It may not be as famous as Key West or Key Largo, but Islamorada in the Florida Keys is a must stop on any road trip. Located south of Key Largo, Islamorada is known as “The Village of Islands” consisting of four islands spanning 18 miles along the overseas highway. Long known as the sport fishing capital of the world, there are plenty of things to do in Islamorada than hooking a fish. With microbrews, urban dining, water sports and yes even Key Lime Pie, Islamorada is sure to have plenty of outdoor activities to please everyone.
Islamorada Florida Keys
Having transportation is a must for visiting the Florida Keys. If you aren’t driving yourself, check CarRentals.com for prices so you can do a proper Florida Keys road trip from Miami down the Overseas Highway all the way to Islamorada and Key West. Having a car offers a lot of freedom to get around Islamorada and explore all the hidden gems.
The Florida Keys measure everything by mile marker, so when you are looking for the address or location of each attraction, just keep an eye on the mile marker sign. It’s easy to figure out. So let’s get started!
1. Robbies Marina
Robbies marina was voted the number one place in all of the Florida Keys that everyone should visit and we agree! There’s local shops and markets, water sports, a bar and a restaurant and a waterfront deck. We had a delicious breakfast here and it was the first time we tried Key Lime Pie in the Florida Keys. Yum! It feels like old time keys where life was laid back and simpler and there isn’t a care in the world. Everyone seems so relaxed and happy here.
2. Parasailing Robbies Marina
It was our first time parasailing and it is amazing! I can’t believe we’ve never done it before our trip to Islamorada Kay. Parasailing with Sundance Watersports. The parasailing adventure was a fantastic tour where we got to see the coast and explore a bit of the waters before heading up into the sky for amazing views of Islamorada Key, the Highway bridges, the Alligator Reef Light and Indian Key. It’s safe, fun and so easy that anyone can do it! The guides were safe, fun and entertaining and they kept a good eye on us to make sure we stayed safe in the sky.
3. Feed the Tarpon at Robbies
While at Robbies you have to try your hand at feeding the tarpon that hang out at the dock. The story of how it all started is amazing. In 1976, an injured Tarpon was flounderin gin the waters. Upon further inspection, Robbie noticed that its jaw was torn open. They nursed it back to health naming it Scarface and eventually let it back in the water. Scarface returned again and again, bringing along friends and today schools of Tarpon hangout by the docks waiting to be fed. It’s a thrill indeed and no matter how ready you think you will by, when that tarpon leaps out of the water and snatches a fish from your hand, you can’t help but scream with surprise and delight.
- Hot Tip: keep an eye out for the pelicans on the dock, they’ll snatch that fish right out of your hand when you are not looking.
4. Water Sports and Activities
From Robbies Marina, you can book all the Florida Keys watersports you’ve ever dreamed of from renting jet skies, to stand up paddle boarding, sunset cruises to snorkeling, they’ve got it all. Why not rent a kayak to explore the area? It’s a 20 minute paddle to India Key State Park or if you don’t want to go far, you can paddle around the corner to the mangrove system and search for manatees. If you are into fishing, Islamorada Key is known as the sport fishing capital of the world.
- Robbies is located at Mile Marker 77.5
5. Florida Keys Brewing Co.
The Florida Keys Brewing Company is one of the best places on the island to enjoy some live music, a chilled out vibe and delicious microbrews. We took a brewery tour to learn about the fermentation and bottling process at this colorful and quirky business on a brewery tour before heading to their beer garden and tasting room where we enjoyed a flight of 10 different beers. I can honestly say, I enjoyed every one! (yes, I tasted them all).
Located in the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District this is a very cool place to hang out. You can book a room to stay overnight right on their property at FlaKeys Vacation Rental. There’s only one unit, so something tells me it fills up fast.
6. Chef Michaels
Chef Michals also located in the trendy Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, just down the street from the Florida Keys Brewing Co. is a great place for dinner. This upscale seafood restaurant that was one of our favourite meals in the entire Florida Keys. Help save the reefs by ordering the lion fish (an invasive species that is threatening the Keys reef system. They offer vegetarian options and we have to say, the Mahi Mahi and the sea scallops were to die for.
7. Morada Way Arts and Cultural District
Speaking of the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, make sure to spend a bit of time exploring. It has become a mecca for artists who have set up shop among the restaurants and bars on this “Downtown Mainstreet” in the heart of the Florida Keys. Keep an eye out for the 1935 Hurricane Memorial, known as the Hurricane Monument, it pays tribute to those who lost their lives. It’s a stark reminder of how powerful Mother Nature can be down here. A famous place to stay here is at Green Turtle Inn it has been a landmark here since 1947. Even if you are not staying there, pop in for a bite to eat.
8. Islamorada Beaches
The Florida Keys are all about having fun in the sun and Islamorada Key has some great beaches too. With warm water, hot days and plenty of sunshine in the Sunshine State, you must go to the beach when hanging out on Islamorada.
Beaches on Islamorada
- Annes Beach is the busiest beach on Islamorada. There is a boardwalk, restrooms, and it’s a popular spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing.
- This little beach is located on the channel. It’s a good place for paddleboarding
- Holiday Isle Beach – Located at the Postcard Inn and Beach Resort, this is the nicest beach on Islamorada that is close to bars and amenities. You don’t have to be sating at the resort to use the beach. But you should go to the Tiki Bar to try its original cocktail The Rumrunner invented in 1950 by rumrunners going through the keys.
9. Holiday Isle Resort – Raw Bar and Tiki Bar
Speaking of the famous Tiki Bar, The Postcard Inn Beach Resort really does have a spectacular setting in Islamorada. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort, make sure to dine at the Raw Bar, the setting was beautiful overlooking the water and feeling the warm evening breeze. This is a great spot to enjoy a cocktail and a slice of Key Lime Pie.
10. Florida Keys History and Discovery Center
If it’s a rainy afternoon or you simply want to learn a bit more about the fascinating Florida Keys History, make sure to visit the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center. The 7,500 square foot oceanfront museum houses exhibits about the Indigenous People of the Florida Keys all the way through to the days of Pirates and Spanish Fleets to the creation of the amazing Overseas Highway. The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m
11. Florida State Parks
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
Take a self guided walking tour along nature trails consisting of exposed fossilized coral reefs. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park has five trails where you can explore nature and actually know what you are seeing with the guide book provided by park rangers.
Indian Key Historic State Park
As we mentioned above, rent a kayak at Robbies Marina and head out to Indian Key State Park or join a tour. You can get out to see the remnants of an old wrecking colony, snorkel in its clear waters or explore its walking trails around this island state park.
Lignumviatae Key Botanical State Park
Another interesting stop in the Florida Keys is the Lignumviatae Key Botanical State Park. Housing the Lignum vitae Tree (the wood of life) this is the best place in North America to see the densest tree in the world. The island is filled with rare plants, birds and insects. If you can rent a boat, make your way out to explore it from Robbies Marina.
Things to Consider when visiting some attractions
We have mixed feelings about the Florida Keys Aquarium. We don’t normally go to aquariums or zoos because we don’t like seeing wildlife in captivity. But we do know that aquariums play a big part in conservation and raising awareness. They are a good way to introduce people to marine life and to teach them to respect oceans and species such as sharks. But swimming with manta rays or having tourists pet and feed sharks is not (in our opinion) a good way to go about it.
I love that they rescue and rehabilitate their marine life but they should focus more on giving them a sanctuary and let humans look at them from afar rather than forcing the animals to interact with people every day. We could tell that the staff and our guide seemed to love marine life and seemed to believe in what they were doing, but I just don’t think sharks should have to interact with humans day in day out. The 20,000 gallon tank sound huge on paper, but inside, the sharks are swimming around in circles.
Theater of the Sea
And speaking of this, Please reconsider swimming with Dolphins at Theater of the Sea. Theater of the Sea is one of Islamorada Key’s top attractions and it has been around since 1946 and it does have a beautiful setting where marine life could thrive in captivity. While it states that a lot of their species are rescues and can never go back in the wild, that doesn’t mean that they be made to put on shows and swim with humans. They could make this a beautiful sanctuary and I do hope they transition in the future. They have a sea lion program where they are trained to jump through hoops. I haven’t watched anything like this since the 1980s and I still won’t.
Most travel companies have shifted away from tours like swimming with dolphins in captivity. TripAdvisor stopped selling tickets to dolphin shows and captive dolphin swimming (although they still allow reviews) and Intrepid Travel among other travel companies stopped all tours that involve swimming with dolphins. Read Why you should never swim with dolphins on your vacation.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
If you have your heart set on interacting with sea turtles, dolphins and other marine life, consider taking an introduction to scuba diving or even taking a snuba or discovery dive. Snorkeling is an amazing way to have an encounter. And if you have kids, hop on a glass bottom boat.
Where to Stay on Islamorada
Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle – This is the most popular place to stay on Islamorada offering cottages and rooms with Marina and Atlantic Ocean views. There are water sports on site and you can book scuba diving in the Florida Keys from here. If you aren’t up for snorkeling or scuba diving, glass bottom boat tours are offered as well.
Hadley House Resort – We stayed at Holiday House Resort a boutique resort with cottages. I would recommend staying at the building overlooking the water. Cottages are set back from the sea and the hotel building seemed much better. Your $25 resort fee covers use of Stand up paddleboards and kayaks. There’s parking and a pool.
And these are the best things to do in Islamorada Key. It is much more laid back than Key West and it a fantastic chill out place to spend a few days enjoying some fun in the sun.
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