Ten “Must do’s” while Visiting Islamorada

While in no specific order, Islamorada Times has compiled a list of the Ten  “Must do” activities while Visiting Islamorada. Certainly there is much more to do in Islamorada than these 10, but we thought we would start somewhere. Depending on your travel partners and interest some may or may not be applicable. So here we go:

1.Fishing

We did mention that the activities were not in any specific order, but clearly we had to begin with Fishing. Islamorada in known as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World” and is home to some of the best fishing opportunities on the planet, with many world record fish caught right off our coast. The main attraction is the diverse fishing options available in the waters around Islamorada. Offshore, Reef, Gulf, Florida Bay, Backcountry, Everglades, Flats, and Bridges are all easily accessed destinations from the docks of Islamorada. The species available are endless and some favorites include Tarpon, Mahi, Sailfish, Permit, Bonefish, Snook, Wahoo, Hogfish, Shark, Grouper, to name a few… Islamorada is also home to the largest Fishing Fleet in the World and our Captains and Guides are the best in the business. Epic does not even do justice trying to describe the fishing in Islamorada.

2. Robbie’s Marina

One of the coolest places in all the Florida Keys is Robbie’s Marina. They offer a plethora of activities to include fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, eco tours, wave runners and more. Include a number of Florida Keys style shops and a great outdoor waterfront restaurant, and you can see why Robbie’s is one of Islamorada favorite attractions. Their most popular attraction is “Feeding the Tarpon”. If you’re thinking tossing some food into an aquarium type of feeding, well think again. It kind of goes like this: you are laying on the deck with a fish dangling from your hand, from the depths a 100 lb tarpon explodes out of the water and leaps several feet in the air to snatch your bait and sometimes engulfing your whole hand. It is the most exciting and terrifying experience all at once. Do not miss “Feeding the Tarpon” at Robbie’s.

3. The Islamorada Sandbar

One of the biggest parties on the water, the famous Islamorada Sandbar is located just about a mile offshore in the Atlantic Ocean around Mile Marker 84, just off the Postcard Inn and the Whale Harbor Marina. The waters are shallow in this area allowing boats to gather and anchor together to create a huge celebration on the water. Most popular in the summer months and on Holiday weekends, sandbar attendees bring lounge chairs, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and umbrellas and submerse them into the ocean’s sandy bottom. One of Islamorada’s natural treasures is only accessible by boat, kayak, paddleboard or wave runner and is pet friendly. Islamorada has several companies that will take you to the offshore beach where all get to enjoy the scenic 360 degree water view.

4. Diving/Snorkeling at Alligator Reef Lighthouse

Alligator Reef Lighthouse is considered one of the best diving and snorkeling locations in all the Florida Keys. The location is easily recognizable by the 136 foot Lighthouse that also pinpoints the wreckage of the USS Alligator, which sunk there back in 1825. The wreck and lighthouse are home to coral reefs, with  water depths between 8 and 40 feet, and over 500 different species of marine life. The Sanctuary area surrounding the lighthouse is cleary marker by mooring buoys and creates a preserved area for these water activities. Divers and Snorkelers will marvel at the clear blue turquoise waters. Get out to the Alligator Reef Lighthouse and see why this popular destination is the first choice for Diving and Snorkeling. 

5. The Cheeca Lodge & Spa

Cheeca Lodge has been the “Centerpiece” of Islamorada for over seven decades. This legendary Resort offers what they call “barefoot elegance” and is one of the premier Resorts in the Florida Keys. The Resort is situated on 27 lush tropical acres located right on the Atlantic Ocean. The amenities offered are endless and their service is what sets them apart from other Resorts in the Keys. Cheeca’s history runs deep and you will see that dominantly presented throughout their Resort. Presidents, Sports Stars, and Movie Stars all have stayed at Cheeca and their pictures line the walls of their entranceway.

The resort remains a favorite destination for avid fishermen, families, wedding parties, honeymooners, and international travelers. What is best about Cheeca is their ability to evolve with the times while still preserving their famed history and the old fisherman’s village charm that visitors to Islamorada wouldn’t trade for the world. 

6.Theater of the Sea

Think Sea World Florida Keys style. The Theater of the Sea is the second oldest marine animal center in the world. Their missions is to provide a wonderful home for the animals while sharing them with visitors in a way that inspires awareness and sensitivity towards the animals and the environment. What make this place so special is the intimacy with the animals and marine life. Every show and tour is up close and personal. Dolphins and Sea Lion shows run throughout the day and a tour on their Bottomless Boat is unforgettable. Theater of the Sea is a fun filled day for all ages.

7. Brewery Tours

Islamorada is home to the Islamorada Beer Company and the Florida Keys Brewing Company. With two breweries located so close in proximity to each other it makes for a fun afternoon of sampling some of the best craft brews in the Florida Keys. 

The Islamorada Beer Company is famous for its “Sandbar Sunday” brew, notably named for Islamorada’s famous Sandbar. The popularity of this great tasting brew has expanded throughout the State of Florida. The brewery,  located right on the Overseas Highway, is quaint and offers some unique varieties for tasting. Their colorful line of clothing is also very appealing.

The Florida Keys Brewing Company is located in the Morada Way Arts district of Islamorada. Locals Craig and Cheryl McBay own and operate this well know gem. Their tasting room is as colorful and interesting as the rotating list of beers they offer. Some of the local favorites are the “Iguana Bait” and “Smuggler’s Moon”. The Florida Keys Brewing Company is a fun place to hang out in the afternoon or during the Morada Way Art Walk which takes place every third Thursday of the month.

8. Kayak, Paddleboard and Eco Tours

We have always said it should be a requirement to get out on the water when visiting Islamorada. The ocean and the salt water surrounding this tiny island is like the “Bloodline” of the area. Kayaking, paddle boarding and eco tours are great ways to get on the water and explore all the beauty and marine life Islamorada has to offer. We have some very experienced local companies that can let you explore the crystal clear turquoise waters first hand and guide you to all the scenic locations. Manatees, Dolphins, Crocodiles, and many species of Birds are all part of this outdoor adventure. See all the options available on the Islamorada Times website.

9. Founder’s Park

One of Islamorada’s pure treasures is a huge 40 acre multi recreational facility. It is the center for all of Islamorada’s community events and concerts. This wonderful park has something for everyone and the value this place gives to locals and tourist alike is hard to measure.

Founder’s has one of the best swimming beaches in Islamorada with barbecues, picnic areas, spotless restrooms, and showers, all available for guest use. The park has an Olympic sized swimming pool and diving center with a 3 meter springboard and a 10 meter dive platform, and is surrounding by beautifully manicured lawns. There is an outdoor open air amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events. Founder’s Park is also home to an 88 slip marina with a boat launch, gas, and easy deep channel access to the Back Bay and Atlantic Ocean.

Founder’s is a great place to exercise and get your heart pumping. Basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, jogging, beach yoga, and walking trails round out all the activities available at Founder’s Park. They even provide equipment for most activities. Located Bayside at mile marker 87, Founder’s is a must visit destination.

10. Waterfront Dining

Islamorada has become a favorite destination for Foodies. The cuisine is some of the best in the country and offered at beautiful scenic waterfront locations. In Islamorada you can literally wake up and have breakfast Oceanside and watch the sunrise in the morning, and on the same day you can dine bayside and enjoy a scenic sunset. Not many places can make that claim. The delicious seafood is truly world class, coming from the warm tropical waters surrounding Islamorada and delivered fresh daily to all the restaurants, sometimes within minutes of being caught. Fresh varieties of fish, spiny lobster, and stone crab claws are all locally harvested.

Accompany the waterfront ambience with some of the freshest cuisine in the country makes for a match that will surely exceed expectations. Robbie’s, Cheeca Lodge, Whale Harbor Seafood Buffet, Wahoo’s, Hog Heaven, Marker 88, Lorelei are just a sampling of restaurants that offer an amazing waterfront dining experience. See our recent feature highlighting the “15 Best Tasting Fish in the Florida Keys” to see all the delicious fish options available at our local restaurants. Most will cook you catch as well.  

That rounds out our list of Ten “Must do’s” while Visiting Islamorada. This is just a small sampling of all the activities available in Islamorada. Please visit us at www.islamoradatimes.com to get all the information you need to get the most out of your time on the island. Feel free to email us at info@islamoratimes.com for recommendations or referrals to local businesses in the area.