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Kona Kai Resort, Key Largo, Florida, USA
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Discovering the Florida Keys   by Gregg McGuire

Key Largo Hotels

When people ask about the top sights to see in the south Florida area including Fort Lauderdale and Miami, I always advise them to try and make some time to go down to the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are the string of islands just south of the Florida mainland and runs 120 miles from end to end. Fort Lauderdale and Miami are fun but for a relaxing change of pace, the Florida Keys is the place to be. For snorkellers and scuba divers going to south Florida, I would consider Florida Keys a must. The waters around Key Largo are a protected marine park with a very healthy fish life and offer the best diving in the US. Key Largo is the first town as you enter the Keys after crossing the bridge from the mainland. It can be reached from Miami in an hour and from Fort Lauderdale in an hour and 45 minutes. Once the bridge from the mainland is crossed, the change in pace is noticed immediately. There is much less traffic and people just seem more relaxed in the Florida Keys compared to the mainland.

Key West, Florida, USA
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Key Largo is the main scuba diving town with many dive shops. There is even an underwater hotel with two guestrooms for adventurous types. This was a former marine research unit that was converted to the hotel. Islamorada and Marathon located more west are also top scuba dive locations. For those who are not into diving, there are numerous shops with colorful local arts and crafts. One collection of shops has a giant statue of a spiny lobster out in front. For more fun, there are two dolphin centers, one in Key Largo and another near Marathon where visitors can interact with captive dolphins. Dolphin programs should actually be booked well in advance since they are extremely popular.

There are sign markers along the main US number 1 highway that mark each mile along the 120 mile route. Most addresses in the Florida Keys along the main highway will actually refer to which mile marker they are located near. It's a very efficient way to navigate. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Key Largo to the far end at Key West but more than likely, visitors would want to stop off at numerous locations along the way for shopping, photo opportunities or just admiring the scenery. The scenery gets better as one heads out more west, especially near the bridges that connect the islands. A common sight to see are locals fishing off the bridges and numerous pelicans standing on the posts like permanent fixtures. One of the most spectacular sights is the seven mile bridge which is the world's longest segmented bridge.

School of Schoolmaster Snapper, Key Largo, Florida
School of Schoolmaster Snapper, Key Largo, Florida
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The Florida Keys are not really known for its beaches with the exception of Bahia Honda Park which is even further west in the lower keys. The snorkeling in this area, especially Looe Key, is among the top sites in North America. The city of Key West at the far end of the Florida Keys is the largest community in the islands and a stay here for a night or two is well worth it. The downtown area full of restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops is a funky, fun place to be. There are hotels along the water as well as numerous B&Bs inland. We stayed at the Quality Inn near the entrance of the city and had no problem getting downtown since there is a very convenient bus system that runs throughout Key West. We chose to leave our car at the hotel and use the buses because parking can be limited in the downtown area. A very neat way to tour the city is to rent scooters which are very common in the streets here. With the scooters, we criss-crossed the city and saw the wonderful colonial houses in the residential streets including Ernest Hemmingway's house.

The seafood is predictably very fresh in restaurants everywhere in the Florida Keys. Some local specialties not to be missed are conch, local spiny lobster and a few varieties of the local fish including snapper and grouper. Of course, one must try the real, authentic key lime pie that originated in the area. Each restaurant has a slightly different recipe but in general, the authentic key lime pie here is not as sweet as the commercial brands sometimes found in the rest of North America.

Key Largo Marine Sanctuary, Florida
Key Largo Marine Sanctuary, Florida
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Hotel accommodations suit every budget in the Florida Keys from simple motels to top notch resorts. The last town back in the US mainland is Florida City and it has some very affordable hotel accommodations with well known chains such as Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn and Best Western. This is another option for some travelers, especially those who are scuba diving in Key Largo as Florida City is only about 20 minutes away if hotels in Key Largo are fully booked or at high season rates.

The Florida Keys has a way of enticing visitors back during return visits to south Florida. Its slower pace helps balance things out against the crowded and crazier styles of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. I have been to the Keys three times and will definitely return there again.

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Hampton Inn Key Largo
The Hampton Inn® Key Largo may be located just a one hour drive from Miami, but when you're deep underneath the sparkling blue waters off the coast of Florida's northernmost key island, we bet you'll feel a million miles from anywhere. Sandwiched between the wild and beautiful Everglades National Park and America's only living coral reef, our hotel in Key Largo makes for a peaceful stop on your drive along the breathtaking Overseas Highway or as a headquarters for a SCUBA diving adventure. Take a guided boat tour of the winding waterways that meander through the southern section of the Everglades. Visit the undersea water world at John Pennekamp State Park and get an up-close look at a reconstructed Spanish shipwreck that rests nearly 100 feet underwater.
Key Largo Grande Resort & Beach Club, A Hilton Resort
Key Largo Grande Resort & Beach Club, a Hilton Resort in Key Largo, Fla., overlooks a native hardwood forest and beach, 50 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is two miles from the hotel. Guests are treated to Caribbean and Mediterranean blended cuisine at Café Key Largo, and South American appetizers and tropical beverages at Parrots Lounge. Room service is available during limited hours. More than 10,000 square feet of meeting space with Internet access is available. Besides access to one of the area's largest private beaches, the hotel offers a full range of water sports and sport fishing. Two heated outdoor pools, a fitness center, sauna and lighted tennis courts round out the activities offered. 
Marina Del Mar Resort and Marina Key Largo
Positioned near some of the world's most famous reefs, the Marina Del Mar Resort and Marina in Key Largo, Fla., is just three miles from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Five miles away is Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and seven miles away is the Molasses and French reef. The Marina Del Mar Resort and Marina offers complimentary breakfasts daily, and is pet friendly. Other desirable amenities include restaurants and a lounge, Tiki bar, pools and spa tubs. Marina Del Mar also offers convenient access to diving, snorkeling, back country, deep-sea fishing and glass-bottom boats rides right at their marina. 
Mariner's Resort Villas & Marina, A Keys Caribbean Resort
Mariner's Resort Villas & Marina, a Keys Caribbean Resort, sits oceanfront in Key Largo, Fla., adjacent to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Molasses Reef. This resort offers a variety of water sports, including parasailing, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and water skiing. The condos and townhomes surround a 45-slip deep-water marina. Mariner's Resort Villas & Marina is a gated community with oceanfront dining and an array of unique resort amenities. There is a business center and banquet accommodations capable of servicing up to 150 guests. A 66-slip dry storage boat facility is available at the resort. Mariner's coral Jacuzzi grotto, which is made up of an outdoor pool and coral spa tub, was designed to replicate an underwater diving or snorkeling experience.
Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort
Located on 17 lush waterfront acres, the Marriott Bay Beach Resort Key Largo offers family-friendly fun and an array of amenities in Key Largo, Florida. A large section of Everglades National Park, Boggy Key, is just over one mile from the resort, separated from the island by a small strait. Outfitters located on the Keys offer water activities, including cave dives and parasailing. Gulf-side promenades and shady cabanas line the private beach fronting the resort, and an open-air day spa offers massage and body/facial treatments amid the soft bay breezes. The oversized pool stays open late, and is bordered by a sundeck with a jetted tub and a fountain. 
Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo
From sunrise to sunset you can enjoy the many activities Ocean Pointe has to offer or just relax in your oceanfront suite and surround yourself with our tranquil environment of sixty acres of tropical elegance in the Fabulous Florida Keys! Your vacation begins the moment you drive through our gatehouse entrance into our beautifully landscaped tropical grounds and enter your spacious one or two bedroom suite. Your accommodations will include a whirlpool tub in the master bath, a fully equipped kitchen, and a private balcony. After enjoying a convenient breakfast in our cozy waterfront café, use our free lighted tennis facilities, swim in our huge heated pool, get some sun on our private beach, rent a kayak, or just take a walk along our private boardwalk and marina.
Ramada Limited - Resort And Marina Key Largo
Ramada Limited - Resort and Marina is located along a deep-water marina in Key Largo, Florida, adjacent to the SunCruz Casino Ship ,and less than 1 mile from Dolphin Plus. Guests can unwind at the outdoor pool or relax in lounge chairs on a sandy area overlooking the marina. The resort offers sunset cruises, deep-sea fishing, water sports rentals, parasailing, snorkeling, and Scuba-diving (fees apply). The hotel serves complimentary breakfast daily. Wireless Internet access is complimentary throughout the hotel. Hotel guests receive 2 complimentary admission tickets to the SunCruz casino ship offshore, and complimentary shuttle-boat service to the casino ship is available in the marina adjacent to the hotel. 
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