The Florida Keys are a favorite getaway for Floridians and out-of-towners alike. Comprising 44 islands linked by 113 miles of roadway and 42 bridges, it’s a vast and varied tropical destination worthy of months of exploration. For a week-long vacation, it’s best to choose one island as your base and Key Largo, the biggest of them all, measures more than 30 miles long. It’s particularly famous for scuba diving. But sea lovers can also spend their days snorkeling, sport fishing, swimming at various beaches, or participating in dolphin encounter programs. This five-day itinerary touches on a bit of it all, with plenty of time on the water.
ItineraryPLAN YOUR TRIP
Day 1 Introduction to Key Largo
Check in at the Reefhouse Resort & Marina for your four-night stay in Key Largo. This stylish resort has an outstanding waterfront location, which makes it a favorite among scuba divers. Take advantage of the waterfront views and get a room with a balcony. After settling in, explore the 17-acre property. Try out amenities like a fitness center, full-service spa, several pools, and beach access along the Gulf of Mexico.
That night, partake in a happy hour of frozen drinks like strawberry mojitos or piña coladas at Flipper’s Pool Bar. It will whet your palate for the seafood feast to come. At Gus’ Grille, dine on lobster tail or coconut-crusted grouper while you bask in the gentle sea breezes.
Day 2Into the Everglades
Get oriented at Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and learn about ranger-led activities happening that day, such as kayaking or bicycle tours. Or ask about the top places to stroll the boardwalks, and where you have the best chances to spot alligators swimming or herons stepping through the waters.
As the sun begins to lower, that’s your signal to return to Key Largo for a memorable dining experience at the Fish House, an iconic Key Largo spot full of local flavor. Don’t miss the Fish Matecumbe–the house specialty–featuring locally caught fish topped with tomatoes, onions, and capers.
Day 3Venture Deeper
Next up, the African Queen. Yes, it’s that African Queen, the steam engine-powered boat from the 1951 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. The voyage departs from the Marina Del Mar and navigates the Port Largo Canals to the Atlantic Ocean. The small group size means you can expect lots of interaction with the captain and fellow passengers.
Following the boat ride, enjoy a quiet dinner at Key Largo Conch House. This family-owned spot inside a cozy, peach-colored gingerbread house features fresh takes on favorite regional dishes centered around sustainable seafood, like conch tacos and fish crusted in coconut and macadamia. It also provides a slew of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Day 4Fun on the Water
Next on today’s agenda is a visit to Dolphins Plus (which also runs the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammals Responder, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing dolphins). During the Caring for Dolphins Demo, a professional trainer educates visitors on how the facility cares for these sea mammals. But those interested in something more hands-on can schedule a private swim to get a one-on-one experience with one of the animals.
On the other side of the Overseas Highway lies your next destination–Cruisin’ Tikis. You’ll embark on a two-hour cruise while the sun sets over shimmering waters. Plus, you can even bring along your own snacks and drinks.
You’ll disembark at Snooks Bayside Restaurant, your lively dinner destination for the night. Find island-inspired dishes like pistachio-crusted yellowtail with chili beurre blanc and shrimp cakes garnished with sweet Thai chili and mango chutney. And if you’re still energetic after all the day’s activities, you can stay for drinks and live music.
Day 5Key Largo Wildlife
Finally, depart Key Largo on a sweet note. At Café Moka, order one of their famous almond croissants and a coffee to go before journeying back to the mainland. Or, if time permits, you can take your order to the courtyard and dine al fresco one last time, relishing the sea breezes and warm, tropical air.
While relishing the sea breezes and warm, tropical air, it’s the perfect place to reflect on your extraordinary trip to Key Largo. Hopefully, Those laid-back vibe from the islands will linger long after you return home. Whenever you need another dose of relaxation, you know you can always return.