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Key Largo, Florida: Your Gateway for Exploring The Keys

The Florida Keys: a tropical island paradise known for incredible snorkeling, fresh seafood dining, and laid back luxury. While a few areas throughout the Florida Keys are still making minor repairs and improvements post-Hurricane Irma, rest assured Key Largo is open for business and eager to welcome guests.

I started my Florida Keys vacation in Key Largo—the largest of the islands and known as the gateway community for exploring The Keys. Here you’ll find an abundance of local seafood and craft beverages, paired with relaxing accommodations to put you in an island state of mind.

My island getaway started at Kona Kai Resort & Gallery, a boutique property located on Florida Bay Beach and within a few minute drive to area attractions. The suites and cottages at Kona Kai are fully furnished and my Papaya Suite provided a full kitchen, separate bedroom, and cozy seating area for entertaining. A freshwater year-round pool and access to the bay were just steps away from my private cottage. Complimentary paddleboards and kayaks are available on site, as are tennis courts and free parking.

I loved the location of Kona Kai Resort & Gallery. It was a perfect spot for solitude along the water, but only a few minutes away from a great assortment of dining and activity options.

For local flavors down the road, family-operated Keys’ Meads offers tours and tastings. Their traditional mead is made from honey, water, and yeast. For quick bites on the go, try the Tacos Jalisco food truck in Key Largo. Can’t decide between a burrito or quesadilla? Go for the campechanas—with a flour tortilla, shredded mozzarella cheese, asada, al pastor, beans, onions and cilantro. When big hunger strikes, head to The Fish House for dinner at this popular fresh seafood restaurant. I loved the casual island atmosphere and friendly service. Their catch of the day is a must-try, but you’ll also find a great variety of pastas and land-lover specialties.  For fish, you can’t miss the generous display of fresh catches: yellowtail snapper and grouper, alongside Florida lobster and stone crab.

When planning your to-dos in the area, visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for an incredible outdoor adventure. Join a snorkel or scuba tour, or relax aboard a glass bottom boat as you explore this marine playground. For an educational adventure involving the kids, explore Theater of The Sea marine mammal park in Islamorada. Swim with the dolphins or talk back to parrots at this year-round attraction.

For more hands-on fun, visit Robbie’s Marina to feed the local tarpon. You’ll have to share your fish bucket with the pelicans! Or explore The History of Diving Museum for a unique look at this underwater sport. The museum hosts one of the world’s largest collections of diving helmets and artifacts.

When it’s time for more R&R, head back to Kona Kai Resort & Gallery to catch an amazing sunset view from the comfort of beachfront hammocks and loungers. Relax and unwind in this tranquil island paradise and rest up for another day of adventure in the Florida Keys.

For more travel planning ideas, visit the Florida Keys Visitor Website or VisitFlorida.com.

A portion of this itinerary was made possible by Florida Keys tourism partners.

Lori A. May is a Seattle-based travel writer.
Photos © CT Shier.

Where I stayed / started

Kona Kai Resort & Gallery

http://www.konakairesort.com

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