1 Alabama Jack’s, Key Largo
The ideal place to start a road trip and get some Florida Keys attitude; it’s located on Card Sound Road, a toll-road through the mangrove swamps from Homestead to the Florida Keys. Alabama Jack’s sprawls along the side of the highway, built on pilings over a waterway lined with wobbly floating docks. It serves great conch fritters, sweet potato fries, grouper sandwiches and crab cakes.
â€¢ Mile marker 99.4, 58000 Card Sound Road, Key Largo, +1 305 248 8741, southflorida.menupages.com/restaurants/alabama-jacks/menu
2 John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
This park in Key Largo is popular for snorkelling trips that head to the reefs every day (below left). The reefs are too far to reach by swimming, but you can also snorkel from the manmade Cannon Beach towards remnants of a shipwreck that have been placed 30 metres from the shore. You can rent all the gear you need.
â€¢ Mile marker 102.8, floridastateparks.org/pennekamp/
3 Robbie’s of Islamorada
The big draw at Robbie’s Marina, which organises snorkelling and fishing charters, is the chance to see huge tarpon swim around the dock in clear water only a few feet deep. You pay $1 to go out on the dock and it’s $3 for a bucket of fish pieces to toss (or hand-feed if you dare) to them.
â€¢ Mile marker 77.5+1 305 664 8070, robbies.com
4 Pigeon Key
This little island (above), surrounded by dazzling blue water, is a singular place with beauty and history. Take a boat tour from Knights Key to hear the story of the ill-fated railroad Henry Flagler started in 1908. Here you also stroll on the landmark Old Seven Mile Bridge.
â€¢ Mile marker 47.2, pigeonkey.net. Guided tours leave Knights Key, Marathon, daily at 10am, 12pm 2pm, returning at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4pm. Adults $12, children 5-13 $9.
5 The Turtle Hospital, Marathon
The Turtle Hospital rescues and rehabilitates injured sea turtles through a release programme funded by the admission price. The 90-minute tour teaches you about turtles and lets you feed the injured creatures in their tanks.
â€¢ Mile marker 48.5, turtlehospital.org, +1 305 743 2552. Open daily 9am-6pm. Adults $15, children 4-12
6 Bahia Honda State Park
This is the best beach in the Keys. It offers swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and impressive views of the old camelback bridge â€“ a vestige of Flagler’s failed Overseas railway.
â€¢ Mile marker 38.7, floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda. Concession service offers a snack bar, kayak rentals (from $10 per hour) and snorkelling tours to Looe Key national marine sanctuary (daily departures 9.30am, 1.30pm. Each trip provides 90 minutes of snorkelling. Adults $29.95, children $24.95; masks and fins rentable)
â€¢ For more information on holidays in the USA, visit DiscoverAmerica.com