Island Keys off the Beaten Path
You can traverse the majority of the Florida Keys by car, but there are other remote gems to explore during your time in the island chain. Taking the time to tour these hideaways of the archipelago is a surefire means of creating lasting memories. These isolated getaways are an ideal location for romantic excursions as well as family adventures. Keep in mind, there are literally hundreds of islands in the Florida Keys; however, many are subject to regulations and may not permit visitors. Should you decide to visit another island not mentioned here, please be sure to make yourself aware of any potential restrictions. You can visit the Florida State Parks website for more information.
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park: 24.9025° N, 80.6979° W
William J. Matheson built the historic and remarkably self-sufficient two-story home on this island a short ride from the shores of Islamorada. In the company of the onsite ranger, you can tour the interior of the house and the hardwood hammock forest; however, you may opt to visit the rest of the property grounds for a self-guided tour. Lignumvitae Key is poised for exceptional views of the sunset and is a great place for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking. The surrounding mangrove channels provide shelter to an array of wildlife, as well as an otherworldly experience for paddlers. No boat? No problem. KeyZ Charters operating out of Robbie’s Marina in addition to Seamonkeys Watersports in Islamorada both provide trips to the remote island.
Indian Key Historic State Park: 24.8783° N, 80.6771° W
Indian Key Historic State Park is another locale accessible only by boat or paddling (boats must anchor offshore to protect the surrounding flats). The island once hosted numerous facilities including a hotel housing a shipwreck salvaging crew, but was later abandoned in 1840 following the battle between the island settlers and Everglades Seminoles. You can rent either a kayak or paddleboard from Robbie’s Marina which is just half of a mile or about half an hour offshore. Indian Key is a fantastic choice for picnicking, hiking, snorkeling and swimming. The observation tower is another amenity providing island visitors with an exceptional view.
Dry Tortugas National Park
There are several islands comprising the Dry Tortugas National Park. The most significant structure being Fort Jefferson, constructed in the mid-1800s. The military base previously housed more than a thousand soldiers and additionally served as a prison for the infamous Dr. Samuel Mudd for his role in conspiring the assassination of President Lincoln. There is a ferry providing regular access to and from the Dry Tortugas National Park. This group of islands is an excellent destination for camping (reservations required), natural beaches, swimming and snorkeling.