Florida Keys Islamorada
A place whose name recalls its Spanish roots is today a premier-fishing destination within the United States and around the World. Islamorada, geologically speaking, shares a background dating back thousands of years, the same as the other Florida Keys, even though it has its own unique identity.
Marine life, coral reef, and two seas find a common home at this island. However, Islamorada is more properly the name of a series of 20-mile islands over Tavernier Creek, Upper, and Lower Matecumbe.
Islamorada has numerous traditional myths and tales. Local fishermen talk about monstrous tarpon and marlin captured just off the coast, but there are also legends associated to a mysterious lady haunting places and the ghost of a man who was cut in two by the railroad.
Visiting this angler’s paradise is a rewarding experience that produces not only catches, but also interesting encounters with celebrities of the present and past, including the visit to the island of former president George H. W. Bush.
Alligator Reef and Crocker Reef are only two of the most sought-after snorkeling and diving destinations in the Florida Keys, both reefs located within Islamorada limits. Around this area, divers and snorkelers will find a wide variety of shrimp and crab, natural food of the most sought-after big fish species.
Islamorada is indeed the sportfishing capital of the world, but also an underwater paradise where divers will find all kinds of treasures, from marine flora and fauna, to shipwrecks such as “The Cannabis Cruiser” and “The Eagle”, today a picturesque habitat for whole families of grouper and gargantuan amberjack.
Both snorkeling and diving are available at most marinas and watersport shops, ranging in price from $40 to $50 per half-day snorkeling around wrecks and reefs. Canoeing, kayaking, boating, and sailing are also provided at these places, some of them with their own dockage and boat ramp facilities.
Boat rentals at Islamorada provide you with fuel, fresh water, ice, local tours and charters, besides orientation on the surrounding waters and fishing advice. Some rental services cover all the Florida Keys, while others are limited to Islamorada and the Upper Keys.
In addition, you can rent snorkeling, diving or fishing gear at most locations around the island. All the activities in Islamorada are closely related to fishing and watersport activities, so basically novice anglers and professional fishermen and women will enjoy their stay here unquestionably.
If you are traveling with the family and the water is not at all your kind of entertainment, paying a visit to the Theater of the Sea, located at Mile Marker 84.5, Oceanside could be your favorite spot. Right here children and adults alike will enjoy dolphin encounters and sea lions, sharing a common stage.
Theater of the Sea is not as appealing as other water parks in the Florida Keys and even when it has diverse exhibits with turtles, seahorse, and nurse shark, the site is small and classified by experts as excessively commercial.
Islamorada has three state parks located in the small southern islands of Long Key, Lignumvitae Key, and Indian Key. Apart from this attraction, visitors who are not attracted by fishing could find something to do visiting the Hurricane Monument at Mile Marker 82, Oceanside.
With the most purist art-deco style, this grave-like monument is a memorial to 425 victims killed during Labor Day of 1935, a day when a train was trying to evacuate Islamorada, being hit by a tidal wave created by a hurricane.
Originally, part of the railroad system running from Miami to Key West, this train is still running with all its victims aboard. In the book “Mysterious Florida” Bill Hanson talks about this ghostly apparition and many others across the Florida Keys, so either a fish or a ghost, there is always something to catch in Islamorada.
“Fishing” is also a popular activity among young people, who visit different beaches each summer trying to find new friends and with a little luck, the love of their life. Nevertheless, back to real fishing, visit the fisherman village at Channel 2 Bridge to approach some of the finest Islamorada’s fish species.
Whether you are an enthusiast of fishing or fishing for family amusement, do not forget to visit the Historic Shipwreck Museum, fishing the treasure of the island’s past, immortalized though sunken vessels and rescued maritime artifacts, which are part of the museum collection.
Islamorada is also the second biggest stop driving north to south throughout the Florida Keys.