Above: Barracuda near Islamorada, Florida Keys

Three-Hour Tours: Boating in the Keys

One of the great pleasures of visiting the Florida Keys is getting out on the water, a luminous assemblage of blues that practically demands to be enjoyed. The manifold possibilities include snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, sunset cruises…. It’s even possible to charter little octagonal Tiki boats, which are essentially just floating bars. They look quite fun, if barely seaworthy.

During our recent trip to the Keys, I booked three excursions for us, in order to take full advantage of the beautiful environment. Each was quite different from the other, but I recommend all of them.

KeyZ Charters: Ecotour

A mangrove channel on our ecotour with KeyZ Charters - Photo by Andrew Harper editor

While staying in Islamorada, we splurged on a private three-hour KeyZ charter that included snorkeling. We met our captain, Kelly, at Robbie’s Marina on Lower Matecumbe Key. She helmed a very comfortable motorboat with ample seating — it could have easily held 10 passengers — and had a cooler filled with bottled water (guests should bring their own towels and snacks). We motored past Lignumvitae Key, a state park that boast’s the Keys’ highest point, 19 feet above sea level. As we hadn’t brought our climbing gear, we continued on to Shell Key, an uninhabited bird sanctuary surrounded by impenetrable mangrove. As we quietly skirted the island, we spotted magnificent frigate birds, double-crested cormorants, osprey, egrets (both great and snowy) and great white herons, in addition to common brown pelicans.

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Above: Barracuda near Islamorada, Florida Keys

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Marathon’s Marvelous Turtle Hospital Key West Hotels: A Hit and Two Misses Key West Walking Tours Contrasting Resorts in the Florida Keys Favorite Florida Keys Restaurants