Key Largo, the self-proclaimed Dive Capital of the world, is the northernmost part of the Florida Keys. If you continue to drive down The Florida Keys heading south you’ll hit Key West at the end. For those of you wondering, “Key” is the corrupted Spanish word “cayo” for “small island”.
Popular for its tropical weather and clear blue waters, Key Largo is great for adventures of all kinds. From stunning marine life, rusted underwater statues, bountiful coral reefs, and abandoned shipwrecks, Key Largo is home to an array of life—underwater and above.
I got the pleasure of going to Key Largo after a trip to Miami for a Wander Women Retreat thrown by my good friend Alex and we spent our time exploring, diving and also got to take a road trip down to Key West!
Mangroves are an essential part of the ecosystem in Key Largo, Florida. They are known for growing in saltwater with their roots sprawling above and below the water. What most people don’t know is that mangroves are essential for fighting the climate crisis due to their unparalleled ability to store carbon. This, in turn, helps provide for the ecosystem—animals, plants, and humans.
Combine this fun fact with the knowledge that Key Largo is where you can find the world’s absolute largest artificial reef, USS Spiegel Grove. This “reef” spans 510 feet long and 84 feet wide from a Landing Ship Dock that was purposely sunk in an effort to help the underwater ecosystem.
What To Do in Key Largo, FL
From diving to fishing, exploring, and learning, Key Largo is a great place to experience bountiful life and the pleasures of relaxation with the sun warming your skin and the sound of peaceful blue waters filling your ears.
Take a look at all the prime activities I’ve rounded together and make the most out of your trip to Key Largo, Florida!
There is an array of activities to experience in Key Largo, Florida, each as unforgettable and enjoyable as the last. Take your pick with the many and absolute best options provided below.
Become a Coral Restoration Foundation Citizen Scientist
Want to contribute to the restoration of coral reefs? TheCoral Restoration Foundation has made it possible for citizens to collaborate in research efforts in coral restoration and preservation. Participate by going on a dive in one of theirOkCoral! outplanting sites, where they are working to completely restore eight different reef sites located on the Florida Reef Tract. Furthermore, all that is required to make a difference on these well-founded and productive dives is a smartphone and their app, OkCoral.
You need to catch the sunset atSundowners Restaurant, a Key Largo favorite. Sitting outside is recommended as the waterfront view is like no other. If you time it perfectly, you’ll have your next phone wallpaper picture with the unforgettable sunset painting the water and sky.
This restaurant may serve seafood, but for those that are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan, Sundowners thankfully provides alternative options for these diets. In addition, you can enjoy that day’s fresh catch of fish while basking in the sunset’s glow.
Want to try another great spot, hit up Snooks Bayside restaurant for more great views and food!
Paddle Board Through the Mangroves
Take aguided tour through the mangroves in Key Largo, Florida! You’ll see the impact mangroves have on the local ecosystem and hopefully see some dolphins, stingrays, turtles, or manatees! This activity is perfect for all skill levels with a tour guide to lead the way and get the full-on experience of Tavernier Creek.
I personally did a stand-up paddle tour, yoga session and mangrove cleanup with Paddle the Florida Keys and it was awesome.
Check out the sunset and night tours available to experience an extra thrilling adventure!
Visit The History of Diving Museum
Open every day from 10 am-5 pm,The History of Diving Museum is great for all ages. Anyone that’s interested in learning about the international efforts and conservation made through diving will love this. The museum stores artifacts, books, and antiques in-house to share previous and historical efforts made to explore the sea. I was blown away by how people used to dive back in the day with homemade helmets and suits!
Inside you’ll find the world’s largest collection of diving helmets, armored suits, and memorabilia found from all over the globe.
Take A Walk at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Soak in the shade and tropical views atDagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. This park is perfect to enjoy the luscious Florida landscape. In fact, it is home to around 84 protected species that include: the American crocodile, wild cotton, and mahogany mistletoe. It’s only $2.50 per person for visiting and open sunrise to sunset 365 days a year.
A majority of the trails are paved, making them accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. The trails are self-guided, with signs peppering the trails with fun facts, but there are also ranger-guided tours available.
Harry Harris Park
A tad more expensive than Dagny Johnson State Park,Harry Harris Park costs $8 per adult, $5 per youth or senior. If you rented a boat or brought a boat to enjoy the blue Key Largo waters, Harry Harris Park has a boat ramp that costs $40 to launch from.
Harry Harris boasts a pet-friendly park open from sunrise to sunset that has a beach, tidal pool, playground, pavilions, restrooms, and BBQ grills. A great place to take the family to soak in all that Key Largo, and Florida, have to offer.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The very first undersea park in the United States,John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park spans 70 nautical square miles. Consequently, it offers mangrove swamps, tropical hammocks, and the link upland. Also, this park is notorious for what lies underwater—the John Pennekamp Coral Reefs and marine life. You can get a view of the underwater marine life and views without getting in the water with popular guidedglass-bottom boat tours. In addition, you can get up close and personal with guidedscuba diving orsnorkeling!
My favorite dive shop in Key Largo is the Florida Keys Dive Center and great if you’d like to go on more dives. We got to see an entire group of nurse sharks at one of the locations our captain took us!
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
An American hotel located in Key Largo, Florida,Jules’ Undersea Lodge is the only underwater hotel available in the United States. Guests get to scuba dive to their rooms 30 feet deep on the ocean floor located at the bottom of Emerald Lagoon.
Recommended for certified divers—you can also get your scuba certification through their Discover Scuba Diving course! I did my refresher course here. While the visibility isn’t great because it’s somewhat swampy in the area, it’s fun to be able to peep into the windows of the underwater hotel. The whole area is a bit kitschy, but a fun south Florida staple. However, if you want to stay the night in the underwater hotel it could set you back over $900 a night!
Join Jules’ for aguided eco-tour around Jules’ Lagoon to learn more about marine life and the history that still confounds thousands to this day.
Everglades National Park
Camp out with the family atEverglades National Park. This is a 1.5 million-acre wetlands preservation consisting of coastal mangroves, pine Flatwoods, and sawgrass marshes. Furthermore, it’s home to a wide range of animal species like the endangered leatherback turtle and West Indian manatee. Rent out asafari-style eco-tent at Flamingo Everglades campground located at the Everglades National Park.
Whether with family or friends, get a taste of the local fish Key Largo has to offer by catching a ride on a Fishing Charter.Key Largo Fishing Adventures specializes in family fishing adventures with offshore/reef and wreck fishing.
Check outMiss Chief Fishing Charters, a family-owned and operated fishing charter boat that loves to give its guests not only a fun, but an educational, experience on the waters of Key Largo, Florida. They cater to families and groups of seasoned anglers alike, providing full, ¾, and ½ day charters year-round.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
The third-largest coral barrier reef in the whole world, the Florida Reef, is the only barrier coral reef in North America.
Support a better life for dolphins atIsland Dolphin Care where all proceeds go to benefiting the care and life of dolphins. Take the family or your friends to experience the process of caring for dolphins. Furthermore, you’ll learn how the program has changed the lives of thousands of children with special needs, and more. Rated the #1 Key Largo Activity, Island Dolphin Care is a must activity for day trips and week-long visits alike.
This film is a popular 1948 American crime drama starring Humphrey Bogart. His character visits Key Largo, Florida, to pay his respects to the family of his late war buddy. Humphrey Bogart’s character discovers mobsters are staying at this family’s hotel and conflict ensues when criminals try to take over the hotel. With 7.8 star ratings on IMDb, the movie Key Largo is a must-watch when visiting Key Largo, Florida.
Enjoy A Half Day Snorkel Trip on the Reefs
Enjoy AHalf Day Snorkel Trip On the Reefs available for all ages! Snorkel over and around the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Pennekamp State Park. You’ll also have the ability to soak in the views of multiple reefs like Molasses, Elbow, French Reef, and the famous Christ of the Abyss on Dry Rocks. These reefs are extra special as they are conjoined together as the third-largest living reef system in the whole world. They are also the only living coral reef in the United States.
Soak in the colorful and impactful views of marine life like spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, moray eels, dolphins, and more!
Eat at a Cute Key Largo Cafe
You have to eat while you’re in Key Largo—especially if you know you’ll be going on fun adventures. Besides the beachside dinner spots listed above like Snooks and Sundowners, I recommend the following for cafes and lunches:
While I was there we stayed at the Drift Hotel and it was nice with detached rooms in a very Key Largo vibe. If you want to upgrade and want something fancy, I recommend checking out Baker’s Cay Resort. It was beautiful and the restaurant and bar areas were amazing with gorgeous sunset views.
The Florida Keys, particularly Key Largo, is an amazing town to visit, relax, and get away from it all. All why getting to participate in epic adventures on the water. Whether you’re a hiker, diver, snorkeler, fisherman/woman, or just love to lounge and have a cocktail watching the sunset, Key Largo is for you!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 30 something from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography, and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.