Among all the islands that conforms the limestone archipelago known as the Florida Keys, Key Largo is the largest of all of them and the second most popular after Key West. Key Largo is part of the Upper Florida Keys, stretching from this island to the south of Long Key. The island and town share the same name and run from Mile Marker 106 to Mile Marker 97. Aside from the fame of the general Florida Keys, Key Largo is also known worldwide by the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Laurent Bacall in 1948, but curiously none of them ever visited Key Largo and the movie was almost entirely filmed on Hollywood stages, with just a few shots taken here.
Anyway, this island is also extremely popular because of the high number of diving sites concentrated within all the Florida Keys, featuring the most accessible coral reef at the John Pennekamp Underwater Park, the first of its class in the United States.
Out of the 3-mile federal limit, the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary is adjacent to the Water Park and the best place for Key Largo fishing, diving and snorkeling in the Florida Keys.
The sanctuary itself has different diving zones, including the Carysfort Reef, where travelers can visit the 100-foot tall Carysfort Lighthouse, built in 1852, or the Dry Rocks, where the Christ of the Deep statue is found.
There is similitude between this bronze statue and the bronze statue, which was built in Italy by Guido Galletti. The Christ of the Deep statue weights 4,000 lb. is 9 foot high and installed underwater as a shrine to sailors and people lost at sea.
Do not worry if venturing underwater is not your kind of pass time. Key Largo is also a great place for taking one of the numerous eco-tours available, or going around in a boat, kayak, or canoe day trip.
In fact, your visit will not be complete without touring the mangroves, discovering the former limestone of the island, or visiting at least the Molasses Reef, named after a Jamaican ship carrying sugarcane molasses, which wrecked here. This reef is spanned from Fort Lauderdale, in the mainland Florida, to Dry Tortugas, near Key West.
Another maritime attraction of the Florida Keys (Key Largo) is Dolphin Plus, a place where locals and guests can swim with dolphins and access other recreational and educational experiences. Your children may also enjoy a classroom session and hands-on interaction here at Mile Marker 99.5.
Key Largo has a very special accommodation facility not available elsewhere. The Jules Undersea Lodge, a 21 feet beneath the ocean surface habitat anchored permanently at Mile Marker 103.2, this lodge has been featured in countless magazines, including “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” and “Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue”.
The Jules was originally built to research Puerto Rico’s coast under the name of “La Chalupa” Research Laboratory. Today the laboratory is still functioning, but also provides lodging to people who are provided with hot showers, air conditioning, VCR/DVD, stereo music, and a fully stocked galley for overnight stays.
For dining, Key Largo has numerous restaurants, bars, and cafeterias, besides popular fast-food chains. Among the most representative dining places of the island you will find the Alabama Jack’s, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, The Fish House, and Crack’d Conch, a restaurant serving fresh seafood, sandwiches and more than 100 different types of beer.
Nightlife on the island is not as vibrant as those of Key West where every night is a carnival. In Key Largo, the nights invite you to intimate places with soft music and just a slight tropical reminiscence.
However, nightlife fun can be found at most of the bars, such as the Latin American Bayfront Grill & Bar, and the Gilbert’s Resort Tiki Bar & Grill. Otherwise, most of the major hotels and resorts have their own nightly entertaining, including music and dancing.
In the Florida Keys, Key Largo is more than a cult place after the Hollywood movie; the town is your entrance ticket to enjoy the Florida Keys. Once getting here, you will probably be tempted to visit the adjacent Upper Keys and continue traveling south to the rest of these islands, best known as the terrestrial branch of the biblical paradise.