Host Chad Crawford takes you from Key Largo to Key West to show you the best of the Florida Keys — and why the “Conch Republic” has a rhythm all its own. See marine life up close and personal, build your fly fishing skills, go lobstering and dive on a shipwreck — all within the span of a little over 100 miles.
For an undersea petting zoo venture, head to Key Largo and check out Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures, home of the world-famous Creature Feature. Captain Slate has been entertaining divers with his sea “pets” for more than 30 years. These nurtured and well-cared-for native animals have appeared more than 60 times on television shows and stations such as Discovery, Animal Planet, 60 Minutes and even Ripley’s Believe It or Not. After years of visiting and feeding these creatures from his own mouth, Captain Slate has established a rapport with these animals, making it safe for visitors to tag along. Some of the creatures you may encounter include sharks, barracudas and tropical fish. The dive is only about 40 feet down so it is perfect for all levels of skill in diving. The Creature Feature dive is done every Friday and Sunday morning while being filmed by Emmy award-winning videographer Frazier Nivens. The video of your dive is available for purchase after your excursion and includes your name in the titles, the Creature Feature in its entirety and an additional hour of footage containing reefs, wrecks and dolphins familiar to the Florida Keys.
If you prefer to stay above water, then the Everglades National Park may be more your speed. The smooth waters of the Everglades make it a great spot you to experience Florida fly fishing. For beginners, getting the hang of this sport can take time, but the excitement behind catching a fish on the fly makes it all worthwhile.
Lobstering in the Florida Keys is an age-old Florida tradition and Islamorada is your place to give it a shot. From August 6 through March 31 you can test your luck and plunge to the ocean floor in search of the delectable Florida spiny lobster. The warm waters that are easily accessible to snorkelers make Islamorada one of the premier places to hunt lobster. Make sure to come prepared with a Florida saltwater fishing license, a crawfish stamp, and all of the necessary gear for your lobstering excursion. With some patience, luck and persistence, this is bound to be one of the most unique experiences that the Florida Keys have to offer.
The final stop on the journey is America’s southernmost city, Key West. Beneath the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys lies the Shipwreck Heritage Trail — a series of retired maritime vessels that have been sunk and merged with reefs to create a haven for 55 varieties of coral and nearly 500 species of fish. In May of 2009 the ex-military missile-tracking ship known as the USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was sunk off the coast of Key West, making it the second-largest artificial reef in the world. The top of the ship is only 45 feet below the surface, making this wreck dive a possibility for all divers.
The islands that make up the Florida Keys are referred to by locals as the Conch Republic. This unique name was given to differentiate the islands from mainland Florida, as well as to honor the tropical atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle that can be found only in the islands. Come experience all the Florida Keys have to offer, from Key Largo to Key West.
*check out Visitflorida.com to read even more that the Keys have to offer.
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