As a Florida resident, I’ve been vacationing in the Florida Keys for many years. It’s the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway or a full on vacation. Key Largo is one of the northern most keys and is only a little over 2 hours from where I live, how great is that?! Yes, I feel like I already live in a vacation destination in Lake Worth Beach but there’s something special about getting out of town and going further south. The weather is pretty similar to my area but the island-like laid back vibe really makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the Caribbean all while being close to home and not ever leaving the U.S! In this post, we’re going through some of the best things to do in Key Largo to have a relaxing vacation.
Before we get started, you’re probably wondering where exactly is Key Largo? The Florida keys start at the very south end of Florida and locations go by the mile marker. Key Largo makes up from mile marker 107 to 91!
Have a Key Lime Colada
If you didn’t feel like you were on vacation yet, have a key lime colada and you’ll really get a sip of paradise. This mix of Pina Colada and lime liquour are sure to bring a smile on your face. Key Lime Pie is a staple in the Florida Key’s so you can call these the “adult” liquid version!
Skipper’s Dockside Restaurant has the most delicious Key Lime Colada’s.
Or if you want to make one at home, check out my Homemade Key Lime Colada recipe.
Lay on a Hammock
I love me some quality hammock time. They’re great for naps, reading, or just simply enjoying an ocean breeze. What can be more relaxing than swaying between 2 palm trees over the water?!
Bring your favorite book or music and take a chill pill on a hammock overlooking the water of the Atlantic Ocean
Stay at a Classic Keys Hotel
I will be the first to admit that some of the hotels in the Keys are not your standard Marriott or chain hotel. But that is part of the charm! Most local hotels are family owned and have so much to offer – just don’t expect a fancy high end place.
They look like nothing special from the main road but once you get onto the property, BOOM! … there’s a beach with Adirondack chairs and hammocks and tiki huts! Some of them even have a boat slip if you’re lucky enough to bring one of those with you. Check out The Seafarer or Rock Reef Resort – both have boat slips. The Rock Reef also has a boat ramp for easy access.
The last time we were in Key Largo, we stayed at another spot called Kona Kai Resort. It’s know for it’s lush botanical gardens and quaint Florida Keys atmosphere.
A lot of hotels, like the Kona Kai, will provide paddle boards and kayaks for you to use during your stay. We took the kayaks out almost every day. Watching the sunset while kayaking along the peaceful waters in Key Largo is just so relaxing!
If you’re looking for a different type of stay, there’s even a place where you can stay underwater. Check out Jules Undersea Lodge for more information on this. I haven’t tried this but it looks pretty cool!
Watch An Epic Sunset
One of the best parts about the Florida Keys is that you get both the sunrise and the sunset. On the Atlantic / East side – the sunrise. On the Bay / West side – the sunset. And all right across the street from each other!
Most restaurants and hotels on the Bayside will get you a front row seat every night.
Snooks Bayside even has a countdown and rings a big horn when the sun is fully set every night!
The Playa Largo Marriott Key Largo is also one of my favorite places to watch the sunset. The restaurant there, Sol by the Sea, is not your average hotel spot. The decor is a nautical coastal chic theme – If I could steal all of their furnishing and wall hanging for my own house and backyard, I totally would!! You don’t need to be a hotel guest to enjoy this charming atmosphere. Get there a little early to secure a seat along the railing.
TIP: If you are traveling to the Florida keys, you don’t want to miss Key West. There are tons of free things to do in Key West and a more upbeat atmosphere.
Kayaking is a great low-key way to get out on the water and explore. Kayak rentals are relatively cheap for a whole day and some hotels even provide them for free. There are so many different places to explore on a kayak – through the mangroves or paddle out to your own private “island”.
Key Largo offers excellent opportunities for kayaking with its calm and clear waters, diverse ecosystems, and beautiful scenery. Here are some great spots for kayaking in Key Largo.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
This park not only offers fantastic snorkeling and diving but also has designated kayaking trails that wind through the mangrove forests. Paddle through the mangrove tunnels and explore the park’s unique marine environment.
The western side of Key Largo faces the expansive Florida Bay. You can launch your kayak from various points along the shoreline to explore this shallow and serene bay. It’s an ideal place for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.
Located on the north side of Key Largo, Buttonwood Sound is a calm and shallow body of water perfect for kayaking. Paddle through the clear waters and enjoy the views of the mangroves and the surrounding wildlife.
Card Sound Road Canals
On the north end of Key Largo, you’ll find a network of canals along Card Sound Road. These canals provide a peaceful environment for kayaking, and you can often spot manatees and various fish species.
This body of water on the northern side of Key Largo is known for its clear waters and beautiful views. Paddle along the coastline and enjoy the mangrove-lined shores and the occasional manatee encounter.
Throughout Key Largo, you’ll find numerous narrow channels and mangrove tunnels that are perfect for kayaking. These trails offer a peaceful and secluded kayaking experience.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
While primarily a hiking destination, this park also has kayaking opportunities. Paddle along the shoreline and observe the coastal plant life and wildlife.
When kayaking in Key Largo, be sure to follow local regulations and safety guidelines, wear appropriate safety gear, and take precautions for the weather and tides.
You can rent kayaks from many different companies or book a guided tours if you’re new to the area or kayaking in general. Locals can definitely provide guidance and make sure you see the perfect spots!
** Everglades National Park is also a great kayaking spot but is a little further away from Key Largo.
If you’re not a big fan of kayaking or being out on the ocean by yourself, taking a glass-bottom boat tour is another great way to see the beautiful wildlife out on the water.
Take A Sunset Cruise
Taking a sunset cruise in Key Largo is a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful evening views of the Florida Keys. There are several options for sunset cruises in Key Largo, and you can choose from various types of vessels, including sailboats, catamarans, and powerboats.
Popular Sunset Cruise Operators
Key Largo Princess: The Key Largo Princess offers a Sunset Cruise that departs from the Holiday Inn. This spacious glass-bottom boat allows you to view the marine life and the sunset simultaneously.
African Queen Sunset Cruise: You can take a memorable sunset cruise on the African Queen Canal Cruise, the original boat from the classic movie. Enjoy the sunset as you cruise along the waterways.
Sundiver Snorkel Tours: Sundiver Snorkel Tours offers a Sunset Cruise that includes complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks. You can enjoy the sunset from the comfort of their catamaran.
Islander Watersports: Islander Watersports offers sunset cruises that take you through the calm waters of the Florida Bay, providing an excellent opportunity to relax and enjoy the sunset.
Key Largo Sailing Adventures: If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, consider a private sunset sail with Key Largo Sailing Adventures. You can charter a sailboat for you and your group and enjoy a personalized sunset experience.
Key Largo Boat Tours: This operator offers a Sunset Cruise where you can watch the sun dip below the horizon from their comfortable boat. They often include refreshments and snacks.
Florida Keys Sailing: Florida Keys Sailing offers sunset sailing charters where you can enjoy the sunset in a tranquil setting on a sailboat.
Private Charters: Many charter companies in Key Largo offer private sunset charters. These can be a great option if you want a customized experience for a special occasion or a romantic evening.
Be sure to check with the specific cruise operators for availability, schedules, and any additional offerings they may have. Sunset cruises in Key Largo are a popular activity, so it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Whether you choose a catamaran, sailboat, or glass-bottom boat, watching the sunset over the water in Key Largo is a memorable experience.
See the dolphins during sunset… if you’re lucky!
Almost every time that I’ve been out on the water around sunset time, there are dolphins!! You can take a group boat ride through various companies that offer this.
The last time we took a small boat out of the Playa Largo Marriott. It was just us and a small family of 4. The captain went “dolphin speed” the whole time! We had a group of dolphins following us almost the whole time – it was pretty awesome!
Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
Key Largo is known for its proximity to some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the Florida Keys. You can see coral reefs in Key Largo through various activities, such as snorkeling and scuba diving.
Here are some of the best places to snorkel or scuba dive. And if you didn’t know, the Florida keys have some of the best reefs in the entire United States!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: This is one of the most famous places to explore coral reefs in Key Largo. It offers guided snorkeling and scuba diving tours to the underwater Christ of the Abyss statue, as well as other vibrant reef sites within the park.
The park’s diverse marine life and colorful coral formations make it a top destination for reef enthusiasts. This makes this national parks one of the best of the best!
Molasses Reef: Located within the boundaries of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Molasses Reef is known for its abundance of marine life and vibrant coral formations. It’s a popular site for both snorkeling and scuba diving, with depths ranging from shallow to deep.
Carysfort Reef: This reef is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and is known for its impressive coral formations and diverse marine species. It’s a great spot for both snorkeling and scuba diving, with depths suitable for various skill levels.
Grecian Rocks: Just off Key Largo, Grecian Rocks is another fantastic snorkeling and diving location. It features shallow coral gardens, making it an ideal spot for beginners and those who want to stay close to the surface.
Key Largo Dry Rocks: This reef is famous for the Christ of the Abyss statue, a submerged bronze statue of Christ located on the ocean floor. It’s a unique and memorable site for divers and snorkelers alike.
French Reef: French Reef is another popular diving and snorkeling location within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It offers diverse coral formations and marine life, making it a favorite among underwater enthusiasts.
Coffins Patch: Located offshore from Key Largo, Coffins Patch is known for its extensive coral gardens and clear waters. It’s a great place for snorkeling and observing various species of fish and corals.
When exploring coral reefs in Key Largo, consider booking guided tours or excursions with local dive shops and operators, especially if you’re new to snorkeling or scuba diving. They can provide equipment, guidance, and insight into the best spots to witness the vibrant coral reefs and marine ecosystems that make Key Largo a renowned destination for underwater exploration.
Listen To Live Music On The Water
Key Largo is known for its vibrant live music scene, and there are several places where you can enjoy live music while being right on the water. Here are some of the best restaurants that often feature live music in Key Largo.
Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill: This waterfront tiki bar and restaurant frequently hosts live music acts, including local bands and solo artists. Enjoy the music with a view of the marina.
Sundowners: Sundowners is a popular restaurant and bar with outdoor seating right on Florida Bay. They often have live music performances, and you can enjoy the sunset while listening to tunes.
Skippers Dockside Restaurant and Bar: Located on the water, Skippers Dockside offers live music on weekends. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the waterfront ambiance.
Senor Frijoles: This Mexican restaurant sometimes features live music, especially on weekends. It’s a fun spot to enjoy music, margaritas, and waterfront views.
Mariners Club: The Mariners Club often hosts live music events, including local bands and musicians. It’s a relaxing setting with a pool and waterfront views.
The Caribbean Club: This historic bar and restaurant, featured in the movie “Key Largo,” occasionally hosts live music. It’s a unique spot with a lot of history.
Pilot House Marina & Restaurant: You can find live music here on weekends. Enjoy the tunes on the outdoor deck overlooking the marina.
Bayside Grille and Sunset Bar: Located at the Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort, this restaurant often has live music, especially during weekends and special events.
Tiki Bar at Gilbert’s Resort: Gilbert’s Tiki Bar hosts live music on the weekends. It’s a lively spot with a large waterfront patio.
Snook’s Bayside Restaurant and Grand Tiki Bar: Snook’s frequently features live music, including local bands and acoustic acts. It’s a relaxed waterfront venue.
Keep in mind that live music schedules can vary, so it’s a good idea to check with the specific venues or their websites for the latest information on performances and events. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back acoustic set or a lively band, Key Largo offers a variety of options for enjoying live music by the water.
FAQs About Key Largo
Recap Of Key Largo, Florida
In the heart of the Florida Keys, Key Largo stands as a tropical paradise teeming with exciting experiences and natural beauty. From the underwater wonders of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to unforgettable encounters with dolphins, there’s no shortage of adventure here.
Visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant marine life through snorkeling and scuba diving or embark on peaceful kayaking journeys through the mangroves. For those seeking serenity on a hammock, sunset cruises and waterfront live music provide the perfect evening ambiance. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a wildlife lover, or simply in search of relaxation, Key Largo offers a diverse range of activities that make it a must-visit destination in the Florida Keys.