key.
  • Knockemdown Key.
  • Cudjoe Key.
  • Sugarloaf Key.
  • Park Key. 
  • Lower Sugarloaf Key. 
  • Saddlebuch Key. 
  • Shark Key.
  • Geiger Key.
  • Big Coppitt.
  • Rockland Key.
  • Boca Chica Key.
  • Racoon Key.
  • Stock Island.
  • Key West.
  • Sisgbee Park.
  • Fleming Key.

At this point we find some outlying islands that are only accessible by boat or by the sea planes from Key West.

  • Dry Totugas (Home of Fort Jefferson)
  • Marquesas Islands.
  • Sunset Key & Wisteria Island.
Fort Jafferson *the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere”, in Dry Turtugas Natinal Park.

Florida Keys Bridge

Florida Keys Bridge

The Bridges of the Florida Keys

The first Florida Keys Bridge to be built was part of the Henry Morrison Flagler’s project the “Florida East Coast Railway, Key West Extension” started in 1905 and was completed in 1912. The huge project was a series of bridges and railroad tracks that would connect these until then almost inaccessible islands to the main land of Florida; 128 miles of railway starting at Biscayne Bay and ending in Key West.

Flagler’s railroad depicted in Russian news paper. *Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Public Domain.

The first section of the railway, from Homestead to Key Largo was almost in its totality built over insect infected swamps and wet lands, and in 1906 the 120 mph winds of a hurricane destroyed a big part of the work already done, 135 workers lusted their lives and big portion of the work had to be redone and rebuilt. But the work continued. Flagler was not going to give up!

The 80 years old and already blind Henry Flagler arrived to Key West victorious in January of 1912 aboard of his private railroad car”Rambler”The railroad extension was one of the greatest wanders of engineering of all times and it was named  the “Eight Wander of the World” by some of the most prominent people.

Some remaining sections of the bridge.

The railroad and bridges were damage and some sections totally destroyed by the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, but many sections remain erected until these days and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, over time this sections had become widely known tourist attractions, the sites for photographic scenarios and a few movies.

The Overseas Highway Bridges.

Later in the earlier 1940’s and using some of the sections of railroad bridges left undamaged by the hurricane, the construction of the Overseas Highway begun, some of the old railroad bridges were replaced by new  modern bridges, and in many sections the highway run alongside of the old bridge.

But there are more than one bridge connecting these islands, a total of 42 that I know of. These bridges and highway sections are joined together to form what we all know as “Scenic Highway”, “Overseas Highway”, “Florida Keys Highway” and the extension of  “US Route 1.

Paddling alongside of one of  the florida keys bridges.
One of the bridges.

Driving south from Miami and pass Florida City you’ll come upon the first sections of bridges that connect South Florida with Key Largo and once you get to Jawfish Creek you are officially in Florida keys territory. From this point on you’ll be driving southwest over the many other sections of roads, bridges and villages of the Keys.

The 7 Mile Bridge

The 7 Mike Bridge is the most commonly mention as the Florida Keys Bridge by people here; this historic and famous iconic symbol of the Florida Keys is particularly known for the eye-popping views and the impressive sunsets and sunrises that can be appreciated from here.

Driving over the iconic 7 Mile Bridge.

This is the bridge that connects Knight’s Key in the islands of Marathon with Little Dock Key in the Lower Florida Keys and is also the stage for the renowned Annual 7 Mile Bridge Run, where over 1000 marathon runners-athletes race over the bridge just for the challenge of a good race! The famous Florida Keys Bridge has also been the stage of some Hollywood movies.

Walking over the Old 7 Mile Bridge takes you to the historical island of Pigeon Key.

The Old 7 Mile Bridge, originally known as Knight’s Key-Pigeon Key-Pacet Channel-Moser Channel Bridge runs alongside the new Overseas Highway Bridge at this location. This section of bridge was constructed by Henry Flagler, (1909-1912) as part of the Key West Railroad extension and now it gives access to Pigeon Key from the side of Knight’s Key in Marathon. Running, bicycling and walking over the bridge to the historic Pigeon Key is a common recreational activity, and the bridge along with the island is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Bahia Honda Bridge

A section of Florida Keys Bridge where you can admire so great scenarios is at the Bahia Honda State Park and Beaches in MM 37 and the Lower Florida Keys, this is an area full of campsites and not over populated, where mother nature rules.

The bridge crosses the Bahia Honda Key Channel in between the Mile Marker 36-38 for a total of 12 miles, and is not too far from the southwest end of the 7 Mile bridge.

The Panoramic view from the top of the bridge at Bahia Honda.

If you exit into the Bahia Honda State Park you can walk over a trail that takes you to the top of the remaining section of the old bridge and you will see some stunning scenarios from this location. A real sightseeing dream!

What else is left to talk about the Florida Keys Bridge?…Fishing!

Most of the sections of bridges in the Florida Keys are excellent for fishing, and are popular fishing platforms. It’s been a popular method of fishing that it’s been booming for years; it’s plenty of snapper, tarpon, snook and permit beneath the spans of the bridges. You only need a salt water fishing license to be at peace with the law!

Fishing from one of the many bridges.

Some bridges provide access for shore fishing while others are better approached by boat but the thing is that anglers had been scoring big on these bridges.

This is a list of some of the Bridges that I know have fishing platforms and good size fish along the Florida Keys Highway.

  • Channel 2 Bridge at M M 73 in Islamorada and the Florida Keys Heritage Trail.
  •  Long Key Viaduct and Overseas Heritage Trail at M M 64.
  • Tom’s Harbor Viaduct at M M 60.
  • Seven Mile Bridge’s southwest end.
  • Little Dock Key Missouri Historic Bridge at M M 39.5.
  • Bahia Honda Historic Bridge M M 36.
  • Spanish Harbor Key at M M 34. Overseas Heritage Trail.
  • South Pine Channel Bridge at M M 30.
  • Bow Channel at M M 20.
Guys fishing on one of the platforms.

But to me the best 3 places for fishing in the Florida Keys are the Long Key Channel, Sugarloaf Key and the 7 Mile Bridge! Try your luck and let me Know!

Parking in Key West


Parking in Key West is not a big deal if you know where to find it. Finding free parking or places where to leave your vehicle in the major areas of Florida Keys is not a problem at all, and neither should be a cause of greater concern or a head ache.

Unlike in the big major cities, the Florida Keys are not a traffic overloaded metropolis, and besides, parking here is free of charge “almost everywhere”, except for the National Parks entry fees, and in the populated and touristic areas of Key West. The Key West parking picture is a bit different, parking is more strict and limited.

But if you have finally decided to take the enjoyable ride over the Scenic Overseas Highway to this tropics paradise pay attention because I will tell in this chapter where you can go to find parking in Key West!

Key West has some important points of interest that every visitor wants to check in the list amount of time, you might want to visit as many as possible while you are here so why to waste time lurking around for a parking space.

The Southernmost Point

Parking in Key West at the more celebrated landmark of all times! At the Southernmost Point of the continental US.

The Southernmost Point of the US “90 miles from Cuba” is the famous landmark that you don’t want to miss, don’t go back home without a photo standing next to it on a sunny day, because no one will believe that you were here!

 The two places where you can find free parking near the Southernmost Point (and the best time is in the early morning, later it would be more difficult to park, and besides there would be a long line of tourist posing next to the Point) are at the south side of Whitehead Street (near the light house and the Ernest Hemingway House) and in the south side of Simonton Street; from here just take a short walk to the Southernmost Point or any of the nearby places.

Once you have taken your picture next to this famous buoy-stone-monument that marks the end of the US solid territory you might decide to walk to the near Southernmost places, Southern…Hotel, Southern…Beach, Southern…this and that.

 From here depending on your available time and agenda you might decide where to go, but basically everywhere you go in Key West is worth your time.

The Southside Beaches

Smathers Beach, on Roosevelt Boulevard

Let’s say that you like to visit the nearby beaches on the south side of the island, South Beach and the Southern Most Cafe (same location and at only one block walking distance from the Southern Point on Duval Street; Higgs Beach or Smathers Beach (are a little farther away but with plenty of parking-some are paid parking so have packet change and smaller paper bills to pay with)

On Duval Street

The most popular street in Key West…if not in the World!…is Duval St.

Parking in Key West’s hottest spot.You could walk from where you parked on Whitehead or Simonton Streets to Duval (both run parallel to Duval) Duval has only one side of the street where you can free park and it’s a busy place so trying to park could be difficult and sometimes impossible so I would recumbent to park on nearby streets where you’ll find the pay parking meters or machines that are being implanted all over South Florida (these are time limited so fallow the instructions and come back to repay after the time expires or you could be paying a penalty (parking ticket) *in some you can pay with credit card.

Metered parking devices like this one are being used all over South Florida.

Caution: Do not park on designated residential parking zones ( there will be marks on the pavement indicating that is a residential parking zone, but some might be faded with the rain and not easy to read) and neither park on the sidewalks. *If you park in one of this no-no parking zones your car will be impounded and you will have to pay cash “big cash” to get it back because they don’t take checks or credit cards.

A Key West residential area.
Parking in Key West residential areas, only residents with city permit.

Parking at Mallory Square, Old Seaport, Bight, and north side of Duval St.

Parking at the Mallory Square, the Historic Seaport, Duval and the other streets in the north side of the island.

 Parking here is mostly paid parking, look for the metered curb side parking meters or much better is the all 24 hrs. a day parking lots at the Port, Mallory Square and Duval.

 The city owned parking lots in the Old Town, Historic Seaport, Mallory Square, and Key West Bight, 24 hr. all day parking.

The Art and History Museum, near Mallory Square.

*Mallory Square Parking Lot.

Located on the interception of Front and Wall Streets.

This is the best place to park near the attractions of the Mallory Square and the cruise ship dock, open from 8am – midnight.

At a rate of $ 32 day or $4 per hour.

*Key West Bight and Old Historic Seaport Parking Lot.

Corner of Margaret and Caroline Streets.

(305) 809-3864. $16 maximum payment for 24 hrs. parking or pay by the hour if you are just visiting the area for a shorter time.

Walk all day around the attractions of the Old Historic Seaport or take a sunset sail cruise from this location.

*Old Town Parking Lot. (24 hr. access)

Corner of Grinnell and Caroline Streets right across from the Key West Bight (Tampa-Key West) Ferry Terminal and the Old Historic Seaport.

 $13 maximum fee for 24 hrs. and $2 an hour, open day or night.

From the $13 fee at the Old Town Parking Garage you can Park N Ride the shuttles to the downtown area, Old Town, Mallory Square, and the Southernmost Point and take a tour around Key West, only present your parking ticket to the bus driver.

For assistance with payment call (305) 809-3910.

*The parking fees and rates above mentioned are subject to be change during special event like the Fantasy Fest in October.

During the festival the best option is to get here early in the morning and park in the city lots mentioned above, Old Town Lot on Grinnell or the Bright Parking Lot: the Mallory Square lot is smaller and fills up to faster.

 *This parking information applies only to cars, vans, motorcycles and passenger trucks only, not for RV, buses and trailers.

 *City of Key West. (For more detailed information)

3132 Flagler Ave. Key West, Fl. (305) 809-3700

Mac’s final resting place at the Old Sea Port, in Key West

Fishing Terminology

Fishing Terminology

A to Z Fishing Terminology

Lingo of the Salt Water Fisherman.

By studying this fishing terminology or glossary you’ll will increase your understanding of the art of the salt water angler in any part of the world. When you are a beginner angler is normal to confuse one thing for another or just to be confused by the terminology and the usage of the now unfamiliar language of the fishermen.

The A to Z Angler’s Fishing Terminology.

*Active fish.-It’s the fish that are feeding heavily at a certain time or area and are striking bait with more frequency.

*Angler-Person whose occupation or recreation is to catch fish, angler is that one who catches fish with a hook.

*Angling.-Angling is the art or science of catching fish with hook, bait, line and fishing rod or pole.

*Angling permit-fishing permit-fishing license.-Permit that you need to buy for certain fishing categories for sport, recreational or commercial fishing. *Refer to the Florida Fish and wild life Conservation Commission.

*Attractant.-It’s a substance anything else used to attract the fish.

*Bait-Anything attached to the fishing hook used to attract and catch the fish. Some prefer to use artificial, plastic bait or electronic lures, but the traditional natural baits like shrimp or smaller bait fish, are more attractive to the fish.

*Backlash or bird nest-A loop, tangle or snarl formed in the fishing line trapped under coils on the spool of a reel cause by overrunning the spool.

*Bag limit.-Limited amount of fish allowance that the angler may keep, catch or retain per day, size, amount or weight.

*Bait-Live bait or artificial bait.-food placed on the hook to attract the fish. Differed types of baits are use depending on the species of fish, size etc.

*Baitcasting-Casting a lure with a multiplying or bait casting reel. Fishing with a revolving spool and bait casting rod.

*Bait clip– A clip used to secure a baited hook close to the weight, this way preventing that the bait from swaying around and preventing the bait from flying off during the casting.

*Baitfish-Smaller fish that is used as bait for large size fish. Some popular baitfish are pinfish, Spanish sardines, striped mullet, strip mojarra, silver jenny, the Atlantic croacker, yellow mackerel, blue runner, ballyhoo or balao, pigfish, sand perch, sardines, and shrimp.

*Beachcasting or surfcasting-Casting a lure or a baited hook from the beach or a rocky shore.

*Bite.-When the angler feels that the fish bites or touches the bait.

*Bobber– Other name given to a fishing float in the U.S.

*Bottom fish-bottom feeder.-a fish that normally feed at the bottom.

*Bottom fishing-Placing a baited hook in the sea bottom held in place by a weight.

*Brackish-brackish water-briny water.-Water mix of salt water with fresh water. This water is normally near estuaries, river or streams running into sea water at some shores.

*Break off.-Term applied when the fishing line breaks and fish escapes.

*Bridge fishing.-Fishing from the bridges. *Common practice in the Florida Keys bridges along the sections of highway US 1.

*Bullet sinker.-A weight made of lead or steel and shaped like a cone that slides up and down the fishing line.

*Butt pad-A cup attached to a waist belt warn around the front and used to take the load of the rod butt when catching larger fish.

*Buzzbait-Buzzing.-It’s an artificial type of bait with propeller blades that creates a splashing effect when retrieved from the water to resemble a bait fish or wounded fish.

*Casting-throwing a fishing line into the water using a rod and reel.

*Charter boat-boat used for hire and usually piloted by an experienced boat captain.

*Chaser-Is a lure with a hook at the end of a chain used when trolling.

*Catch and release.-Catching the fish and immediately release it. State regulations required that some fish should be release immediately after caught.

*Channel.-It refers to a submerged water stream, a river channel or a waterway that connect two bodies of water and that is usually safe for navigation.

*Chum.-Typically cut up pieces of fish thrown into the water to attract other fish.

*Clarity.-Deep or distance that we are able to see an object in the water.

*Cove.-A small sheltered bay or inlet at a shore line.

*Cocktail.-Combining two or more baits on the hook.

*Crankbait-cranks-crank.-A wooden or plastic lure that dives when cranked through the water.

*Creel limit.-As set by the state regulations is the number of fish that angles can keep or carry. Check regulations.

*Dabbing.-Working a lure up and down in the same spot.

*Dip net.-A net with a handle used to catch baitfish.

*Disgorger.-A device used to remove the hook from a fish throat where is not possible to use the fingers.

*Dolphin, dolphinfish or Mahi-Mahi.-The Dolphins as we know is that highly intelligent and friendly marine mammal related to whales. But in the Florida Keys is common to name another marine species Dolphin, this other species of fish is the Mahi-Mahi also called Dorado in some latitudes. Many get confused by the usage of the word Dolphin to name the Mahi Mahi.

*Downstream-downcurrent-downshore.-Referring to the direction taken by an object or a particular location in the water

*Drift fishing.-Fishing while drifting with the current.

*Drop off. – A sudden increase in the depth of the sea bottom, pinnacles, canyons or channels.

*Egg sinker.-An egg shaped fishing weight with a hole through the center for the line.

*Eyelets.-The line guides on the fishing rod.

*Feeding times.-The times of the day when fish feeds and is more active. Experienced angles associate the position of the sun and the moon with the fish behavior and the feeding times.

*Fillet.-Method used to separate the portions of flesh from the bony skeleton of the fish for human consumption.

*Fishing gear.-Is the fishing equipment used by anglers and commonly known as tackle.

*Fishing techniques.-These are the methods used by the anglers for catching fish, some fishing techniques are angling, spear fishing, trapping, hand gathering, netting, commercial fishing, recreational fishing. Fishing techniques and varied depend on many factors, targeting species behavior, locations, and the anglers knowledge.

*Fishing lures-a lure it’s a decoy, bait designed to look like fishing bait that moves and vibrates to attract the fish and is placed at the end of the fishing line and attached to the hooks. Different types of popular lures are the spinner or spinning lures, the jig is a lure with hooks that jerk up and down in the water, and the fly lure looks like an insect “a fly”

*Fishing reels-The fishing reel is a cylindrical gadget or device attached to the fishing rod and is use for winding and gathering up the fishing line. There are different types of fishing reels, but the spinning (fix spool) reel is the most practical and used. Most reels come with the anti-reverse system to prevent reel from spinning in reverse.

*Fishing rod or fishing pole.-Fishing rods are normally made of fiber glass, graphite, carbon fiber, bamboo and stainless steel. Fishing rods are identified by their weight and length. The rob should have a gradual taper from the butt to the tip and be designed to fight different size and variety of fish.

*Fishing line.-Fishing line is a cord used for angling and made of different materials, weights and lengths, nylon the monofilament fishing lines are the most commonly used. Monofilament these lines have the qualities of being able to stretch more and last longer than other types of lines.

*Flat or Backcountry Fishing.-Flats or backcountry fishing, or fishing the back country flats is a terminology used throughout South Florida and the Keys to mention the art of fishing in the shallow and not to deep waters of areas near the shore line’s where abundant species of fish (coastal fish) lives and reproduce at all times. Flat fishing is not a complicated and easy to learn. Also inshore fishing.’

*Fly fishing.-Fishing or angling with and artificial fly for bait as a lure.

*Florida rigging-Florida Rig.-In Florida rigging the hook is secured to small plastic worm or bait so that the hook doesn’t protrude. How to accomplish this? A weight sinker is threaded into the line and the fish hook tide to the end of the line. The hook is inserted into the soft plastic bait and brought through until only the eye remains embedded into the bait, then rotating the hook so it becomes embedded into the body of the bait.

*Free spool.-The reel that allows the line to be feed without drag or any resistance.

*Game fist.-Marine fish pursued by anglers for recreational or sport fishing.

*Gear-fishing gear.-Any of the tools and equipment used for fishing.

*Honey hole.-Term used to describing a particular spot or area where catchable is grouped and gathered.

*Inactive fish-inactive time-lockjaw fish.-Referring to fish that is not in the feeding frenzy or mood at an inactive time of the day. Weather changes and cold fronts are cause of inactive times and changes on fish behavior.

*Jerkbait.-A plastic bait that resembles a darting bait fish when jerked during fishing.

*Jig fishing-jigging-fishing with a jig.-Fishing using a type of fishing lure named a jig. A typical jig consists of a sinker with a hook used to attract fish.

*Keeper.-It’s typically any fish that is worth taking home.

*Line guides.-The rings through which the fishing line passes on the fishing rod.

*Livebox.-A box where live baitfish or caught fish is kept.

*Livewell.-The compartment on some boats where designed to hold water to keep the fish alive and fresh.

*Long-lining.-Trolling a bait a long distance behind the boat.

*Lure or fishing lures.-A fishing lure looks like, resembles or is similar to bait fish, it’s attached to the end of the fishing line and when is in the water moves or vibrates, the lure has hooks attached to its ends and sides, so the fish will think that is a fish or food and bite.

*Lunker-Hawg.-A large gamefish.

*Marker buoy.-Used in fishing to mark the location of a large school of fish in open water.

*Migration route.-The pass fallowed by the fish when migrating from one location to another.

*Mono.-Monofilament fishing line.

*Moon times.-Experienced angles know and study the action of the moon over the marine species.

*Outrigger.-Is a pole or devise used to keep the fishing lines from tangling when using the method of fishing called trolling in which one or more fishing lines are thrown behind a moving boat.

*Overfishing.-Fishing without caring for the fish population.

*PFD.-Life jacket or flotation safety device.

*Possession limit.-The maximum limit or amount of fish that a person can possess at one time.

 *Pro.-Elite fishermen who make a living from fishing.

*Reef fish.-Fish that lives near or in the ecosystem of the coral reefs.

*Salt Water Regulations.-Salt water fishing is regulated to avoid over fishing and protect our ecosystem, get familiar with these regulations to ensure you a good fishing experience and no complications. Refer to (fishing regulations section)

*Shoal.-A submerged bar, bank or ridge.

*Shore-fishing.-Fishing from the shore.

*Short strike.-Fish hits the lure but misses it.

*Size limit.-Legal size of the fish caught. Refer to. size.

*Sinker.-A weight used to sink the line.

*Sink and draw.-During lure fishing the rod is slowly raised during retrieval and thrown back, the lure appears to be a wounded fish using this method.

*Skiff-flatbed skiff. – These are smaller in size boat for one person or small crew with a flat bottom and normally used in shallow or not to deep coastal waters for back country or flats fishing.

*Skirted lure.-A lure use for trolling that resembles a squid.

*Slack line.-The loose section of line in between the tip of the rod and the lure.

*Sport fishing.-Sport fishing competitions take place in the Florida Keys very often but the term sport fishing does not only apply to competition, any form of angling for recreational proposes is considered by many as sport fishing.

*Tackle.-Is the equipment used for fishing, hook, lines, floats, reels, lures, baits, traps, spears, rods, gaffs are considered tackle. Terminal tackle is the gear attached to the end of the fishing line; tackle box is where the angler keeps the gear.

*Trolling. – When we trail a baited line to catch fish from behind a moving boat or vessel, or to be more precise, trolling is a popular method of fishing behind a moving boat with one or more fishing lines baited with fish bait of our choice. This method of fishing is more used to catch deep sea fish as sailfish, mackerel or king fish, and trawling is the method of fishing used when a net is drawn through the water instead of lines and is used in commercial fishing with the idea of catching large quantities of fish.

*Trolling backwards-Back-trolling. – Making the boat move backwards, a boat controlling method used to make certain maneuvers while trolling a lure in front of the boat.

The Mahi-Mahi, Dolphin Fish or Dorado.

Key Largo Map

Key Largo Map

The Map of Key Largo

Use the here embedded map of Key Largo to find your way around here. Fallow the same driving rules used in every other city of the continental USA… and be safe! The speed limit is very important when driving on US 1, and it’s enforced by the law. Once you get to US 1 past Florida City (south of the Florida Turn Pike) the speed limit is on 50’s, and the highway patrol is at it.

View Larger Map

This map shows where all of these major tourist attractions are located.

Key Largo is only two hours away from the main land, from the point at the end of the Florida Turnpike and beginning of US 1,  Florida City. The other way to get to the north or Upper Key Largo area is through the Card Sound Road and Bridge when driving from the main land, Florida City. The Upper Key Largo areas have Botanical State Parks, National Wild Life Refuges, Marinas, the John Pennekamp State Park and the Underwater Marine Sanctuary. 

It’s the first of the the Florida Keys when driving south on US1. It extends from Mile Marker 107 to Mile Marker 90 on the Highway.The big Welcome to Key Largo and the Florida Keys sign will let you know of your arrival here. US 1 is the main drive that communicates to all of the areas of the Florida Keys.

What to do in Key Largo?

Kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, many forms of fishing,recreational boating, para sailing and eco tours are some of the most common activities of the Florida Keys.

When you are here look to be outside a tune with Mother Nature, possibly bird watching, hiking on nature trails, looking at the wild life, manatees, dolphins, etc.

This town has some of the best hotels and resorts on the Florida Keys these days. And the friendly staff wants to make sure that you will want to come back to have a great time here!

History Of Key West

History Of Key West

The History of Key West it’s thoroughly unusual and captivating. The Conch Republic was nothing but a burial ground when Ponce De Leon arrived in 1521. There the name Cayo Hueso “Island of the Bones” came about, and even till this days some Spanish countries know the island for “Cayo Hueso”

The first inhabitants of these tropical islands during the Pre-Columbian times were the Calusa people, a Native American population who lived on the coasts and wetlands of Southwest Florida, and that for some reason they use Key West as their burial ground.

The Calusa were known to travel the areas of the South Florida Peninsula in canoes.

There are no bones scattered over Key West now and when people died they are taken to the local cemetery to rest. The island had gone through the evolution and transformation of modern times to become what is known now as the Conch Republic.

The arrival of Ponce de Leon.

During the times in which the first Spanish Europeans headed by Ponce De Leon got to Florida there was not much to explode in the Florida Keys but because Key West had a reliable supply of fresh water they decided to stay here.Juan Ponce De Leon was in search of the mystical “Fountain of Youth” when he arrived to the Florida territory in April of 1513. He name it La Florida in recognition to the Easter Season and the flowered and green landscape.
Juan Ponce De Leon. (Spaniard)1474-1521. *Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Public Domain.

Being Key West a large island located on the westernmost end of the US, in the busy shipping lane of the Straits of Florida between the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic, close to the Caribbean and only 90 miles from Havana made Key West and important point consequently.

History of Key West as a US Territory.

There were some ownership disputes of Key West during the 1800’s during the times in which Florida was transferred to the United States. Later the Island was sold to John Simonton a US business man for $ 2000 pesos, later sold to General John Geddes, previous governor of South Florida.

During this period in which the Florida Keys were claimed as a US territory and the US flag was planted for posterity the Navy took interest in using the island as a base to fight piracy and slave trade.

It was in March of 1822 when Lt Commander Matthew C Perry arrived to Key West on the US Navy schooner “USS Shark” and planted the US flag here, declaring these islands a property of the US. Thomson then renamed the island now Key West to “Thomson Island “in honor to the chief of the Navy Smith Thomson.

1856 Key West Town.*Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Public Domain.

The earlier developers and the most influential people in Key West History.

After purchasing Key West, Simonton sold the now subdivided territory of the island to other business men and developers. These entrepreneurs started to build the city that we now know, and as you discover Key West, you’ll find their names scattered here and there, since some of the important streets and places had been named after all these famous historical figures.

The four most important developers of Key West’s earlier years:

*John Whitehead. “Whitehead Street” A business partner of Pardon C. Greene and developers of PC Greene and Co. Died shortly after the Civil War.

*Pardon C Greene. “Greene Street “He was the head and founder of PC Greene Co. He later became the mayor of the city for a brief period. Died in 1838.

*John Simonton “Simonton Street “He helped to establish the naval base in the island. He resided in the island only during the winter months and in Washington during the summers. Died in 1854.

*John W.C. Fleming. “Fleming Street “A good friend of John Simonton, spend only a short time in Key West and died shortly after his return to the island.

Sloppy Joe's Bar on Duval and Greene Streets, Key West.
Sloppy Joe’s on Duval and Greene Streets.

*The most famous street in Key West “Duval Street “running north and south of the island is named after William P Duval, the first governor of the state of Florida. Duval Street Guide.

The Conchs, the wrecking and the islands economic development, and some very important points on the Old Town Key West. 

Now days the residents of our city are very proud to be called Conchs, but many people don’t know that the first Conchs to arrive were people with European ancestry who transmigrated here from the Bahamas after 1830.

*Conch. “A resident of Key West”

*Salt Water Conch. “Person born in Key West”

*Fresh Water Conch. “Person who had lives in Key West for several years but wasn’t born here”

*When a baby was born the family would place a conch on a pole in front of their home

The shipwreck salving or wrecking was the mayor industry and business during this years. “the years of the wrecking fever” made Key West the richest city in Florida.

The other two mayor industries were fishing and salt production. In the 1880’s it was the riches city in Florida. Wrecking has a very important place in the History of Key West.

The Shipwreck Museum of Key West, located at the Mallory Square.

The Civil War

In 1861 during the Civil War and when Florida joined the Confederate States, the island remained allied to the States of the Union because of the Naval Base and the auxiliary forces that were present here, contrary to the increasing large support and sympathy of many residents for the Confederates. Many Confederate flags were flown over the roofs of the city.    

Fort Zachary Taylor was an important military base during the Civil War. Later the West and the East Martello Towers were built and were connected by railroad tracks for the movement of ammunition and artillery from one fort to the other.

The Overseas Railroad marks a key point on the 
History of Key West.

With the Henry Flagler’s construction of the Overseas Railroad Extension from Miami to Key West the isolation from the main land ended. From 1912 until the 1935’s Labor Day Hurricane that destroyed the bridges and railways, the railroad was the main transportation system of the Florida Keys.

After the construction of the railroad the Florida Keys became more accessible and popular, more and more business men, politicians, presidents, artists, writers, army retires and high ranking officers, labor workers, common people and some outlaws and crooks, became interested in visiting or residing in the island either permanently or temporarily.

Famous personalities who had visited or lived in Key West.

*Ernest Hemingway, the famous writer’s wife Pauline’s rich uncle purchased this house 1931 as a wedding present for Hemingway. The Hemingway’s House & Museum, 907 Whitehead St, is open to the public and a is famous tourist attraction.

*Jimmy Buffett, the acclaimed “island escapism” musician had made recent history in Key West. His famous song Margaritaville was riten here. Owner of the Margaritaville Bar and Restaurant, 200 Duval St.

 *Tennessee Williams, the writer of “A Street Car Named Desire “stayed at the Concha Hotel in 1947 and bought this house here in 1949, located at 1431 Duncan Street, but the house is not open to the public.

*Harry Truman the 33rd president of the US visited the island an stayed here for long periods. His Winter White House in Truman Annex is open to the public.

*Franklin Roosevelt 32nd president of the US visited Key West in 1939.

*Dwight D “Ike”Eisenhower 34th president of the US stayed fallowing a heart attack.

*John F Kennedy was here shortly after the conclusion of Cuban Missile Crisis during the Cold War in 1962

*Thomas Edison.

Other important historic events.

*The Cuban immigration to Key West begun as early as 1860 during the Cuban War of Independence from Spain when some politically persecuted Cubans sought refuge in the island.

Being so close to Havana, at only 90 miles, made the island of Key West a point of interest to Cuban immigrants and after a while more than 10 000 Cubans were living, visiting, working or doing business in Key West. Some of the Mayor of Key West had been Cuban descendants.So that’s how Cubans had an role in the History of Key West.

Cuban cigar shop “Cigar City USA” at El Meson De Pepe, in Mallory Square.

*The United States Navy’s Battleship USS Maine departed from Key West to Havana, Cuba to serve during the Spanish American War in 1898, and it was sunk by a sudden mysterious explosion while anchored in the Havana Harbor. The US press blamed Spain for the mysterious sinking that until this days it remains unsolved and open to speculation. The bodies of many of the battleship sailors and crewmen were buried at the city’s Cemetery.

USS Maine Battleship Memorial.

*The Mariel’s Boatlift. Later during the 1980’s Cuban Mariel Boatlift many more refuges came to the island and even some Cuban airplanes were hijacked and forced to land at the city’s international Airport.

*The Conch Republic. The city declared its independence and officially named as theConch Republic as a protest for the blockade of US 1 (main road connection the island to South Florida and the rest of the Keys) The blockade came after the Mariel Boatlift as a way to try to stop the trafficking of drugs. The blockade caused big traffic jams and delays on the motorists traveling on the highly used highway.

*The “Sunward” was the first passenger cruise ship to dock in the islands Navy’s pier, at the Truman Annex. Now they dock at the Mallory Square’s where the sunset celebration takes place every evening.

The Military and the Naval Air Stations.

Due to the strategic location of Key West located near the deep navigation channel connecting the Atlantic with the Gulf of Mexico the military had kept its interest and presence here over the years,

The first military keystone was Fort Zachary Taylor, fallow by the East and West Martello Forts. Then during War World II the Navy took more interest and invested more in the areas of the island.

Conclusion to the History of Key West.

I think that for now you will have better understanding of how the Conch Republic became what is now one of the most visited attraction of South Florida and the reason for Key West having so many historic sites and historical monuments.

Conch Republic.

Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Safety Tips and Boating Information.

The safety tips for navigating in the waters of the Straits of Florida presented in this chapter are basics that every adventurous boater, fisherman or sailor should know. *These basic techniques also apply to navigating anywhere worldwide and not only in our coastal waters.

Since coral reefs, sea grass and shallows are abundant here all around the islands there are things that you need to know to ensure a safe return home; these corals, rocks and sea grass are within inches of the surface in many areas, some near shore and others on the open waters.

Navigating in the waters of the Florida Keys requires that you know some important things.

Some navigation instruction, training or education should be attained before trying to navigate these waters, remember that so many ships sunk in these waters in the past, that the Florida Keys became the wrecking capital of the world. Check in Florida Keys History “And shortly after…the wrecking began!”

The Great Florida Coral Reefs Track is the third largest coral system in the world and it extends from the Biscayne National Park, south of Miami and all the way to the Marquesas Islands, 30 miles west of Key West. So navigating any where in these areas near the Keys requires that you know how to avoid “running aground” with your boat, the use of navigation charts, safety and good seamanship.   

Safety Tips

The color of the water

*The color of the water is a very important factor not to be ignored. Remember these safety tips.

*CAUTION! Brown water.*Don’t go through any colored brown water; find your way around, brown color means that the water is too shallow and that coral formations might be  present. Running aground is dangerous for you; your boat and it will damage our very sensitive coral reefs.

The color brown indicates a shallow water area or coral reefs.

*CAUTION! White water*. The water around sand bars will appear white, sand bars are shallower than you can predict and any boat will run aground here. Stir your way around sand bars.

White water indicates the presence of sand bars and shallows.

*SAFER! Green water*. Safer for skiffs, small size and flat bottom boats. Larger size boats should be cautious on green waters! And also take in consideration the tides and the ocean currents.

Green waters are safer for small boats but pay attention to signs, indicators and buoys.

*SAFE! Blue water*. Deep waters appear blue. Normally these waters are free from corals, sand bars or sea grass but keep in mind those coral reefs formations could increase in high surprisingly in some areas. Use the reef mooring buoys or the sandy areas to anchor, never anchor in the coral.

Blue water indicates that the water is deep enough and safer for navigation.

Use the navigation charts

*THE NAVIGATION CHARTS. Boaters should carry, know how to read and use marine charts, tide and current tables for the waters they are navigating.

The NOAA navigation chartsand tablesfor U.S and international waters are complete, reliable and updated regularly.These charts are printed in high quality paper, colored and detailed for clear understanding.*Contact the NOAA charts publication department for more detailed information. They are also available at every marine supply store of the Florida Keys.

NOAA nautical charts website.-

What to do and not to do if you run aground

*RUNNING AGROUND means that your vessel had run onto a reef, sand bar or the bottom of the ocean floor and now you’re helpless and stuck in the middle of nowhere.

First of all don’t panic, turn off your engine right away. Radio the Coast Guard Marine Patrol, using the VHF channel 16 for assistance; give an account of the situation, your coordinates, location and a description of the vessel.

Boaters should have a good operational radio with batteries. A cell phone could be used if not too far from shore but the communication is limited in the water, (dialing CG-coast guard works in some areas)

*Don’t try getting out by yourself unless you’re a very experience captain because it will damage your boat and the reef farther more creating more damage, do not shift into reverse or try to push free across” assess the situation. Be cool! Check for hull damage, condition of the tide, and your location.

Safety Tips

Other safety tips for navigation

*BOATING EQUIPMENT. Life jackets for each person on board and an additional floating device that can be throw over board , hand held and dated flares, at list three for night and day distress signals, a sound producing device, horn, bell or whistle, fire extinguishers, an navigation lights.

Life inflatable jackets and floating devices should be on board.
Shop all Life Jackets and PFD’s at West Marine

*SPEED. The speed is regulated on busy or dangerous navigational channels and is marked by speed zones and markers. Never speed up in shallow waters.

Watch the signs, buoys and speed indicators.

*DIVERS DOWN FLAGS. One of the Florida Keys recreational activities is diving. Thousands of scuba divers and snorkelers come to admire the coral reefs and dive sites. Watch for divers in this areas that should be marked by the diver down flags, don’t run ever them, go around.

Divers are required to make aware of  their presence in the area by using flags on floats.

*WEATHER. Don’t navigate with rough weather; check the weather prior to going out, the weather channel provides 24 hr. information.

*PROTECTED SPECIES. You find many animal protected species and plants in the shallow waters. Green sea turtles, hawksbill sea turtles, green sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, leatherback sea turtles and fresh water turtles, manatees, the American crocodile, dolphins are all protected species.

The coral reefs are also protected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And are part of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary.

Florida manatees can be found in fresh water rivers, estuaries and coastal waters.

My honest recommendation is that you should study and get educated on all of the aspects of boating safety and navigation before you go out at sea. Study the curses offered and approved by the U.S Coast Guard and qualified institutions. The safety tips and techniques offered in this section are just a small fraction of the things that you need to know to become a proficient boater.

For more information about boating in the Florida Keys go to the NOAA and the U.S Coast Guard

Be safe, fallow our safety tips and we’ll see you soon!