Key Largo Fl
Once you leave civilization at Florida City, Key largo is the first
town and first island you come to as you travel down US 1 -- across
a dozen plus miles of beautiful and still totally pristine Everglades
country, then along a narrow strip of mangrove splitting Barnes Sound
from Blackwater Sound and Florida Bay, now across the old swing bridge
at Jewfish Creek, finally over Lake Surprise. And there it is: Key
Largo, the stuff of myth, located some 55 miles and about an hour
south of Miami International Airport and just 24 miles south of Homestead.
You are now on a different planet.
Since 1948, when it was the setting for the movie, "Key Largo," starring
Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall, the name Key
Largo has become world famous. In fact, Key Largo is one of the oldest
place names on early maps of the North American continent, dating
back to the sixteenth century when the Spanish explored the area
looking for riches to take back to Spain. Today it is Miami’s Cape
Cod -- and for the rest of us it is the Gateway to the American Caribbean.
The climate is subtropical and foliage is lush. Temperatures have
only a few degrees day-night fluctuation, compared with much of the
rest of Florida. There’s a steady sea breeze, and rain tends to be
Key Largo has become synonymous with the laid-back Keys lifestyle.
Yet Key Largo is also a particularly vibrant community due to it’s
being close to Miami. On the weekends, it is an easy drive for people
to visit the Keys and their unique ambience. For investors it means
great occupancy rates, for 2nd homeowners a quick and easy getaway.
If you want to make this your home, well, Key largo was ranked No.
11 of the 50 Best Places to Live list by Men's Journal Magazine in
If you’re looking to relocate here, there are homes as of Sept 2005
listed from $269,000. Of course they go up from there: the median
price is XXXX to give you some perspective. (To get an idea on how
prices work, look under the investment page for the Florida Keys.)
The Key Largo housing market is diverse and eclectic, and includes
everything from ultra-modern big new houses and condos to just plain
old-Florida funky, and everything in between. It is a complex market,
and will take the buyer or investor some time to comprehend.
The market also covers a lot of physical territory: Key Largo itself,
the largest and longest of the Florida Keys, stretches for 30 miles
from the resort yachting community of Ocean Reef at the island’s
north end (which exits to the Mainland by a separate bridge over
Card Sound) to the community of Tavernier at its southern tip
Moreover, another part of the diverse Upper Keys real Estate market
is Islamorada, the 17-mile long, half-mile wide, often handsomely
groomed municipality that picks up where Key Largo leaves off and
is comprised of Plantation Key, Windley Key, and Upper and Lower
Some Facts About Key Largo
It has a year-round population (not counting the ebb and flow of
tourists and weekenders, and Miami daytrippers) of approximately
15,000 and a median age of 43.
The primary industries here are:
Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services
Educational, health and social services
Key Largo is served by a full-service hospital in Tavernier, providing
easy health care access to all residents
Key Largo children attend award-winning public and private schools
covering grades from pre kindergarten through High School
You can’t really get bored here, unless you just don’t like the
Dive: If you snorkel or dive, Key Largo is a terrific place to live.
Long considered the sport diving capital of the world, Key Largo
is home to John Pennekamp State Park, the world’s first underwater
park. I used to camp and snorkel there on weekends with my kids.
And I’ve also had some great times diving wrecks and exploring the
surrounding waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
There are lots of dive shops for folks at all skill and preference
Fish: If you like to fish, Key Largo is (if that’s possible) an even
better place to live. Stretching down to Islamorada, the bonefishing
capital of the world, there is a fabulous “backcountry” – Florida
Bay – and offshore you’ve got the Gulf Stream and every kind of pelagic
sports fish you can imagine. If you’ve got your own boat, great;
if you don’t, you’ll find one of the largest fishing fleets per square
mile in the world, between Key Largo and Islamorada.
Boats and Toys: See above. There is every possible sea thing to rent
and enjoy. In fact, Key Largo and the rest of the Upper Keys, including
Islamorada, are much better this way than the Middle Keys or Lower
Keys with the exception of Key West.
Kayaking, Canoeing, Photography and Birding: These don’t all necessarily
go together. My friend and I did a lot of fishing from our kayaks
before it became the latest craze. But if you want to explore shallow-water
backcountry to enjoy birds and wildlife, and want to consider paddleboating
as opposed to motorboating as the way to do it, then this part of
the Keys will likely please you more than areas farther south and
If you’re a private pilot, there’s a basic airstrip for small planes
on Tavernier, and you can even live next to the runway.
Living Here – Other Options
So what about the rare person who buys a home here but doesn’t want
to spend every waking minute on the water? No problem. Here’s just
a few things that contribute to the quality of life for the person
who relocates to Key Largo.
Eating out: You’ve got tempting choices here, ranging from easy
drives to Islamorada – famous throughout the Keys for its eateries
– to the Mainland. And right here on Key Largo you’ve got excelent
choices of just about every possible cuisine. And not only that:
ever noticed how few waterfront restaurants and bars there seem to
be in waterfront areas? Well, Key Largo is an exception!
Gallery hopping: Not exactly Key West by any means, but the Upper
Keys from Key Largo through the long slender town of Islamorada offer
a lively community of artisans, artists in residence, and galleries
Shopping: One of the drawbacks (to some residents) of living farther
“down” the Keys (in the direction of Key West) is the “need to get
off the Rock” syndrome combined with the reality of limited shopping
options. In the Upper Keys (Key Largo, Islamorada) that’s less of
a problem. You’re an hour from Miami
Other stuff: There’s local night life in the Upper Keys, unlike the
Middle Keys (some, but less) or the Lower Keys (not much). And there’s
lots of tennis, if that’s your game. There’s also plenty of local
shopping and services; that’s worth mentioning because the farther
south and west you go in the Keys, the less true that is.
In conclusion, Key Largo definitely feels like you’re in a different
part of the country, due partly to the aquamarine water and the Tiki
bars and just the general ambience. So if you want to be away from
traffic and a rushed lifestyle, but yet want to be near shopping
and everything else that Miami has to offer, this could be just the
ticket. It’s hard to imagine a better price-value proposition in
For more information on other topics see the Florida Keys general
.©2006. Florida Real Estate Network Inc. All Rights Reserved
Islamorada (MM 85) is one of the most popular spots in the Keys.
It’s not call a "Key," because it’s actually made up of
six different islands including Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe
Key, Plantation Key, Windley Key and two offshore islands: Indian
Key and Lignumvitae Key. Islamorada has a reputation as the Sport
Fishing Capital of the World, and it's well-earned. Here you'll find
several extremely skilled recreational fishing captains. Islamorada
is also known as a place where you can swim with dolphins, enjoy
the History of Diving Museum, feed tarpon, get married, and have
your honeymoon. As you’ll find along any of the Florida Keys, there
are many places to have a drink, enjoy the warm tropical breeze and
listen to a local band.
Things to do in Islamorada
Islamorada is a top destination for people looking for things to
do in Florida. Whether it's fishing, diving, snorkeling, or just
hanging out at the beach and swimming with friends, there are many
great things to do when you’re visiting Islamorada. There are bars,
shops, museums, art centers and fabulous fresh seafood. Speaking
of seafood--the fishing both on- and off-shore is awesome! This may
be the only place where you can catch a sailfish offshore in the
morning and then go into the backcountry and jump a tarpon, snook,
redfish or bonefish later that same day. Whether you’re looking for
something to eat or just something to brag about, chances are you’ll
catch it here. Another favorite thing to do here is to visit the
Theater of the Sea Marine Mammal Park, where you can swim with dolphins,
sea lions and string rays in the saltwater lagoons. You can also
celebrate a birthday or get married at the Marine Mammal Park, which
is open year round and has many entertaining and educational programs.
iformation courtesy of http://www.placesaroundflorida.com/Florida_Keys/Islamorada/
Duck Key is a small islet located at mile marker 61 off the
Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. Vehicles cross over the island's
canals by way of picturesque arched bridges. In the distance is Grassy
Key which is part of Marathon. Sixty miles further south is Key West.
Hawks Cay Island Resort; located midway down the Florida Keys on
the secluded 60 acre island of Duck Key offers some of the world's
best fishing, exciting water sports, dolphin interaction programs,
a saltwater lagoon, five gorgeous swimming pools, and a variety of
luxurious accommodations, including guest rooms, suites and villas.
Plan a vacation with your family and friends where you can dine in
exquisite restaurants and relax in a full-service spa, while kids
and teens have fun, all in the casual, relaxed pace of the Keys.
From battling high-flying sailfish in the bright blue waters of
the Atlantic to stalking shallow water flats in search of world-record
bonefish, Florida Keys fishing and fishing charters are all about
variety — and even more about catching big fish.
Hawks Cay Resort, in the Middle Keys, is the premier Florida Keys
fishing destination. Located only a few miles from the dock are the
only living coral reef in the continental United States, the strong
Gulfstream currents, the fish-filled waters of Everglades National
Park and many productive local flats and bridges.
Nowhere else in the world do you have access to such a diverse expanse
of bountiful fishing grounds, all within minutes of the dock!
Hawks Cay Marina is home to the most knowledgeable and friendly
Florida Keys fishing captains and guides, and offers a complete fleet
of both inshore and offshore charter boats (rides and rentals) to
accommodate anglers of all ages and skill levels.
So whether you’re an experienced angler looking to fish with one
of the best guides in the Florida Keys, or a beginner looking to
spend relaxing Florida vacation on the water with your family, join
us at Hawks Cay Resort for an unforgettable day reeling in trophy
catches in the clear tropical waters of the Florida Keys.
There are more than 1,200 colorful creatures that inhabit the clear
waters of the Florida Keys and you may encounter many of them during
your scuba diving adventure with Dive Duck Key Experience.
Join our professional dive team at Hawks Cay Resort for the best
scuba and coral reef diving in the Florida Keys. You'll explore the
only living coral reef system in the continental United States and
enter an underwater world that’s home to sea turtles, a diverse collection
of tropical fish and animals, and bright coral arrangements only
found here in the Florida Keys.
Whether you’re an expert scuba diver looking to probe wrecks deep
underwater or a beginner who has never donned the mask before and
would like to give SNUBA® a try (no courses required!), Dive Duck
Key offers dive trips and scuba lessons for all ages and skill levels.
So come aboard the Seafari, and go below the Atlantic Ocean. The
best Florida Keys diving experience awaits at Hawks Cay Resort!
Key Colony Beach
Key Colony Beach is located in the Heart of the Florida Keys at
mile marker 53.5 on US Highway 1 which is known locally as the Overseas
Highway. Driving south from Miami on US 1, the Keys begin about mile
marker 106 in Key Largo and extend to mile marker 0 in Key West.
The city, called the "Gem of the Florida Keys," is a on
an island just south of the Overseas Highway connected via a causeway
with a very small bridge.
Most residences are on canals with quick access to the Gulf or Atlantic
Ocean or have ocean views which make the city ideal for fishing and
boating activities. In addition to the residences, there are many
businesses in the city, including restaurants, a charter fishing
fleet, marina, boat rentals, clothing store, hair salon, dive and
tackle shop, liquor store, gas station, convenience store, hotels,
real estate offices and a 9-hole par-3 golf course.
There are just over 800 residents of Key Colony Beach, but the population
peaks to about 4,000 in mid-winter. The city was founded in the early
fifties by developer Phil Sadowski and was incorporated in September
1957. The city is situated on 286 acres and contains approximately
1,400 units of housing. Many property owners make their homes available
to visitors for rent on a monthly or weekly basis. Our upscale quiet
tropical island atmosphere draws people from all over the world.
Geographically, the Middle Keys stretch from the southern tip of
Islamorada at the high-rise Channel 5 bridge – which has, in both
directions, perhaps the most beautiful and stunning views in the
Keys – to Marathon’s improbable, spectacular Seven Mile Bridge connecting
Marathon to the Lower Keys. Most of us have seen this famous 7 mile
bridge in movies (True Lies) or television commercials. It neatly
divides the Atlantic Ocean on the East from the Gulf of Mexico to
the West, a mere thread of concrete across the 75-100 square miles
of azure and green seas and “flats” and islands that your eyes encompass
As a practical matter, the Middle Keys basically refer to the “large”
incorporated town and bustling commercial center of Marathon and
the nearby expensive housing areas of Hawks Key (Duck Key), Key Colony
Beach, and Long Key. The other islands in the Marathon region are
Boot Key, Knight Key, Hog Key, Vaca Key, Stirrup Key, Crawl and Little
Crawl Key, East and West Sister’s Island, Deer Key and Fat Deer Key,
Long Pine Key and Grassy Key. Marathon’s metro area sits between
mile markers 48 and 55 and has a non-tourist residential population
of more than 13,000 (it feels bigger than that), with a median age
Marathon is centrally located 80 miles south of mainland Florida
and more or less just 50 from Key Largo and 48 from Key West. Marathon
is served by bus lines to Key West and the Mainland, and by the sleek
Marathon airport offering connections to Miami and Ft Lauderdale
and from there to anywhere in the world.
The primary industries here are:
Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services
Educational,health and social services
The Marathon area is definitely a destination point and has hundreds
of small and medium size business to support it. It is fairly self-contained,
too. It’s not necessary to go anywhere else, because everything you
really need is right there, including shopping and services, police
and fire, healthcare facilities including a modern full service hospital,
all the usual municipal functions, and outdoor recreational activities
like boating, fishing, and diving.
If you want to work in the Keys in the construction trades or certain
kinds of services or consulting, Marathon can be a good location,
because it is centrally located – jobs and commissions from Key Largo
to Key West are pretty easily reached on a within-day commuting basis.
This sense of Marathon as a sort of “hub” for the whole middle section
of the Keys, including the edges of the Upper Keys and Lower Keys,
goes back a long ways. In the early 20th century Henry Flagler built
a large work camp and supply base at Marathon while constructing
his “railroad that went to sea”.
The Marathon area is primarily an outdoor community; there’s no
reason to relocate here, in my opinion, if you don’t love the water,
either for play or for work, whether on weekdays or weekends, since
you can’t get away from it even if you wanted to, and if you work
you’re going to drive across a lot of it whether headed up or down
And Marathon thrives on its central Keys, watery environment. Marathon
has excelent swimming beaches (not common in the Keys), and good
diving and snorkeling, from novice to experts, at all water depths.
Some divers think that some of the best parts of the coral reef along
the Keys are right here. The Sombrero Key Lighthouse area is an example.
Fishing can be either oceanside or Backcountry (gulfside), with
your own boat, on party boats, or with a personal guide. There’s
plenty of flats fishing, as in the rest of the Keys, but oceanside
offshore fishing (excelent) prevails, since there’s not quite the
same extensive range of backcountry options as elsewhere in the Keys,
given there’s fewer islands and the area isn’t quite as wild as having
Everglades National Park for your backdoor neighbor (like Key Largo).
Boating in general is a little different here. Most boating is fairly
open water or along the Overseas Highway and Keys chain; there aren’t
as many protected areas (think multiple islands for kayaking or canoeing)
as there are in either the Upper Keys or the Lower Keys or Key West.
And waters seem to have more of a chop more of the time here, too.
On both sides the water gets deeper faster.
But if you want to be on a canal with a big boat tied up at your
back door, this is a good part of the Keys to be in: lots of deep
canals, and easy Ocean access. (Most of the deep canals and good
big boating access is on the south, or Oceanside, part of the islands.)
It’s also one of the few spots in the Keys where you can easily get
a big boat or a sailboat back and forth from Bay to Ocean.
In addition to these water-based sporting activities, there’s 9-hole
Par 3 golf at Key Colony Beach, plenty of tennis, some nightlife
particularly at the resort hotels, and a variety of restaurants where
you can eat outside under the sun or indoors in air-conditioned comfort.
There’s also Islamorada and Big Pine just short drives away for variety.
As of Sept 2005, the least expensive available home started at $345.000.
Marathon and its surrounding residential islands have a range of
homes from Estates to manufactured. Like much of the Keys, a lot
of the properties are waterfront, and that means it’s going to cost
more. But Marathon has also been a market where traditionally, if
you worked in the Keys, you could find reasonably affordable homes.
To get an idea on how prices work look under the investment page
for the Florida Keys.
In conclusion, Marathon has a variety of housing stock, and its
central location gets you to Miami in 2 hours and Key West in just
over an hour. So if you really want to get away from it all, and
yet be relatively close to things either direction, this could be
the best of the Keys areas for you. You can enjoy outdoors but still
have good options of restaurants and shopping nearby.
.©2006. Florida Real Estate Network Inc. All Rights Reserved
Big Pine Key
Big Pine in particular is one of the largest and most interesting
Islands in the Keys. It has a population just over 5000 and as of
Sept 2007-there were homes starting at $240,000. As you get closer
to the water or buy a home on a canal, the prices rise accordingly.
But there are quite a few different developments, mostly of single
family houses, and some are pricier than others.
Water depth affects prices, and some areas have about 15 inches
and some have 3-4 feet. Obviously this means you can have a certain
kind of boat in some areas that won’t work in other areas. It depends
what you’re looking for. The shallower areas have more direct and
private access to a lot of the wilder and more pristine parts of
the Island and adjacent backcountry. They may also (but not reliably)
be less expensive.
Until now, on the drive down the Keys from Miami, the housing areas
were arrayed on either side of the road, gulfside/bayside or oceanside.
Here it’s different. The 2-lane, 45 mph Overseas Highway (what a
misnomer!) runs across the southern edge of Big Pine, through the
restaurant and business area; most of the residential areas are situated
several minutes drive to the north. To some buyers that slow drive
(30-35 mph speed limits, for the deer) is a price deterrent the farther
north you go; to others the isolation means extra value.
Big Pine may be “remote,” caught as it is between the commercial
centers of Marathon and Key West, but Big Pine does have it’s own
major grocery store, post office and restaurants. It has some medical
facilities, police and fire protection, and other basics of a “town
It certainly has some interesting and unique retail shops, but in
general it doesn’t have a lot of socalled unnecessary shopping. In
fact the residents of the other Keys mentioned above generally will
go to either Marathon or Key West for both basic needs and discretionary
shopping. There is one big exception to that, on Saturday mornings,
when it seems like everybody in the Lower Keys comes to the Big Pine
Nor does Big Pine have its own school system. Monroe County’s elementary
and middle schools for the Lower Keys are on Sugarloaf; for high
school kids are bused to Key West.
That’s this isolation feel like? Not bad, actually.
Key West is both a place and a state of mind. It lies about as far
away as you can go in this USA, almost part of the tropics, some
four hours and 150 miles south and west of Miami. You cross a lot
of bridges and spectacular blue and green water to get there, and
when you get there you’re only 90 miles from Cuba. Cruise ships consider
a stop at Key West part of their Caribbean itineraries!
It’s not a big place, and it is a place where real people live.
It has a year-round population of just over 26,000 and a median resident
age of 39 years. Key West also includes the neighboring communities
of Stock Island, where a lot of the remaining commercial fishing
is based, and which used to be where Key West’s supplies were “stocked”
in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Key Haven, with wide canals
and lots of pleasure boats.
Key West has been described in about a zillion travel guides and
Web sites and the name used in countless movies as the place people
want to finally get away to. Having lived in Cudjoe Key (23 miles
away) and selling real Estate in Key West, I have a good feel for
The best way to describe Key West, is a vacation place. Meaning
whenever you’re there, the ambience and atmosphere catches you up
in it and you could well be somewhere in the Bahamas or the Caribbean.
Key West is also a state of mind. You can watch sunsets from Mallory
Square on the harbor, or from the bars and restaurants on the boat
basins. You can shop or whatever on famous Duval Street. Since nobody
knows how to throw a party like Key West does, you can join in at
Fantasy Fest (think Mardi Gras) at the end of October, and see for
yourself. This is, after all, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Whatever
you imagine about Key West is probably true.
Or you can enjoy the reality of Key West’s other state of mind too
– its wonderful diversity, history, and creativity. Lots of writers,
artists, artisans, and musicians have always called this state of
mind/special place home, from Hemingway to the present day.
There are also plenty of areas in Key West where the locals go besides
Duval Street and the sunset bars. In fact when you get off of Duval,
you will find restaurants, art galleries, grocery stores and antique
shops in the neighborhoods, and tree-lined little streets with lots
of tropical foliage where people live.
So although you’re in one of the most popular tourist destinations
in the world, the neighborhoods here are quiet, lined with historical
architecture and have a very comfy feel. And the historic district
is very compact. You can walk everywhere.
These areas outside of Duval, in my opinion with the exception of
the Atlantic side of Duval are where the good restaurants are. Places
like Louie’s Backyard, Blue Heaven, and Michaels to name a few are
popular with the locals and the tourists who have visited here many
times and have found them. My neighbor on Cudjoe Key, a longtime
Florida and Keys resident, says to add Café Sole, Mangia Mangia,
and Antonia’s to that list. (Café Sole is right across a quiet little
street from what just might be the best Haitian art gallery in America.)
Well, truth is, everybody’s got their favorites when it comes to
restaurants and the hidden gems you can find here. Part of the fun
is walking around and discovering them.
Key West has all kinds of options when it comes to playing outside:
diving and fishing, sailing, lying on the beach, biking and visiting
historical sites. And you can go for boatrides on the harbor, ranging
from sunset sailing schooners to fast speedboats that spin in circles.
Boats and rides tend leave from the harbor area or the boat basin(s),
but there’s a number of other options too.
Key West international airport offers flights to Florida cities
like Miami, Ft Lauderdale and Orlando. From there you can fly anywhere
in the world.
There is a “flying boat” ferry connecting to Ft Myers (takes a few
hours), and of course Cruise ships stop here as a layover point or
destination. There is no train from or to points north.
The balance of travel back to mainland Florida is by automobile
or bus on US1, known as the Overseas Highway.
You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced rush hour in Key West
– some people swear there is no such thing. Not much, anyway.
Finally, within Key West there is little need for anything more
than your own two feet. But you can drive, and there’s decent parking
on the periphery of downtown. There are also some buses, and taxis,
of both the four-wheeled and two-legged variety! Every once in a
while somebody comes up with the idea of using boat taxis to get
from Point A to Point B, but this isn’t reliable.
Homes in Key west are expensive – less expensive in Stock Island
and very expensive in Key Haven. As of Sept 2005, homes in Key West
started at $385,000 but much higher prices are commonplace. Some
of the tiny historic-type homes carry price tags that surprise people,
but then you have to remember that it’s a small island in high demand,
and there’s not a lot of inventory.
There’s much more inventory when it comes to condominiums, but even
condos are getting very pricy. Timeshares, allowing week-at-a-time
purchases, have become more common too.
* * * * *
In conclusion, several visits to the Keys and in particular Key
West made me sell my business in Oregon and move to the Keys. It
is an adventure and personally, I made a decision that I wanted to
be one of the people who went on vacation and didn’t leave.a
For more information re cost of living etc, go to the general information
links for the Florida Keys.
.©2006. Florida Real Estate Network Inc. All Rights Reserved