Discover 33 Magical Facts about the Florida Keys – From Ernest Hemingway to Enchanting Beaches

Did you know that the Florida Keys are an archipelago of islands off the southern tip of the US state of Florida? Here are 33 awe-inspiring facts about this beautiful place, that will leave you wanting to visit!

  1. The Florida Keys are a mesmerizing chain of islands that stretch from the southern tip of the mainland of Florida to Dry Tortugas, which is the last inhabited island.

  2. Key Largo is the largest and longest of these islands, measuring at 30 miles (48 km) long and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide. On the other hand, Pretty Joe Rock, a single-residentry island located near Marathon, is the smallest of the Keys.

  3. If you are in Key West, you would be closer to Cuba than to Miami! Cuba is located just 90 miles (145 km) away from Key West, while Miami is 150 miles (241 km) away. This explains why the Keys have been heavily influenced by Cuban culture.

  4. The islands of the Florida Keys can be divided into four groups, depending on their location – Upper Keys (near Miami), Middle Keys (between Pigeon Key and Grassy Key), Lower Keys (closest to Key West), and Outer Keys, which are islets located farther away from the inhabited islands.

  5. Even though Key West is the most well-known island in the Florida Keys, it is not the westernmost island. The Florida Keys actually stretch for another 70 miles (113 km) west to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, home to a number of uninhabited islands and Fort Jefferson.

  6. 42 bridges connect the Florida Keys to the mainland, including the Seven Mile Bridge – the longest and most stunning of them, and the Harris Gap Bridge, the shortest one with only 37 feet (11 m).

  7. The 113-mile-long Overseas Highway, running through the Florida Keys, is considered one of the most picturesque driving routes in the United States. It was completed in 1938, built on the remains of the Overseas Railroad, which operated between 1912 and 1935 until the Storm of the Century destroyed it in 1935.

  8. Believe it or not, living on a boat in a marina can be much cheaper than owning a house in the Keys. Yes, you read that right! You can enjoy a million-dollar waterfront view from the comfort of your boat, at a fraction of the cost of housing. For many locals, this is the only way to enjoy such views without breaking the bank.

  9. Florida Keys are one of the few areas in the US that never experience frost or snowfall, as the coldest temperature ever recorded was 41°F (5°C). But beware, the hurricane season lasts from June to November and the storms usually occur in the height of summer – August and September.

  10. Key West has great air conditions, making it a suitable spot for the U.S. Navy’s training facility for air-to-air combat. You can also find two airports in the Keys – one in Marathon catering to private planes, and another one in Key West serving commercial flights.

  11. The Overseas Highway US 1 starts with Mile Marker Zero, located at the corner of Whitehead Street and Fleming Street in the Old Town of Key West. You can find a variety of ‘Mile 0’ souvenirs everywhere in the Keys, but in everyday life the mile markers are used as addresses along the Overseas Highway from Key West to Key Largo.

  12. In the mid-1800s, when trade between the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea was booming, the wrecking industry made the Florida Keys one of the wealthiest places in the US. It began to decline in the early 1900s when the railroad was constructed, but you can still find plenty of shipwrecks scattered at the bottom of the ocean.

The Florida Keys have so much to offer – from breathtaking views to interesting history and the abundant wildlife. Whether you plan to explore the Islands on your own or join a tour, you are sure to have an amazing time in this paradise!

13.Ernest Hemingway, the famous American novelist, lived in Key West for many years, and even today it houses his home-turned-museum. Tourists can visit the house and even experience the six toed cats that are said to be his descendants.

14.The Florida Keys also boast of some delicious, local seafood! Grilled lobster in an orange butter sauce, yellowtail with horseradish sauce, and coconut shrimp are few of the popular dishes.

15.This place is also known for its vibrant nightlife. The popular Mallory Square in Key West comes alive after sunset. From street performers to artists, you will find plenty of entertainment.

16.Scuba diving is another popular activity in the Keys. With its clear waters and amazing marine life, this is a great place to explore the underwater world. Some interesting spots are the Blue Heron Bridge and the Dry Tortugas National Park.

17.The Keys are also known for being a refuge for people suffering from leprosy in the late 19th century. The islands were quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease, and people living there were called “Gibsonites” or “Gibson Blocks”.

18.Sports fishing is another popular activity here, with some of the biggest marlin, sailfish, and dolphin fish being caught in the waters here.

19.The southernmost point of the United States is located in Key West. This 90-foot-high buoy marks the spot, which is just 90 miles from Cuba.

20.The Florida Keys are also known for their parks and nature reserves. Everglades National Park, Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, Key Largo Hammock State Park, and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park are some of the places worth visiting.

21.Ft. Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is another popular spot. Located at the western end of Key West, this park is full of activities to keep visitors entertained – from swimming to snorkeling, sunbathing and picnicking.

22.The Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is a great place for snorkeling and diving, boasting of colorful coral reefs and abundant marine life.

23.This place also has some fantastic beaches! Smathers Beach is one of the best beaches in Key West and is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and watching the spectacular Sunset Celebration held every evening.

24.Bahia Honda State Park is another incredible spot to visit. It is situated on Big Pine Key and is the perfect destination for camping, fishing and kayaking.

25.In addition to all its natural beauty, the Florida Keys have some interesting museums as well. The Key West Aquarium and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory are two popular attractions.

26.And if you’re looking for a unique experience, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum offers people tours of the famous author’s house.