The Florida Keys have more in common with the Caribbean islands than with the US coast. Although most of the Islands south of Florida have a Vulcanic origin, the Florida Keys is a coral cay archipelago. The northernmost island starts just 15 miles south of Miami, while the west and the south edge is just 90 miles north of Cuba. The Florida Keys cover 137 square miles and are connected with road, with the longest bridge being the Seven Miles Bridge. Picnic Island is a small uninhabited island in the Lower Keys with changed geography since the last hurricane.
If you’re planning to explore the tropical delight of the southernmost part of the continental US, and you’re coming from across the ocean, you will need esta approval. You can get esta online, and the procedure is relatively straightforward. Visitors from 39 countries in the Visa Waiver program can apply online and get esta permit within three days. Esta Visa is valid for two years, and you can explore the US for up to 90 days.
What to do on Picnic Island
Picnic Island is a small islet in the Newfound Harbor Channel between Palm Island and Little Torch Key. On Picnic Island, you can find an adorable sandy beach, many anchored boats, and Cap’n Jack’s Houseboat, the only permanent resident of this beautiful piece of tropical paradise. Besides warm sand, the island has numerous palm and other trees that throw precious shade.
Sea is perfect for swimming from April till late November, but summer is also rainy and hurricane season. The best time to visit is from November till May. Weekends can attract lots of crowds, but you can find you secluded place if you come early.
Best bars in the Florida Keys
You can find numerous bars along the Overseas Highway, but some tacky places don’t deserve to be on our list. The top things to look for in Florida Keys bars are a great view from the terrace, a great tropical atmosphere, and enjoyable food and drinks.
No Name Pub is among the oldest bar in Lower Keys opened in 1936. In the past, before Google Maps, visitors struggled to find it, and luckily now, you can enjoy classic American food, No Name Pub’s famous pizza, and a variety of cold beers.
Caribbean Club in Key Largo is another bar from the 1930s and was shown in Humphrey Bogart’s classic Key Largo. You can find numerous basic tables under palm trees, reasonably priced drinks, and laid back atmosphere with a sea view.
Tiki-style bar and seafood restaurant Snappers is another Key Largo popular destination. You can watch games on giant screens, enjoy live music or explore an extensive beer and wine list.
Suppose you like perfect sunset, head to Lorelei on Islamorada. The bar offers live music every night, various tropical drinks with a view of the sand beach and mangrove island in the distance. The house special is Key Lime Pie and Key Lime Colada.
Sunset Grille & Raw Bar in Marathon, Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, and Boondocks Grille & Draft House in Ramrod Key are among other top bars in the Florida Keys.
Florida Keys nightlife
Although the Florida Keys are a top vacation spot, the nightlife is not as vibrant as you might think. Key West has numerous hotspots, but other places, especially in the upper and middle Keys, are much calmer at night. You can find a couple of venues with live music in Key West like Smokin’ Tuna Saloon and Hog’s Breath Saloon. 801 Bourbon Bar is another great bar in the town. Other notable nightlife places are Tipsy Rooster Liquor Store & Bar, Key West Pub Crawl Tour, Flying Monkeys, and the Rum Bar.
Florida Keys water parks
The Florida Keys might not be Mecca for nightlife, but you can enjoy numerous water sports in the whole archipelago. Keys Cable Park in Marathon will give you an excellent wakeboard experience.
Jacobs Aquatic Center is a public pool with numerous slides in Key Largo. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters will lead you to an incredible water world with beautiful marine life and multiple species. If you want a break from the beach, Key West has Splash Pad, great place kids can find relief from the heat, and grown-ups can sit on shaded benches.
Are there alligators in the Florida Keys
Swimming and enjoying watersports in the Florida Keys are mostly safe, but you should consider couple of things. Always pack your water shoes because keys are coral made, and you can experience sharp coral rocks that can injure you. Be careful while walking on the beach and snorkeling. Shark attacks are rare but can happen, and if you wondered about alligators, they don’t enjoy salty water, and you can find them only on couple of big islands. Big Pine Key has several freshwater lakes where you can find the alligators.
Foreign visitors need an esta florida permit just like any other US state. Make sure you have the positive answer before you make reservations.
Picnic Island and the whole Florida Keys are a unique place in the US that remind visitors of tropical Caribbean islands, with laid back atmosphere, beautiful sunny weather, and incredible nature.