Road trips are a great American classic. There’s just something about having the radio on and volume up, windows down, and pedal to the metal that invokes an element of mystery and excitement unlike any other way to travel. Follow our ambassador Amanda (@Mermanda_) on a mermaid style road trip down the Florida keys where she uncovers and discovers sunken treasures in her own backyard.
The MI OLA girls guide to a Florida Keys Road Trip
The Florida Keys are an archipelagic collection of 43 islands connected by a 113 mile, 42 bridge leap frog roadway known as the Overseas Highway.
On this journey we’re starting at the top, mile marker (MM) 102.5 Key Largo, John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park. The first underwater park in the United States and home to Christ of the Abyss, the underwater Jesus statue. While most of the park is underwater, the coral rock beaches are a truly keysie spot for ocean side meditations, a yoga class inspired by the sea, and pirate style exploring through the mangroves. If you stay long enough you’ll probably catch a glimpse of a few marine mammals, if not, cruise on down to our next stop.
Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, MM 84.5, is home to rescued sea turtles, sea sions, and dolphins turned educators. The trainers and residents of Theater of the Sea are eager to tell you all about proper use, disposal of and alternatives to plastics, as well as what fish to and not to eat right now. There are always new, innovative ways we can keep our oceans healthy, especially the Marine Sanctuary that is the Florida Keys.
Also in Islamorada is an eclectic little must see known simply as “Robbie’s.” At MM 77.5 bayside you can grab lunch, check out some local art, and you can …wait for it… HAND FEED wild, 200 pound, 6 foot long, giant scale-y Megalops sea monster’s, commonly known as Tarpon. Yep, adrenaline is a go and you’re gonna need a MI OLA suit for this one!
While we’re on the subject of “Hand Feeding Things Your Mother Doesn’t Want You Anywhere Near,” head south 25 miles and you will find Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. A fully interactive aquarium where you can feed, by hand, everything from sharks and stingrays to turtles and rainbow fish.
For more adrenaline adventures and action sports check out Keys Cable. They have a full menu of board sports for which you’re gonna want your MI OLA. Most of their offerings can be done on site in their 5 acre lagoon; read: wake boarding, paddle boarding, SUP yoga. If the winds are right they can take you and teach you to kite board.
Also located in Marathon, Florida, affectionately known as “the Heart of the Keys” is Sol Shine Yoga at MM 50.5. This your yoga studio for hot, private, aerial, yin, and even full moon beach yoga.
Check out Amanda’s #GetOutThere Guide to Marathon, FL.
Keep heading south over the Seven Mile Bridge, through Keys with crazy names like Cudjoe, Sugarloaf, and Shark, another 50 miles or so and you will reach MM 0; Key West – the southern most point in the United States where you’re closer to Cuba than to a Wal-Mart, we like it like that.
Key West is a world of it’s own. There is so much to see and do; a stroll though the butterfly sanctuary, wreck and reef diving until your heart’s content, parasailing, or bar crawling in the footsteps of some of the great paradise dreamers like Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney, and Ernest Hemingway. Of course, you could also spend days, or years, relaxing on the beach sipping rum runners, margaritas, and Miami vices.
The only downside to this MI OLA girls dream is the limitation on where to stay. Camping is hard to come by, hotels can be pricy, and Air BnB’s aren’t always allowed. Check out the hostel in Key West or Gulf View Resort on Grassy Key as your home base for this once in a lifetime, passport not required, road trip.