Travel Guest Post

Florida Keys Weddings

If you’re getting married, you should know that Florida Keys weddings are among the most beautiful ways to celebrate your event. Getting married on the beach or under a palm tree as the sun sets behind you on the horizon are only two of the reasons why Florida Keys weddings are the most romantic and gorgeous ways to tie the knot.

Saying “I do” is a special event for a couple. How they say the words and celebrate the day can be the couple’s own creative expression of their hopes and dreams for a wonderful life together. If a casual, tropical background to this expression fits your personality and your outlook on life, you might be considering Florida Keys weddings. The Keys are close enough to mainland United States that airfare and arrangements won’t break your budget or the budget of your family and guests who attend the wedding. You can have a lovely tropical wedding without spending every last dime you’ve saved. That’s the reason why so many couples have chosen Florida Keys weddings for the big day.

The wedding world in the Florida Keys is an interwoven network of caterers, wedding planners, hair stylists, florists and boutiques. They know the couple relies on good service and competent professionals to help them prepare for their wedding from afar. Some couples will visit the Florida Keys before the wedding to check out different spots for the event, or to interview various wedding planners. Others will do everything from their home outside the Keys. There are professionals throughout the Keys, from Key Largo to Key West, who can arrange everything for a wedding, without the couple having to be there in person before the actual ceremony. The process has been streamlined for a hassle-free wedding where the couple can help plan every step, or they can choose to just show up! Again, a wedding is a personal expression of a couple’s love and committment to each other and everyone is different. Some will plan every detail, and others want it to be as easy as possible and they don’t sweat the details. They leave it all up to the wedding planner and his or her team.

Florida Keys weddingsSome of the options you have to choose from include centering your event around the facilities of a full-service resort. The couple and guests stay at the same resort, the ceremony and reception are on the grounds of the resort, and catering is through the dining facilities of the resort as well. Most resorts have a wedding planner they work with, so call a resort you’re interested in and ask if they can give you the contact info for their wedding planner. Tell them you’re planning a wedding and they should know exactly where to direct you.

Another option for Florida Keys weddings is to have your wedding on the beach, then the reception through yoru hotel. Not all Florida Keys hotels and resorts have their own private beach so transportation will come into play unless your accommodations are within walking distance to the beach. In Key West, there are a number of vacation rental condos and hotels across the street from the beach so there wouldn’t be as much need for transportation. Again, ask your wedding planner and almost anything can be arranged. The Florida Keys are typified by a casual tropcial lifestyle and Florida Keys weddings are no different. You dream it, and somebody will make it happen. No fuss, no worry!

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is part of a national system of protected natural resources from the Keys to the Canadian border. The living coral reef runs parallel to the entire 126 mile chainn of islands known as the Florida Keys. It’s a unique ecosystem and the only on in North America, making it one of The U.S.’s great treasures. Known as America’s Caribbean, the living coral reef extends from the coast off Miami all the way to the Dry Tortugas. The sanctuary protects wildlife, the coral reef, and also important historical shipwrecks on the ocean floor. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuarycover 2,800 square nautical miles and goes from Key Biscayne to the Dry Tortugas. It protects one of the most diverse collection of species in North, both plants and animals. It’s the third largest coral reef in the world, in fact. Only the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the reef off Belize are larger. It lies under ten miles from short in the Keys, making it very accessible for divers, snorkelers, anglers and anyone else on the water.

The sanctuary was created in 1990 and covers over 3668 square miles. The Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Why Was the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Created?

Within the borders of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary visitors will find a spectacular variety of coral, fish, fields of seagrass, forests of mangrove islands, an entire ecosystem waiting to be discovered. The Sanctuary protects all the species within, The marine ecosystem is fragile, and everyone works together to protect the wildlife and plants in these waters. Healthy coral benefits everyone! The coral reefs also support a vital commercial fishing industry and a booming tourism trade. Visitors who come to the Florida Keys usually take a boat trip out to the reef or beyond for snorkeling, diving, fishing, or just dinner and a sunset.

What Does a Sanctuary Mean?

Visitors to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary should respect the rules set in place. This includes not removing any coral and not operating a boat in a way that would strike coral or seagrass. Snorkelers and divers must display a Diver Down flag, which is red with a white stripe through it. Boaters must stay at least 100 feet from that flag, or operate at idle/no wake speed.

How do I Get to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary?

If you travel to the Florida Keys and go out on the water, you’re in the Marine Sanctuary. It surrounds all the islands of the Florida Keys, right up to the shoreline.

Cheap Florida Keys Vacation

A Cheap Florida Keys Vacation is possible! Coming to the Florida Keys on vacation can be an expensive proposition, but if you are willing to sacrifice a little you can save some money. When I first came to the Keys I was in college, and frankly, I had very little money, but as soon as I got here and was out on the water for a day, I totally fell in love with it and ended up coming here 3 times in one winter. All in all my 3 trips here probably cost less than most people’s one trip. Although I did without many luxuries that other people wouldn’t do without, I still had a great time and ended up having a cheap Florida Keys Vacation.


Cheap Florida Keys Camping

One way you can save money is to stay in campgrounds. There are campgrounds all over the Keys, there are even campgrounds on Stock Island right by Key West. The campgrounds are not as cheap as they are other places but they are substantially cheaper than even the cheap Florida Keys hotel rooms.

Cheap Florida Keys Hotels

If you aren’t into camping, you can often find better deals on hotels from small mom and pop places, they might not be as fancy as the Hyatt or Westin, but hey if you are like me you want be out doing and seeing stuff, not hanging at the hotel. You can also find good deals on vacation rentals by owner, this can really save you money if you come with a few people. You can often rent a house or condo for the same or less than a hotel and you get a kitchen and cook your meals.

Cheap Key West Vacation

If you are coming to Key West, you don’t really need a car. This is another way you can save money and manage to have a cheap Florida Keys Vacation. You can either fly directly here, or fly to Miami and rent a car for a day to drive there and then drop it off. You can pretty much get by in Key West without a car – a lot of the residents do, and also cars can be a hassle in Key West. Parking usually requires payment, the streets are narrow and confusing if you don’t know your way around. You can pretty much get to everything in Key West by bike, or if necessary a taxi.

Cheap Things to do in the Florida Keys

There are many cheap free things to do and see in the Keys and Key West. Most beaches, parks and historic sites are free to cheap. Although fishing and snorkeling are about 100 times better from a boat, you can fish and snorkel from the shore.

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Florida Keys Weather

Yes, We Do Have Seasons!

Florida Keys weather is known to be beautiful all year, with copious amounts of sunshine just about every day. Folks from northern states know they can book a trip to the Florida Keys in January and it’ll be pretty much as warm as a summer day back home. With year-round sunshine, how does Florida Keys weather get seasons, you ask? How do you get a variation on sunshine? The Florida Keys have moderate temperatures much of the year, with tropical breezes cooling us down in summertime. We’re cooler than Miami because we are islands and the breezes we catch, along with the lesser degree of congestion, cars, and pavement, makes us a summertime destination for people from Miami seeking relief from the city heat. With that said, let’s remember that we are still a sub-tropical climate, and it does get hot in summer. Temperatures are in the mid-80s and it’s a little humid June through September.


Winter weather starts around the end of November and continues right on through March. Temperatures get down to the mid-60s at night, and around 70 F during the day. For Florida Keys weather, this is the coolest season. Winter means clear blue skies, no rain, and windy days, too. Not usually the best snorkel weather, but winter is our tourist season, and tourists don’t seem to mind. Snorkel boats usually include a wetsuit in the package anyway, and wetsuits work really well for keeping you warm in the water. When it’s only in the 60s, some locals get carried away and actually wear puffy winter jackets. Compared to up North, most visitors think the winter weather here is warm and perfect.


Spring is short, since the cooler winter weather sometimes seems to end abruptly and bam, it’s hot and humid. But there is a Spring season, usually in April and May, when it’s starting to warm up and you give up wearing jeans and long sleeve tops that you get to wear in winter. Spring means Tarpon arrive, while seasonal workers on Duval Street head for more northern tourist towns, where the high season is just getting warmed up. Spring also means there’s an exodus of RVs, and the campgrounds empty out. Folks from Michigan, Idaho, Wisconsin, and other frigid wintery northern climes go back home and enjoy the beautiful weather up there. While the Florida Keys start to lose these segments of the population, the temporary, seasonal people, new ones come to take their place. Once School is out, Floridians who don’t live in here wheel out the boat & trailor, load up the truck, and head for the Florida Keys. Weekends are full of people from Miami and other parts of Florida, while weekdays are a little quieter.


Summer sees a continuation of families from Florida arriving for the weekend from Miami to enjoy the relatively cooler Florida Keys weather, or angler buddies taking off from work and zipping down to the Keys. Or partiers heading for Key West for a total blowout weekend before they go back to work on Monday. Or groups of women friends down for a weekend of bad fun on Duval Street. June 1 is the official start of the hurricane season, which runs through November 30. Hurricanes seem to really start hitting in August and September, which is the time of the year when the Florida Keys are the most empty, not coincidentally of course! If local business owners take an annual vacation or go away for an extended period of time, this is when they most commonly go. If a business is closed at all during the year, August or September is when you’ll see it happen.


Fall in the Florida Keys is the one season abour which you could debate the existence. It’s pretty hot right through mid October, and then it cools off a bit, but we can’t really say that too much different happens in Fall, weather-wise. Since the intense part of Hurricane Season straddles the end of Summer and beginning of Fall, perhaps we should have Hurricane Season then right into Winter instead of Fall.

Florida keys Events

Florida Keys events occur all year long because the Florida Keys have beautiful weather all year long! Visitors come year-round for the weather, the water sports, the resorts, the restaurants and bars, the coral reef, and much more. They also come for the annual events, which occur throughout the Florida Keys, in all shapes and sizes, for everyone. Some of the events in the Keys are famous, such as Fantasy Fest, and others are more local affairs, and less known, such as the annual Chili Cookoff in Key Largo. Some people plan their vacations around Florida Keys events, such as the Annual Poker Run, which is popular with motorcyclists. Other events center on fishing, so avid anglers will visit the keys during tournaments like the Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Tournament or dozens and dozens of other fishing tournaments throughout the year in the Keys. Here’s a smattering of Florida Keys events, both large and small.

Events in the Florida Keys

Upper Keys Events

Island Sun Splash is held every June, and features a week of outdoor fun in the sun and on the water. It’s sponsored by local merchants who offer discounts at their businesses for participants who buy a wristband. Activities include daily dives including night dives, to all the major wrecks around Key Largo; fishing clinics for adults and kids, scuba clinics and talks, museum open houses, sailing workshops, fish ID workshops, and all sorts of other dive and snorkel activities. Look for discounts on everything from dining to lodging to parasailing in Key Largo. Lots of the activities center around the Holiday Inn Key Largo, which is usually the host resort for Island Sun Splash.

Around the end of June, look for Key Largo’s Ladies Dolphin Tournament, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Key Largo.

In Islamorada, look for the Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament, where the proceeds go to children’s’ charities. Also look for the Women’s World Invitational Fly Championship Tarpon Series in Islamorada. Despite the name, it’s also open to men.

July brings all sorts of festive activities, beginning with the Fourth of July Fireworks celebration. Fourth of July is one of the most popular Florida Keys events, and people come from Miami and other parts of Southern Florida to celebrate with us. It’s sponsored by the Upper Keys Merchants Association. There’s also a parade in Key Largo on Fourth of July, sponsored by The Reporter.

In November Key Largo hosts the Humphrey Bogart Festival. You can visit the African Queen any time of the year at the Holiday Inn Key Largo. It’s on display there, and a sign says you can also take it out for a charter ride. November also brings the annual Conch Regatta Cardboard Boat Races, as part of the Island Jubilee. The festival features a BBQ Championship Cookoff, the boat races, and vendors and live music. The BBQ contest draws cooks from all over the country. The whole weekend is a family affair, held at Harry Harris Park in Tavernier (the next town after Key Largo).

December in Key Largo brings the Christmas Boat Parade, as well as lots of other holiday-oriented activities and events.

Middle Keys Events

June means the Father’s Day Dolphin Derby in Marathon, a favorite event each year for anglers and their families. If you like Dolphin fishing, June also welcomes the Burdines Waterfront Dolphin and Blackfin Tuna Tournament. As far as fishing tournaments go, Marathon has lots of the them. In August, there’s the Marathon Silver Salute Corporate Challenge Tournament Series. In September, there’s the Marathon International Bonefish Tournament. Check out Marathon in December for the annual Boot Key Harbor Boat Parade.

Lower Keys Events

Start out the annual calendar in July for the Fourth of July Celebration then come back a few weeks later for the Annual Hemingway Days celebration featuring the famous look-alike contest.

June is the month for the Swordfish Event of the Key West Fishing Tournament Series, then more fishing fun with the Conch Republic Ladies Dolphin Tournament, the Mercury/IGFA Junior Angler World Championship Tournament, and finally the Key West Gator Club Dolphin Derby. Lower Keys also has the Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament. All this in June, plus the Tropical Fruit Fiesta! The biggest Florida Keys event, by far, is definitely Fantasy Fest, which is a week-long celebration leading up to Halloween, full of parties, parades, costumes, body painting, and freaky fun. Book hotels early, since rooms all over the island fill up fast.

Florida Keys Map

Check out our Florida Keys map of the islands, coming soon. Getting around the Keys is easy, but we use a distinctive navigation system here. Locations are designated by Mile Markers. From Key West at Mile Marker 0 to Key Largo at Mile Marker 110, you can find anything using the MM system, especially if you have a Florida Keys map. The Overseas Highway is marked up and down the Keys, with little green Mile Marker signs so you always know where you are and how many miles to go before you hit your destination.

The Florida Keys are a string of islands stretching out 120 miles into the waters. North of the Florida Keys is the Gulf of Mexico. To the south, the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are mainly narrow and small. In most parts of the Keys, the Overseas Highway is the only road. However, in some areas such as Big Pine Key, Key West and Marathon, the actual land mass of the island is larger. Here, there are side streets so a Florida Keys map can be helpful. Many of the best things in the Florida Keys are found off the beaten track and if you’re driving through, a map will certainly help you with exploration and discovery.

A Florida Keys map that extends north and south to show the ocean and bay side will also give visitors a sense of where certain popular dive sites and fishing areas can be found. You will see the uninhabited tiny keys that dot the water north of the Keys, making up what’s called the back country. In other parts of the United States, the term back country means a remote area where you won’t find many other people or signs of development. On a Florida Keys map, back country is the miles and miles of shallow waters dotted with mangrove islands that are found on the bay side. This is where flats fishermen run their special shallow water boats hunting back country fish like permit, tarpon, and bonefish.

If your Florida Keys map extends far enough west, you’ll get an idea of how far away the Dry Tortugas really are. Look for the Marquesas Keys on your map too. This is great fishing and not as far out as the Dry Tortugas. Another spot, found on the way to the Marquesas and the Dry Tortugas, is Boca Grande Key, a wonderful sandbar you can pull up to and explore. Look all up and down the ocean side on your map from Key West to Key Largo and see how close the coral reef is. Keys residents are lucky to live so close to a natural treasure like a living coral reef, which makes the Florida Keys special and unique in North America.

Please enjoy our Florida Keys map and have a great vacation in America’s Caribbean!

Getting to the Keys

A Florida Keys travel guide will help you get to the Keys and get around easily while on vacation. If you are planning a vacation to the Florida Keys, you already know about a lot of the fun and exciting things to do and see in this lovely chain of islands. You might, however, need a little help with the details of getting here, or Florida Keys travel, and where to stay once you get here. There are several different ways of arriving in the Florida Keys and numerous types of accommodation choices as well.

Getting to the Florida Keys

You can fly into a major international airport such as Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) or Miami International Airport (MIA). These airports are both within driving distance to the Keys. They are both very large airports so airfare will be cheaper than flying into Key West International Airport or Marathon Airport. Sometimes flights into West Palm Beach airport are cheaper, too, depending on where you fly in from. Keep in mind that West Palm Beach is two hours driving from the start of the Florida Keys, whereas Fort Lauderdale will be about an hour, and Miami half an hour. (These times are without any delays in traffic, which happen oftenin Southern Florida). Flying into Key West will tack on about $80 to your airfare, but it’s worth it for some who are staying in Key West, who don’t like to drive, or who have already driven the Overseas Highway through the FLorida Keys. This drive, by the way, is one of the most picturesque drives in the United States, and particularly popular via motorcycle or in a convertible with the top down! Flying into Key West means you won’t have to rent a car, so your extra money spent on the airfare will be saved by not spending on a car rental. Marathon Airport has flights too, but much less frequently than Key West airport.

Driving, once you fly into an airport, will be frustrating until you reach the Overseas Highway, which is what they call US 1 once you hit the Florida Keys. Southern FLorida is very congested, so sit back and stay calm, and plan for lots of extra time. Even the Overseas Highway can get congested on a Friday night, but the further you go west, the more the traffic thins out. By the time you cross the Seven Mile Bridge out of Marathon heading for Key West, there are noticable fewer cars on the road.

If you fly into Miami, you do have the option of taking a ferry service from Miami to Key West. It leaeves every morning and takes about four hours to reach Key West. No car rental required! This is perhaps one of the more pleasant ways to go about your Florida Keys travel. The service leaves Key West every afternoon at 5 or 5:30, heading back to Miami. It’s a fun way to go, and the ride is spectacular back to Miami because you’ll catch a splendid sunset as you leave Key West.

Greyhound buses leave Miami every day and travel throughout the Keys, all the way to Key West. Service is limited, with few trips, but there is daily service. If you arrive at FLL or MIA airports, there’s the Keys Shuttle. This is a minivan serivce for passengers who don’t want to drive. The shuttle service leaves several times a day from both airports and stops all through the Keys.


The Florida Keys are famous for chic resorts with all-inclusive services such as on-site charter fishing guides, private beaches, pools and dining. You can also find older motels along the Overseas Highway, which offer lower rates but sometimes it’s the luck of the draw on quality. In Key West your lodging choices multiply: Guest houses, chain hotels, and inns can be found everywhere in the small city, and where you stay is up to your budget and taste. For more information, go here.

Florida Keys Shopping

Got some time for a little Florida Keys shopping while on vacation? Make the most of your time and preview what we have to offer here on our visitors’ mini guide to shopping in the Florida Keys. Of course we have the obvious: lots and lots of tourist treaures for folks back home. Some are beautiful, and others are just whimsical, but you’ll definitely have fun shopping for souvenirs here in the Keys. In the Upper Keys it’s hard to miss The Shell Man, whose billboards promise all kinds of chintzy items, but in actuality the store sells a wide range of beautiful items. Florida Keys shopping runs the gamut from typical t-shirt shops to exquisite boutiques full of wonderful treasures.

Florida Keys shopping

Specialty shops are everywhere in the Florida Keys as well. There’s a hammock shop, a kite shop, a flip-flop boutique, a pepper store, and of course, many many key lime shops! In Key West you have Key West Aloe which has grown a wide following in people who want bath and beauty products with aloe in them. Right across the street from the aloe shop is Key West Fabrics, another home-grown unique shop. They have lots of island prints and resort clothing for sale, plus a sale rack in the back that’s lots of fun.

Fish & tackle shops are everywhere, as you might expect. The granddaddy of them all is located in Islamorada, World Wide Sportsman. This is one of the best places on all the islands for Florida Keys shopping. This store is an attraction itself, and you could easily spend more than an hour in here. There’s a reproduction of Ernest Hemingway’s wooden fishing boat, Pilar, a glass elevator carrying customers up to the second floor where you’ll find Zane Grey Lounge and an art gallery. On the ground floor they have a giant aquarium with popular flats and reef fish swimming around. The store is beautiful, with artistic touches like brass doorknobs shaped like mermaids, and replicas of fish on the walls so you can practice your fish identification. On top of all this, prices aren’t even all that bad.

In Key West, there main drag for tourists is Duval Street. There are more stores packed in to this small area than there are in the total rest of the Florida Keys. While one end of Duval, closer to the cruise ship point of disembarkation, is full of lighthearted and tacky stores that folks find to be lots of fun, the further you go away from this end, the more umique and beautiful the shops get. There are also lots and lots of art galleries on Duval, as well. There’s a whole store dedicated to everything Cuban. Check out the t-shirt shop that dyes its shirts in natural ingredients such as cocoa. Or try the new flip-flop boutique that sells nothing but thong sandals, promising to be comfortable and stylish. Shopping on Duval Street is lots and lots of fun.

Florida Keys Area Info

The Florida Keys are a string of islands one hundred and ten miles long, beginning with Key Largo at Mile Marker 110 and down to Key West at Mile Marker 0. There are hundreds of keys, or islands, in the chain. Some are inhabited and others are barely inhabited, while others are remote and totally wild. Some are large, like Big Pine Key, and some are so tiny you hardly notice them at all as you drive over the Overseas Highway, or US 1. Some of the keys are dominated by resorts that own the whole island, or most of it. Take Duck Key, for example, which is pretty much owned by Hawk’s Cay resort. The entrance to the island is surrounded by a large gateway, with the words Hawk’s Cay written in stone. Some Florida Keys have much of their land protected for wildlife refuges, such as Big Pine. Big Pine Key is home to Key Deer, which are protected and who live in a fenced-off area to keep them safe from the highway. The most populated Key is Key West, which is the center of tourism, business, and culture for the Florida Keys. Cruise ships come into Key West, the flagship campus of Florida Keys Community Collegeis located in Key West, and it has the largest population of all the Keys townships. Key West really includes Stock Island, which is a separate island from Key West but for all intents and purposes is part of the same community and city.

If you happen to be driving through the Florida Keys to your destination in the middle or lower keys, you’ll get to see some of the ways in which the various Keys differ. You will notice the difference right away between Key Largo and Islamorada, with the former catering to drive-by tourism and commercial interests. Islamorada caters almost strictly to anglers, since it’s known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World. Here’s a list of most of the Keys that make up the Florida Keys, just to give you an idea of the number of actual islands you’ll be driving over as you make your way south and west, towards paradise.

Keys in the Florida Keys

  • Key Largo
  • Plantation Key
  • Teatable Key
  • Upper Matecombe Key
  • Indian Key
  • Lower Matecombe Key
  • Craig Key
  • Fiesta Key
  • Long Key
  • Conch Key
  • Duck Key
  • Grassy Key
  • Long Key
  • Knight Key
  • Little Duck Key
  • Ohio Key
  • Big Torch Key
  • Middle Torch Key
  • Little Torch Key
  • Summerland Key
  • Bahia Honda Key
  • Cudjoe Key
  • Sugarloaf Key
  • Lower Sugarloaf Key
  • Key West
  • Saddle Bunch Keys
  • Big Coppitt Key
  • East Rockland Key
  • Windley Key
  • Vaca Key
  • Ramrod Key
  • Stock Island
  • No Name Key
  • Big Pine Key
  • Park Key
  • Harris Key
  • Rockland Key
  • Boca Chica Key
  • Raccoon Key
  • Geiger Key
  • Garden Key
  • Shark Key
  • Fat Deer Key
  • Cross Key
  • Tingler
  • Missouri Key
  • Valhalla
  • Little Crawl Key
  • Crawl Key
  • Center
  • Plantation
  • Yacht Club
  • Harbor
  • Tom Harbor
  • Walkers/Little Con
  • Tavernier Key
  • Fleming Key
  • Dredgers Key
  • Boot Key
  • Marquesas
  • Snapper Point
  • Sunset Cay
  • Channel Cay
  • Ocean Reef
  • Largo Sound
  • Ensenada Isle
  • Flamingo Isle
  • Spanish Harbor
  • Coco Plum
  • Key Colony Beach
  • Doctors Point
  • Bahia Shores
  • Bay Point
  • Pigeon
  • Valois
  • Howell Key
  • Loggerhead Key