The Upper Keys

Sunday, January 15, 2006


* Mile Marker 102.5 (oceanside): Snorkeling and diving the reefs at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (305-451-1202, is practically Key Largo's reason for being. The park has camping, showering and picnic facilities. Park fee $3.50 per person, snorkeling $35.

* MM 100 (oceanside): Take a look at the African Queen (305-451-4655,; free) -- the boat in the Bogie and Hepburn movie -- moored between the Ramada and Holiday Inn.

* MM 93.6 (bayside): Visit with recuperating winged ones at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in Tavernier. 

* MM 85.5 (bayside): Bring mosquito repellent when walking the quarry and the short nature trails at the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park (305-664-2540, windleykey; $1.50).

* MM 84.5 (oceanside): There's a hint of hokiness about it, but we loved the parrot shows and sea lion demos at Islamorada's Theater of the Sea (305-664-2431,; $23.95). Give yourself at least two hours.

* MM 84.5 (oceanside): Join a party boat night or day, or go offshore fishing with Robbie's of Islamorada at Holiday Isle (877-664-8498, www In the evening, the resort revelers toss back tropical drinks at the adjacent tiki huts.

* MM 81 (oceanside): The Florida Keys Memorial (across from the library; free) -- also known as the Hurricane Monument -- is a tribute to the 400-plus people killed during the 1935 Labor Day storm.

* MM 78.5 (bayside): Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park (305-664-2540, www.floridastate; $1) is accessible only by kayak or boat. Pick up a charter at the Robbie's branch at MM 77.5 (305-664-9814; $20), then take a ranger-guided tour.

* MM 77.4 (oceanside): A Spanish ship sunk in 1733 is a playground for snorkelers and divers. The original wreck at the San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Park (305-664-2540, www.florida; free), south of Indian Key, boasts fake cannons and an anchor. The area is marked by buoys; you'll have to arrange for a boat and diving equipment.

* MM 73.5 (oceanside): Anne's Public Beach on Lower Matecumbe Key is one of the area's few places to hit the sand. The two free beach areas are linked by a boardwalk with five pavilions and picnic tables. There's parking at either end, with restrooms.


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