Florida Keys info
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
JohnMC 05-Jun-21
JL 05-Jun-21
Swampbuck 06-Jun-21
Dollar 06-Jun-21
huntabsarokee 06-Jun-21
400 Elk @Home 06-Jun-21
BR 06-Jun-21
Thisismyhandle 06-Jun-21
Dale06 06-Jun-21
Swampbuck 06-Jun-21
lewis 06-Jun-21
JohnMC 06-Jun-21
blue spot 06-Jun-21
lamb 06-Jun-21
sitO 06-Jun-21
Dollar 06-Jun-21
BackwoodsVT 06-Jun-21
BigSkyHntr 06-Jun-21
Zbone 06-Jun-21
RK 06-Jun-21
sitO 06-Jun-21
AccMan 06-Jun-21
AccMan 06-Jun-21
Timbrhuntr 07-Jun-21
Dollar 07-Jun-21
BigSkyHntr 07-Jun-21
keepemsharp 07-Jun-21
W8N4RUT 07-Jun-21
BOBSTER 07-Jun-21
BOBSTER 07-Jun-21
BOBSTER 07-Jun-21
huntabsarokee 07-Jun-21
bigswivle 07-Jun-21
WYOelker 07-Jun-21
Brewski 07-Jun-21
JohnMC 08-Jun-21
bartl17 08-Jun-21
lewis 08-Jun-21
JohnMC 08-Jun-21
RK 08-Jun-21
tobywon 11-Jun-21
lewis 11-Jun-21
BigSkyHntr 11-Jun-21
Swampbuck 11-Jun-21
spike buck 12-Jun-21
JohnMC 14-Jun-21
DonVathome 15-Jun-21
lewis 15-Jun-21
Live2Hunt 15-Jun-21
lewis 15-Jun-21
From: JohnMC
05-Jun-21
Hope some of you that have visited the Keys can give me some helpful info. Wife and I’s 20th anniversary is this October. We are going to go to the keys for about a week. Flying in on a Sunday leave the following Sat-Sun flying into Miami.

I know I want to spend a day in the everglades national Park. Probably first full day there. Any tips for that? We are fairly boring so not wanting to do anything crazy. I would like to do a little DIY bonefishing with the fly road. Not so much all day. But maybe get up early and fish for 2-3 hours a couple days it is a anniversary trip after all. Hang out near the ocean, take some photos, eat a decent meal and a few drinks.

So questions - What area to stay? Same place or split it up in couple different places. Any recommendations? Been looking at VRBOs. Does not have to be on a shoestring budget but not extravagant either.

Restaurant recommendations? Things to do? Any DIY bonefishing tips for the area? I have done some DIY in Nassau with some success.

Thanks for the help, biggest thing looking for currently is figuring out lodging.

From: JL
05-Jun-21
Are you flying into Miami? If so....that will save you some backtracking vs flying into Key West and then going back north to the Everglades.

Food-wise.....a cool surprise to do with the wife.....get a whole key lime pie and go watch the sunset after dinner. I always liked the conch fritters too. Also...maybe a grouper sandwich.

From: Swampbuck
06-Jun-21
The key you’re heading to would be big for info, they all very month to month

From: Dollar
06-Jun-21
Islamorada would be a great place to base out of.It's 2 hours to Key West and couple hours to Everglades Nat'l Park.Long Key has some good areas to wade from shore but best will be by boat if that's possible.Plan everything now as the Keys and Florida are busy aren't slowing down. Long Key is just below Islamorada also kayak rentals are all over the place that could give you more options.Anything that looks real shallow and is public access could hold a fish. Snakecreek has kayak rentals I believe and there are several flats within a 1/4 mile that have fish. Good Luck

06-Jun-21
We did this trip quite a few years ago. Also flew into Miami. We stayed 2 night in Key Largo, moved down the Keys and stayed another 2 night, and ended up last 2 night near Key West. On way out we drove back to Key Largo and spent last night so we had a short ride back to Miami.

My wife’s favorite thing may have been a visit to the turtle animal hospital. That was around Marathon if I remember correctly.

06-Jun-21
I have been to the keys a lot. I lived in Tampa and went to the keys regularly. To me, each place has its own personality. I prefer Key largo and love the bay side resorts. Great sunsets, great fishing and easy to get to good snorkeling/dive spots.

We went to the Everglades as a family. We always try to go to National Parks as we travel around the country. The Everglades was not our favorite. If you go, try and find an alligator tour. That would make it more fun. It is a huge swamp area with very tall grass and small hammocks of trees. I am glad we went but we saw more gators in our backyard in Tampa than in the park.

All the bayside resorts I have stayed in had really good fishing from their private piers. Small snapper, coda, shark and rays. We also always see manatee. The food is great...if you make it to Key Largo you should try a restaurant called Hobos cafe. My wife would seriously go to the Keys just to get their Key lime Style Mahi.

Enjoy and have a great trip.

From: BR
06-Jun-21
Been a few years since the wife and I done the same thing you are speaking of. We loved Marathon key. Very layed back and every restaurant we ate at was good, all seemed to have live music too. There were some reasonable fishing charters there also and we caught a lot of fish. Do not go into the Everglades without plenty of bug spray, the skeeters down there do not mess around! Hope you enjoy your trip.

06-Jun-21
I agree that conch is a must try if you’ve never had it. It’s pretty tasty and also a major part of Caribbean culture. You can collect they’re shells for recreation as long as they’re not alive.

From: Dale06
06-Jun-21
Lots of restaurants in Key West, some high end and some very low end. Blue Heaven is an interesting low end, burger type place. Recommend Hemingway House tour there and the Mel Fisher museum. Lots of people watching opportunities as well. Have been there several times and likely will go again.

From: Swampbuck
06-Jun-21
Flamingo is a great place, even better by boat. There are boat rentals on every key and usually reasonable for a day or two. Bob you and I both know Islamorada is the worst place to go ;) that’s why I’ll be there for a month chasing tarpons in three tournaments

From: lewis
06-Jun-21
I grew up in Homestead fished the Glades for 40 plus years and used to keep a boat in Key West.Islmorada would be the best place in the Keys to stay if you want to experience the Glades and the Keys.If you are looking for a guide you should start looking soon as it is tarpon season and some are booked solid hope you get a chance to fish or just look around the Flamingo area in the park. I have a lot of great memories all around those places.Good luck Lewis

From: JohnMC
06-Jun-21
Thanks guys for info. Any specific lodging suggestions?

From: blue spot
06-Jun-21

blue spot's Link
you might try looking through the florida salt water sportsman forum. Lots of good information including this thread on wading for bonefish https://forums.floridasportsman.com/discussion/40247/wade-fishing-the-florida-keys I will ditto 400 Elk on all the keys having their own personality. The boardwalk at the everglades might be boring for a local but interesting if your not from around there. In the late 70's and early 80's my family would camp in the keys for a week. Long key state park has a nice long shallow beach that is great for wading . We caught a pile of blue crabs and enjoyed them. The park rangers said there were none and no bag limits. so that made things easy! The keys are a place you would never have to twist my arm to go back.

From: lamb
06-Jun-21
go to big pine key and see the key deer. they're very cool

From: sitO
06-Jun-21
I've got nothing on lodging, but I'd suggest a 1/2 day snorkeling trip to Cottrell Key. Santiago's Brunch is a great, and Pepe's is a small reasonably priced spot for Bkfst etc. I was going to suggest a day or two in Cuba, it's worth it just to see the cars, but not worth the travel restrictions at this time.

From: Dollar
06-Jun-21
Just plan early as everything and everyone is booked or booking as we speak.Lots of opportunity just keep your eyes peeled.Swampbuck has the right idea but there are plenty of small tarpon around in Oct. and plenty of 100lb+/- fish also.October is early but if your really looking to catch live shrimp will get you in trouble around the bridges at night on the surface.

From: BackwoodsVT
06-Jun-21

BackwoodsVT's Link
Plan to stop at Robbie's Marina so you can feed the wild tarpoon. Give yourself plenty of time. It's adictive. My wife and I stopped there back in 2015. If she hadn't been with me I'd still be there feeding those big beautiful monsters. Here's a link: https://www.robbies.com/tarpon.htm

From: BigSkyHntr
06-Jun-21
I was in Key Largo for my honeymoon last December. Awesome place! We did drive out to Key West and were glad we weren’t staying there. It is a cool place and probably worth the drive but it seemed to be a huge tourist trap and where most people were going to.

I would second stopping at Robbies to feed the tarpon! Also Theater of The Sea on Islamorada was pretty cool. Kind of like a miniature Sea world.

Fishingbooker.com is a great place to book an offshore fishing trip if you’re into that! We went for 2 days and it was awesome!

From: Zbone
06-Jun-21
That Tarpon feeding sounds cool... Thanks for sharing...

From: RK
06-Jun-21
JohnMC

It’s painfully obvious that Bowsiters sleep in their vehicles while on vacation or even on their honeymoon LOL!

From: sitO
06-Jun-21

sitO's Link
How bout a boat?

From: AccMan
06-Jun-21
Spend one night in Key West. Go to Sunset Celebration out on the cruise ship wharf. Lots of things to see. Look for The Cat Man, a very goofy individual that puts on a show with trained house cats.

Then go up to the ocean end of Duvall St. On the left is an authenic Cuban restaurant that is killer, great pork and fried plaintains and rice.

After eating go back down Duvall St and grab a drink on an outside patio facing Duvall St and watch the people parade, you will be amazed at what you may see.

Go on a snorkei trip, the reef and fish is beautiful. There is also an aquarium in Key West, right at the end of Duvall St, by the cruise ship wharf that is very good. If you have time check out the Hemmingway house at Key West.

From: AccMan
06-Jun-21
Deleted

From: Timbrhuntr
07-Jun-21

Timbrhuntr's embedded Photo
Timbrhuntr's embedded Photo
When I was there I believe it was sunshine key rv and resort had trailers you could rent all set up. I had a kayak and fished around the bridges with shrimp as bait. Its kinda cool when a 10 foot shark swims under your kayak or a huge ray !

Key Deer

From: Dollar
07-Jun-21
Lodging in the Keys has changed dramatically in the last few years.The last hurricane took out a lot of the (small, mom/pop) lodging.Corporate America took care of the rest it's hard to find a inexpensive room . Again plan now so you can hopefully find some reasonable lodging.Last Holiday weekend rooms were over $1000 per night for typical hotel. Robbie's has kayak rentals I believe and there are flats both north and south.

From: BigSkyHntr
07-Jun-21
Lol RK, we stayed at Ocean Pointe resort at Key Largo. Nice but pretty modest resort, I’m not sure what the cost per night is as I got a package deal with a travel agent

From: keepemsharp
07-Jun-21
The one complaint staying at Key West. Those goofy free run chickens crowing in the parking lot at 4 a.m.

From: W8N4RUT
07-Jun-21
PM sent.

From: BOBSTER
07-Jun-21

BOBSTER's embedded Photo
Iguanas
BOBSTER's embedded Photo
Iguanas
We just got back from the Keys. While in Miami, do a bowfishing or blowgun iguana hunt. Takes only 4 hours out of a morning, and lots of fun. We also did a night bowfishing trip, and shot a lot of different kind of exotic or invasive fish, however you want to call it. I cannot help you on places to stay because we pulled the travel trailer, and hit RV parks. Stayed a couple night in Key Largo, ate at the Fish House, and still dreaming about the coconut key lime pie. That was amazing. We went out a couple hours on a Tiki bar boat that takes you around the bay and then gives you some time to take a swim. That was out of Cruisin Tiki's out of Key Largo. They are located behind Snooks restaurant. Then we drove down to Key West hitting things along the way. Feeding the tarpon at Robbie's was a lot of fun, and you get to see some really big ones. While feeding them watch out for the smaller one that will do a blind attack from under the dock and grab your hand. Robbie's also has a restaurant and shopping, so it a one stop for all. And yes, when you get down to Key West, chickens will be hanging out like dogs and cats down there. We didn't do any other fishing and the water is beautiful down there. One night in Key Largo, the wife and daughter were catching and releasing mangrove snapper off our little tiki dock.

From: BOBSTER
07-Jun-21

BOBSTER's embedded Photo
Feeding the Tarpon
BOBSTER's embedded Photo
Feeding the Tarpon

From: BOBSTER
07-Jun-21

BOBSTER's embedded Photo
Key West Chickens
BOBSTER's embedded Photo
Key West Chickens

07-Jun-21
We did this trip quite a few years ago. Also flew into Miami. We stayed 2 night in Key Largo, moved down the Keys and stayed another 2 night, and ended up last 2 night near Key West. On way out we drove back to Key Largo and spent last night so we had a short ride back to Miami.

My wife’s favorite thing may have been a visit to the turtle animal hospital. That was around Marathon if I remember correctly.

From: bigswivle
07-Jun-21
Looe Key reef off of big pine/summerlin is a very cool swim. Square Grouper on Cudjoe is my favorite restaurant in Florida.

From: WYOelker
07-Jun-21
When we went we hated Key West. It was definitely the tourist trap. The chickens, the tourist, the huge cruise ships show up and dump a ton of people into the area and it is crowded etc. We only visited Key West one day, they have a cool butterfly place, and the southern most point was nice, but everything else was just meh...

We did some fishing with a charter/guide. Caught sharks, Snapper and a bunch of different fish. We really enjoyed the fish as you can take you catch to a local restaurant and have it prepared. Super good and very fresh. The turtle rescue is pretty cool as mentioned.

And seeing the deer is really cool. But we found staying up around Key Largo/Islamorada was more fun. In hind sight we all wished we just spent more time relaxing and hanging at our resort than running all over to Key west etc. Out next trip will be one maybe 2 keys and more time hanging out and not pushing to see and do everything.

From: Brewski
07-Jun-21
Over 200 businesses have closed in Key West so it's a whole new world down there now. Islamorada probably is your best bet for bone fishing.

From: JohnMC
08-Jun-21
Another question about fishing. If you are fishing from shore in the keys. What exactly do I need for a fishing license. There appears to be fresh water licenses, saltwater licenses, and shoreline online saltwater licenses. If I want to fish in the keys probably not from a boat what exactly do I need?

From: bartl17
08-Jun-21
Definitely go to Robbie's [mile marker 77.5] and feed the Tarpon. Islamorada, in general, is a good place to stay. but anywhere in the central keys is good. Go to Big Pine Key and drive the neighborhoods and see the Key deer. Drive the Seven Mile Bridge, great view. But like others stated, start making serious plans now!!! As for fishing, if you can afford it hire a guide.

From: lewis
08-Jun-21
You will need a non resident saltwater fishing license check with FWC online if someone is with you under the age of 16 I don’t think they have to have a license.Good luck Lewis

From: JohnMC
08-Jun-21
Thanks Lewis. Then if I were to do any freshwater fishing I would need that as well? There is not a combo is that correct?

From: RK
08-Jun-21
You need BOTH

There is no Combo

From: tobywon
11-Jun-21
Congrats on the anniversary John. Sorry, I'm no help. Anyone have any advice on the best small lures or artificial baits to fish for small stuff from shore down there?

From: lewis
11-Jun-21
Jigs work well and you can tip them with shrimp.If the cudas are around you can use tube lures and have a ball.John if you are fishing in Keys all the way to the glades you will not need a fresh water license however if you desire the Aerojet canal in Key Largo has good bass fishing both largemouth and peacocks.Good Luck Lewis

From: BigSkyHntr
11-Jun-21
Also remember to eat lots of key lime pie!! ;)~

From: Swampbuck
11-Jun-21
And drink key lime colodas

From: spike buck
12-Jun-21
We go to the Keys every other year.... would be nice to make it there this Fall. Open the Border. LOL

From: JohnMC
14-Jun-21
We ended up booking VRBO in Marathon. They are proud of their places down there. Ended up being north of 400 a night after fees. So we are going to start the couple of nights in Miami or homestead. Spend first full day in the Everglades but not sure how we will do that yet. Then rest of time in the keys. What we will do there still to be determined.

From: DonVathome
15-Jun-21
I head to the keys every March. You are very close to the gulf stream so you can have a great 8 hour ocean fishing trip. Most places will cook your catch. Fresh mahi mahi is amazing. Malory Square sunset. Snorkeling there is amazing. Glass bottom boat tour. Duval street.

From: lewis
15-Jun-21
If around Homestead take the drive down to Flamingo I fished that area for a lot of years.Lots of places to check out the area with walkways and such.There are some really good skiff guides who could take you into the backcountry and check it out damn that brings back memories.Good luck on your journey Lewis

From: Live2Hunt
15-Jun-21
Ummm, Feeding the tarpon? I would want to be catching the tarpon!!!!

From: lewis
15-Jun-21
I fished that poon from Key West to Hommassas on fly great fish good luck hope you have a great trip Lewis

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