Islamorada (pronounced aisle-a-more-AH-dah) is at the centre of a string of islands. It is part of the greater Florida Keys. Self-dubbed as a “Village of Islands” it covers Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key. It is about an hour and a half by road from Miami and about two hours’ drive north of Key West.
Named by the first explorers, the Spanish, Islamorada, means “purple isles.” It was probably due to either the violet sea snails or the native purple bougainvillea flowers. It shares a tropical climate similar to the rest of the Florida Keys.
There are many things for vacationers to do on and in the waters around Islamorada. Most of them involve fishing. Known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World” it is easy to see why. The diversity of fish and their numbers has created the largest fleet of charter – offshore and shallow – fishing boats in all the Florida Keys.
The other really popular activity is scuba diving and snorkelling. Islamorada is a paradise for this sport with vast swathes of brilliantly coloured living coral reefs populated by a myriad variety of brilliantly coloured fish.
There are state parks where you can go camping, canoeing, trek through nature trails and enjoy picnics in serene and picturesque surroundings. You could also hire stand-up paddle boats or kayaks. Then of course there are the beaches where you can enjoy a number of activities including sunbathing and swimming.
Islamorada boasts a selection of eco-tours, water sports, tennis facilities, bicycle and hiking trails and a number of beautiful, if tiny beaches. Here is a selection of activities and sights in Islamorada.
Theater of the Sea: Here you can swim with bottlenose dolphins, stingrays and sea lions. Established in 1947, it is one of the oldest marine centres in the world. Exhibits include fish, sharks, turtles, alligators and a parrot show.
Florida Keys History of Diving Museum: It has one world’s largest collection of diving equipment. The museum traces the history of diving going back 3,000 years and has a gallery of artefacts and tools used by treasure hunters.
Robbie's Marina: Visitors may purchase buckets of bait to feed huge, dramatic and menacing looking tarpon that gather around the marina docks.
Holiday Isle Beach: One of the prettiest beaches on Islamorada, it is privately owned but non-guests can hang out here or at the bars.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park Review: Get a look at the dramatic geological history of the Florida Keys. You will see beautiful fossilised coral and sea ferns dating back more than 125,000 years.
Hang Gliding: The sheer beauty of Islamorada’s crystal clear blue waters and colours of the coral reefs will take your breath away. The experience of silently gliding above it will do the same.