A ninety minute drive south of Miami lies the island of Key West. The biggest and most well-known city in Florida's southernmost archipelago offers a vacationer a myriad of things to do and see. The experience of Key West goes well beyond the its sugar sandy beaches and clear emerald waters.
The Key West National Wildlife Refuge consists of all the keys except the Ballast Key. The land and water mass stretch 25 miles west from the resort city of Key West. The width of the refuge is 15 miles. Nearly 300 species of birds have been recorded within this refuge area and other southwestern Florida refuges. Visitors will find the boat access only islands clearly designated, open to public or restricted lands. A visitor center and a number of private outfitters along U.S. Highway 1 offer extensive details.
The Key West National Wildlife Refuge offers a visitor center on the mainland introducing and outlining visitation of the refuge islands. Paddling, nature photography and wildlife viewing opportunities are supreme. Certain areas are off-limits to visitors. These are usually wildlife nesting areas. Sea kayaking is a favorite area recreation offering a relaxing way to explore some of Florida's most pristine reaches. Outfitters dot US 1 providing guides along with gear necessary to reach the backcountry of the Keys. Excursions take the visitor to shallow flats where creatures such as spiny lobsters, stone crabs, barracudas, stingrays, and sea stars may be observed. The abundant birdlife is particularly enjoyed through a good pair of binoculars. Snorkeling and scuba diving are very popular recreations as well; rental gear is offered through private outfitters.
More Getaway Locations and Properties