The Florida Keys & Dry Tortugas National Park

If you are planning a trip to Florida or live close by and want to explore your home state I can’t recommend the Keys and Dry Tortugas National Park enough.

We visited in October 2014 and spent 3 nights in Key West before driving back up to Orlando, stopping at Key Largo and The Everglades National Park.

We stayed at The Albury Court Hotel, which was a great little place.

The hotel had the Florida Keys charm and wasn’t too far from the water front and Duval Street.

The rooms were spacious, fitted with a good sized fridge which came in handy for our purchase of a whole Key Lime Pie from Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Pie Shoppe… (Yes we finished it) Our room also had a great little balcony.

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Our Key West Highlights included:

Eating the freshest seafood at Half Shell Raw Bar, Key West and trying oysters on the half shell for the first time.

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Wandering down past the harbour and Duval Street at night, taking in the bars, nightlife and choosing a tasty place to eat. We ended up at Grand Cafe, Key West eating great pasta on the deck.

Visiting the USA’s Southernmost point and Mile 0.

Stumbling on a Caribbean street food festival on a side street and trying out some new dishes.

Visiting the Lilly Pulitzer corperate store on Front Street – I got my Chin Chin Elsa in the sale here, I also (stupidly) left the Hot Spot Palmetto behind, only to spend years tracking it down on BST!

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The best bit of our time in Key West was our trip on The Yankee Freedom Dry Tortugas Ferry.

The Dry Tortugas National Park sits 70 miles off of Key West and is only accessible by boat. The boat trip to and from the takes around 2 hours, but you can catch a great tan on the journey!

Once you arrive you can spend your time exploring historical Fort Jefferson, with the option of a guided tour, take a hike around the island or explore the beautifully clear waters with complimentary snorkeling equipment. Breakfast and lunch is also included on the boat.

We got some amazing panoramic shots of the fort and the national park.

The time of year we chose to visit meant there were TONNES of jellyfish in the ocean! We had to be really careful when we were snorkelling and even just paddling in the shallows- Looking back I can’t believe I swam out as deep as I did without getting stung!

I would recommend using a GoPro to get underwater shots and wide lens photos of the fort- The water is crystal clear!

Visiting The Dry Tortugas is definitely a very unique experience and they can only be reached by Key West – If you find yourself down there 100% take the boat tour and check it out!

After our stay on Key West we spent a night on Key Largo at The Holiday Inn, Key Largo and visited John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. We hired Kayaks and explored theĀ  park’s 50 miles of natural mangrove wilderness trails. The boats were easy to rent (just turn up) and you could pay by the hour, half day or full day. Navigating is not my strong point and I must admit I did freak out a bit trying to steer the kayak!

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There isn’t too much else to do on Key Largo, it is much more laid back than Key West, so we spent the rest of our time by the pool.

On the drive back up to Orlando we also stopped at The Everglades National Park which is beautiful. We didn’t stay long but they are definitely worth looking at – watch out for the gators!

Have you ever been to the Florida Keys? What were your highlights- I would love to know! Leave a comment below.

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