Florida Keys are the coral cay group of islands situated in southeast of United States of America and are considered the extension of Florida peninsula. The term ‘Key’ comes from Spanish word ‘Cayo’ which means “little island”. The only living coral reef in the continental United States can be found on The Florida Keys. There are more than 800 keys, spreading across 290 km. At the southern end of Florida, there are towns of Homestead and Florida City; they are called the Gateway to the Keys. Only 43 keys are connected via bridges. The longest bridge is a Seven Mile Bridge. With the numerous islands in Florida Keys, they are divided into four groups. Each group is unique in history, culture and activities. Tourism and fishing are the main industries of these islands. The attractions of Florida Keys are the beaches, historical landmarks, museums, dining experience and art galleries. The four groups are:
The Upper Keys
The Upper Keys are the islands located at the farthest north and closest to Florida’s mainland. The Upper Florida Keys are well-known for the two things:
- Scuba Diving
- Sport Fishing
The Upper Keys have the most charter fishing boats as waters around carry good variety of fish. Key Largo an island present in Upper keys has been called the “Diving Capital of the World”. Off the city of Key Largo, there are some of the best sites for diving in the Florida Keys. Divers and snorkelers can expect to see manta rays, spotted eagle rays, eels, turtles, reef sharks, tarpon, sting rays, large lobsters and tropical fish on diving. For nature lovers, Key Largo is a premier destination for kayakers, birders and other eco-tourists.
Another Upper key Islamorada has been named the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World”. It known as the Purple Island and was chosen to be one of the best places to live on in the world through people’s votes.
The Middle Keys
The Middle Florida Keys is made of many Keys starting with Long Key, the Conch Keys, Duck Key, Grassy Key, Boot Key, Crawl Key, Pigeon Key and Key Vaca. Long Key is a beautiful island known for parks, fishing spots, kayak, restaurants and beaches.
Key Vaca is an island present in Florida City, Marathon. Marathon is known for sport fishing and scuba diving. A rise in ocean bottom called hump also exists in Marathon city. Marathon Hump is known for fishing sports and catching game fish like Tuna, Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sharks, Sailfish, Blackfin, Dolphin and huge Amberjack.
The Lower Keys
Lower Keys can be considered left over large fossilized coral reefs exposed as sea level declined. They have beautiful white sandy beaches and abundant wildlife. It is considered an excellent vacation spot. One of the Lower Keys is Key West which is known for its colorful locals. Key West has the longest street in the world as it runs from coast to coast. Visitors can take a ride on Conch Tour Train and get a close view of the beautiful Island. The Lower Keys are mostly underdeveloped, lacking any business except Big Pine Key. Deer and other wildlife protection have been set by National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key. There is a unique island called ‘No Name Key’ on which life is very primitive and self-sufficient. A road connects Big Pine Key with No Name Key. Little away from Big Pine Key is a resort island called Little Palm where celebrities go for vacation. The resort is accessible only by boat.
Just like Upper and Middle Keys, Lower Keys also offer great snorkeling, scuba diving and sport fishing. It’s particularly known for its easy, relatively shallow dives with copious coral and fish.
The Outlying Islands
Sunset Key, Wisteria Island, the Marquesas Keys and the Dry Tortugas are part of the outlying islands. The Outer Keys have no bridge, and islands are accessible only by boat.
Importance of Florida Keys
The ecosystems of the Keys are home to several endangered species. If we managed to protect the Keys, this means we can help establish a better future for these animals and plants living there. The more people are educated about Florida Keys wildlife and ecology, the more danger free future we will be heading to.
Beach of Florida Keys
The famous beaches of Florida Keys are:
- Veteran’s Beach
- Bahia Honda Sandspur
- Bahia Honda Oceanside
- Bahia Honda Bayside
- Sombrero Beach
- Coco Plum Beach
- Curry Hammock
The climate of the Florida Keys is tropical, just like the southern part of Florida. However, because of the islands’ location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, they are prone to hurricanes. The islands have very low elevations and flooding from the storm’s surges which can easily affect large areas of the Keys. As a result threats of flooding, evacuation orders are always put into place when hurricanes threatens to take over the area.