Famous for being “The Diving Capital of the World,” Key Largo is home to continental America’s only living coral reef and is known for its eco-friendly tourism.
Home to the United States' only living coral reef, Key Largo offers world-class diving and fishing, immaculate beaches and remote ecosystems.
Key Largo, a narrow barrier isle stretching 33 miles (53 kilometers) is the largest and northernmost island in a chain of islands called the Florida Keys. Key Largo is easily accessible from the mainland via two routes: the Card Sound Bridge and U.S. Route 1. The latter of these continues to run down the middle of the island, and is lined by many hotels, restaurants and bars. This route is a four-lane highway, and many sections run parallel to the Florida Keys' Overseas Heritage Trail, for visitors who also want to travel the Keys by bicycle.
Once on the island, ecotourists will appreciate Key Largo’s many opportunities for exploring. To the west, you’ll find the Everglades National Park. Here, you can kayak through secluded brackish waters, where the freshwater of the Everglades mixes with the Florida Bay saltwater. Keep an eye out for crocodiles, manatees, alligators and sea turtles, all of which inhabit these waters.
To the east of the island is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Dive below the surface to see the colorful underwater world of fragile living reefs. The park has many amenities, including kayak and boat rentals, nature trails and numerous campsites with electricity and water.
One of the iconic and most photographed offshore attributes in waters adjacent to the park is a 4,00 pound bronze statue of Jesus, known as the Christ of the Abyss, which sits on the ocean floor at a depth of 25 feet (7.6 meters) at a site called the Key Largo Dry Rocks.
Another popular location for scuba divers and snorkelers is the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) offshore. Be sure to read the regulations before exploring the sanctuary and follow the rules to help protect and conserve this fragile habitat.
Back on land, the opportunities for wildlife watching continue. Visit the boardwalk of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center to see rescued wild birds, including hawks, egrets and spoonbills.