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Around 1,700 islands full of palm trees, surrounded by azure blue water and only accessible by a 205-kilometre-long highway straight across the ocean… Welcome to the Florida Keys. This group of islands, often called the ‘Caribbean’ of the United States, offers a wide range of water activities, from fishing and diving to sailing and kite-surfing. Take the highway to the sea and discover the colours of the Keys!
The sea as far as you can see – that’s the view that dominates when driving from Florida to Key West, the most westerly island in the Keys and southernmost point of the United States. Of the hundreds of islands that make up the Keys, only a few dozen are inhabited. The original inhabitants of the Keys came from the Bahamas and were called ‘conchos’. Nowadays, this is a common name for all inhabitants of the island group.
Without a doubt, the most popular island is Key West. Apart from its relaxed tropical climate that is so typical of the Keys, this island also has a city vibe. Lively Duval Street has dozens of clubs, bars and restaurants. Renting a bike is a great way to get a good overview of the island. Key West was once the home of writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived and worked on his books here from 1931 to 1939. His house on Whitehead Street is now a museum. The furnishings of the colonial building are the same as when Hemingway lived here. Sloppy Joe’s, the bar that was often frequented by the writer, is also worth a visit – even more so since Hemingway came up with the name of the bar, which was originally called the Silver Slipper.
It goes without saying that the Keys are fantastic for fishing. A fish that every fisherman wants to catch at least once in his or her lifetime is the tarpon. This incredibly strong fish lives in the waters around the Keys and can be caught all year round, but the greatest chance of success is from March to July. Lots of fishing boats leave from the island of Islamorada and Key West in particular. The guide knows exactly where to be to catch these monsters.
The Lower Keys are the least developed islands in the chain and are famous for their beautiful nature. These islands are particularly popular with snorkelers and divers. The gigantic Looe Key Reef is spectacular. The rock walls are covered with hard and soft coral, with brightly coloured tropical fish swimming all around. You can also wreck dive in the Lower Keys. The Adolphus Busch Sr. was sunk here in 1998. Now that it lies on the bottom of the sea, it is home to a huge variety of sea life.