Driving the Florida Keys – Game Fishing, Country Inns, and Tropical Islands
Head south from the sparkling high-rise towers of Miami and soon one joins the iconic US Highway 1. This famous road, which crosses the alligator-infested swamps of the Everglades National Park, heads down to the southernmost point of the United States and the island city of Key West. As it goes, this ‘Overseas Highway’ strings together, with causeways and bridges, some 43 of the many hundreds of islands and coral atolls that make up the unique archipelago of the Florida Keys.
This is a fishing environment that is unique in the world, with a variety of prize game fish. Even better, there are two oceans to choose from; allowing you to fish the warm waters of the Gulf to the west in the morning and then in the afternoon and early evening take your luck in the deep sea of the Atlantic.
The first island, Key Largo is home to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary offering world-class eco-tourism and a stunning location for snorkelers and scuba divers.
It’s a perfect place to make a stop on this classic America road trip, and enjoy some barefoot elegance at a quintessential luxury inn. On the nearby historic Tavernier Key is ‘Coconut Palm Inn’, an intimate beach front hideaway that faces out over the Gulf of Mexico. Its private beach offers tranquillity with hammocks hanging between coconut palms, and classic Adirondack chairs looking out over the water. The suites offer space and comfort together with the almost priceless luxury of a sunset view over the gulf.
The property has two piers and can arrange exclusive charters, allowing you to reel in some of the biggest fish in the ocean including blue and white marlin, acrobatic sailfish, kingfish and swordfish. Deep sea fishing off the keys is best enjoyed with one of the many experienced charter captains available, and on board a luxury air-conditioned long-range ocean yacht. It’s little wonder that this is one of the greatest salt water fishing destinations in the world. With an eco-friendly, sustainable fishing approach and catch and release policies, visitors are sure to find plenty of fish.
After a day or two of exhilaration and excitement on the open ocean, take to the highway again and drive to the romantic and historic island city of Key West. The road-trip covers a series of 42 bridges that link the keys, the most iconic of which is ‘Seven Mile Bridge’ connecting Marathon Key with the lower keys.
Before long one reaches Key West and the southernmost point in the continental United States. Key West is legendary, an island of pirates and sunken galleons loaded with treasure. It’s also a superb holiday destination with luxury hotels for the most discerning clients.
To get a feel of the real, laid-back, tropical Key West stay in an intimate resort. Key West’s only Leading Small Hotel of the World, is the boutique ‘Santa Maria Suites Resort’, one of the top rated properties in Key West. Close to lively Duval Street, famous for its luxury galleries and varied eateries, and one block from the ocean with access to a private beach, it is in a secluded and peaceful location. Sophisticated one and two bedroom duplex suites feature state of the art entertainment and sound systems, broadband Wi-Fi, and spa-like bathrooms with lux amenities. Pool concierge is on hand for Caribbean smoothies and cocktails and to offer an islander’s insider knowledge of the best bars, restaurants and clubs in town. The resort’s Japanese restaurant, ‘Ambrosia’ offers some of the finest sushi cuisine in Florida, using ocean fresh produce from the Keys.
With vintage timber clad homes, painted in pastel shades, swaying coconut palms and vibrant sunsets, Key West provides a romantic end to an exciting journey that takes you from the glamour of Miami to the relaxation of the Carribean.
This article first appeared in the Feb/March edition of TOUT Magazine.