The Florida Beaches Royalty Tour – November 2013

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Now that we have no immediate family members living near us anymore, the Queen and I are all alone here in South Florida. This makes holidays a little tough to plan and execute. So rather than brave the bitter cold like we did two weeks ago in New York, we decided to kill two birds with one stone – Thanksgiving and the November installment of the FBRT – at the same time. So we celebrated both in the beautiful village of Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

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After a night in Miami involving Dave and Buster’s, Sir Pizza and hot Krispy Kreme donuts at 10pm (you already know about our sordid relationship with donuts), we made our way an hour and a half South to the Keys.

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Islamorada is made up of five islands in the Keys (Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key) and is world famous for sport fishing, calling itself the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. You realize that as soon as you enter the village, where there are bait shops, fishing shops and snorkel shops on both sides of the road from Tavernier all the way down to Lower Matecumbe Key.

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Let me make this very clear – unless you are planning on getting in the water – that beautiful, clear turquoise water – you shouldn’t make the trip to Islamorada. It’s all about the water there. I can’t emphasize enough at how unbelievable it is. Had it been a bit warmer, wild horses couldn’t have pulled me from it.

There are many places to stop off along the way. I recommend you do so when you visit. Pull over and get out of your car. Dip your feet in the water.

There are three key beaches in Islamorada. Founder’s Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the tiny but amazing Anne’s Beach. We chose Anne’s.

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Anne’s is small and quaint with clear, relatively shallow water. Parking is free. It’s got a slew of rocks as you enter the water, but soon turns into a soft, mushy clay/sand mix. At the main entrance where we stopped, there is a place to set up, but it’s only about 50 yards long. If you’re planning on spending the day at Anne’s, bring your snorkel because I guarantee you’ll be at it all day. As a snorkeler, this is Paradise. Unfortunately, it was too cold out so we only got in about knee high.

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We only spent a short amount of time there, but came away with a ton of goodies. Out of the four or five true tulips we found, only one was empty.

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We found Dove Shells, Florida Worms, Pitted Murexes, juvie Cones and a handful of Baby’s Ears.

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I also found the broken tip of a juvenile Queen Conch as well as a handful of American Star Shells. I know if I had the chance to really get out deep, the things we could have found would be jaw dropping. We will be back to Anne’s when the water warms up. I can’t wait.

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Unfortunately, many had little guys in them so we put them back. Lots of marine life there at Anne’s, so be careful what you pick up and choose to take home with you.

Along with the wonderfully clear water, snorkeling and fishing in Islamorada, two places stand out as “must visit” attractions.

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One is the Theater of the Sea Marine Mammal Park at Mile Marker 84.

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 If you like Dolphins swimming alongside you, Sea Lions within reaching distance and up close and personal interaction with Sea Turtles and Stingrays, this is definitely a place to visit.

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It’s $29.95 for General Admission and worth every penny.

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The general admission show takes you on a lagoon ride, where dolphins Toby and Sherman swim alongside and inside the open bottomed boat. From there, it’s onto a meet and greet with Sea Turtles,

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a Parrot show,

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a Dolphin show

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and a Sea Lion show with Wilbur the Sea Lion.

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They also offer personalized swims and snorkels with the Dolphins, Rays, Sea Lions and Sea Turtles – and sharks too! Those are a bit pricey (between $65 and $185), but certainly worth it for the experience. If you have children, this is the place to take them.

The Second must stop is of course, Robbie’s of Islamorada. We stopped here before on our way back from Key West in August.

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At Robbie’s, you sit marina side and enjoy their fine food at the Hungry Tarpon and enjoy the view. Afterwards, you can take a walk around the open air shops that offer Marine wares and from there, a personal one on one hand feeding of the equally hungry Tarpon that gather at the dock.

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We finished off our wonderful trip with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at Guy Harvey’s Outpost inside the Islander Resort where we talked about how much fun we’d had over the previous couple of days and were truly thankful for what we had experienced.

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So if you’re contemplating about visiting Islamorada, don’t think too long. So much to do. So much to see. So much to experience. If we ever came into a cash windfall, Islamorada would easily be our second home.

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13 thoughts on “The Florida Beaches Royalty Tour – November 2013

  1. As a child, my dad would take me to Bahia Honda State Park or Sanibel for my beach fix. As an adult, I usually speed through Islamorada on my way through the Keys. I have always felt it was too touristy to stop along the way. After reading your blog, I think I may need to slow down and smell the roses. Thanks for the article.

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