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Old Today, 02:42 PM   #401
DivingTheWorld
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We just got back from a vacation in the Florida Keys and I wanted to contribute our experiences. This thread was absolutely outstanding in providing us with ideas of things to do and where to go. As promised Ron, here's my write up:

On the drive down, we stopped at Robbie's on Islamarada to feed the Tarpon. It was a bit commercial feeling and a tourist trap, but the kids loved it.



We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard on Marathon Key which was a great little hotel. Not necessarily cheap, but I wouldn't call it expensive either. It's a newer hotel with plenty of parking, right on the water next to the Turtle Hospital. In the back is an infinity pool overlooking the ocean with lots of lounge chairs, a nice bar and excellent hotel food. The staff is outstanding and I would consider it a family friendly hotel.

Our first day snorkeling was at Bahia Honda, just south. It was windy that day, so the east side (ideal snorkeling per this thread) was too choppy for my first time snorkelers. We hit Calusa beach on the west side which is very sheltered. There wasn't a lot to see in the water, but we did find a bunch of fish at the north end along the jetty. It had rained A LOT just prior to our visit so the water was a little murky, but the kids had a great time!





We also checked out The Rain Barrel on Islamarada which had some really cool art. We picked up a few things. Man, the lobsters grow BIG down in the keys!



The next day we went snorkeling at the Horseshoe on Spanish Harbor Key. That is really a nice snorkeling area. There were only a couple other people there, super calm water and a lot more to see. There were even some mangroves on the shore where my Dad could lounge in the shade. We found the most interesting areas to be around the mouth which is shallow but lots of small stuff and the South side towards land where most of the fish were found. We saw upside down jellies, angels, tang, parrotfish, damsels, etc. I'd include more pictures but almost none of the underwater ones turned out because the vis was so bad.



My 5 year old decided the best way to snorkel was with one arm around my neck.



Then when she got tired, she just rode on my back.



My 7 year old was much more adventurous though, even holding some of the crabs and urchins I picked up for him.






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Old Today, 02:49 PM   #402
DivingTheWorld
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Our third full day in the Keys, we headed down to Key West and hit all the sites, the Conch Train, Hemingway's House, Southernmost Point, Key West Aquarium, etc. It was worth a visit, but I don't think I'd want to be down there for more than a day. Marathon is great and relaxing, Key West not so much.



We did find a cool reef there though.



Our favorite restaurant in the Keys was Lazy Days on Islamarada. It's right on the water and out back they have a pier where you can feed Nurse Sharks and Tarpon. We even saw a Black Tip cruising around. It's much nicer and low key than Robbie's and cheaper. A bag of "bait" is only $2 (gloves included!) and no charge to just look. Lazy Days restaurant is excellent and everything we tried was good.





So that's my write up! Thanks again to Ron for such an awesome thread!


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