Discover hidden gems in the subtropical island chain
A drive down the Florida Keys’ Overseas Highway is one of the USA’s most iconic road trips and is well-known for its spectacular views across the surrounding azure waters. But holidaymakers will also reap rich rewards by pausing to search out hidden gems located along or near the fabled highway.
For the road less travelled, arrive in the Upper Keys via Card Sound Road. Stop at popular local watering hole Alabama Jack’s, Card Sound’s only restaurant, which is said to have the Keys’ best conch fritters and a Key lime pie to marvel over.
In Key Largo, nature and art lovers should visit Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Gardens. This unique boutique property includes a beautiful inn, one of South Florida’s most sophisticated art galleries featuring world-renowned artists, and a lush botanic garden. Visitors can enjoy regular tours with a staff botanist. konakairesort.com
Near the southern end of the Upper Keys district of Islamorada lies Long Key State Park. Here visitors can paddle through connected lagoons and hike The Golden Orb Trail which winds through five natural communities to an observation tower that offers panoramic views of Long Key’s Atlantic Ocean-lapped shores. floridastateparks.org/longkey
In Marathon, Crane Point is one of the Keys’ most sensitive environmental and archaeological sites and offers a one-of-a-kind living record of local history. Visitors can explore the Museum of Natural History of the Florida Keys, the Marathon Wild Bird Center and the historic Adderley House. The unique property contains evidence of prehistoric Indian artefacts and was once the site of a Bahamian village. Along the rustic interpretive natural trails, it is also possible to see endangered native foliage, unusual geologic features, exotic vegetation and ancient ocean fossils. cranepoint.net
To discover the Keys’ marine environment, visitors to the Lower Keys can take an island-hopping excursion aboard Strike Zone Charters’ glass-bottom catamaran. Departing from Strike Zone’s headquarters on Big Pine Key, the tour includes snorkelling, light-tackle fishing, bird watching, the occasional dolphin spotting and a private island beachfront fish cookout. strikezonecharter.com
Unexpected discoveries await in Key West, too, including the historic, never-used Civil War-era fort called West Martello Tower, which is now the headquarters for the Key West Garden Club. Here beautiful indigenous plants and rare palm trees bloom against the weathered brick fort. Wonders include a huge tree grown over a narrow tunnel-like archway that you can actually walk through. keywestgardenclub.com
Experience the Florida Keys
Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762 456, www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk) is offering a seven-night holiday to the Florida Keys from £1,499 per person. Departing on 7 November 2016, this trip includes a two-night stay at the four-star Hilton Key Largo; a two-night stay at the four-star Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key, and finally a three-night stay at the four-star Southernmost Beach Resort Key West, all on a room-only basis. This trip also includes car hire for the duration and return international flights from London Heathrow to Miami with Virgin Atlantic. The price is based on two adults travelling, sharing accommodation.
For further information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit: fla-keys.co.uk