Paradise on your doorstep
South of Miami, some 800 islands comprise the sensational archipelago of the Florida Keys, where opportunities to enjoy water-based activities and sightseeing are endless. Exuding a unique charm, this area delivers the very best experience for a Florida luxury yacht charter with idyllic cruising grounds that extend over 180 miles.
With the highest year-round temperatures in the US and vast stretches of warm, blue sea, the ultimate way to capture the authentic tropical flavor is a Florida Keys itinerary for seven days. Whether seeking an action-packed vacation or a relaxed ride, there is as much to do both on land and at sea as you wish. With the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary stretching over 2,900 nautical miles, this also provides a pristine zone for underwater photography and marine conservation enthusiasts to discover incredible flora and fauna during South Florida yacht charters.
Stretching from Key Biscayne through to the Dry Tortugas, the Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America, one of the largest systems in the world. Self-proclaimed dive capital of the world, Key Largo is the longest and northernmost of the islands with a host of ties to the sea – a must-see first stop on a Florida Keys sailing itinerary. Iconic underwater sites lie offshore, such as the famous bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss, Navy transport ship Spiegel Grove, The Elbow with fish-strewn wrecks, and the Molasses Reef blessed with tropical corals. Flanked by the Everglades National Park to the west, Key Largo also proves a popular destination for kayakers, birders, and eco-tourists. More local attractions include an underwater hotel and dolphin encounter programs, not to mention exclusive lunch cruises on the century-old steam-powered vessel “African Queen” from Humphrey Bogart’s silver screen days.
Low-key and romantic, neighboring Islamorada is a hub for R&R with breath-taking sunsets and an array of talc-white beaches to enjoy during a Florida Keys sailing itinerary. Dubbed the Village of Islands, this laidback retreat is king for sport fishing opportunities to catch marlin, wahoo, sailfish, and mahi-mahi. Experienced divers will relish the 287-foot Eagle shipwreck, encrusted with sponges and coral, while snorkeling at Cheeca Rocks or Alligator Reef Lighthouse is sublime. Aside from beautiful beaches and refreshing margaritas, the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center is a fascinating visit, showcasing the rich local history from shipwrecks to pirates, hurricanes to sunken treasure. Launch the kayaks and paddle to Indian Key, try the much-celebrated hogfish at popular Chef Michael’s, or what about a luxury picnic on the little-known sandbar off Whale Harbor Channel.
The next destination on a Florida Keys itinerary is the former fishing village of Marathon set in the Middle Keys, where history blends seamlessly with the great outdoors. Ideal for families looking for a relaxing vacation, the Turtle Hospital is a favorite while the Dolphin Rescue Center is a big draw. Activity seekers will not be disappointed either, with the local mangroves a great place for a SUP or kayak tour. White sands at Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum Beach do not disappoint and anchorages a-plenty can be found for yachts with picture-perfect views. In Marathon, it is no surprise they hold a number of annual food festivals, as the locally harvested fish, stone crabs, and lobster are mouth-watering, topped off of course with some key lime pie.
The Lower Keys, nicknamed “the Natural Keys”, offer a host of memorable locations both on land and sea, where nature-filled adventures and preserved beauty await. Take a hike through the National Key Deer Refuge to spot the tiny indigenous Key Deer or follow the coastline at Big Pine Key to discover fantastic reef snorkeling and a chance to spot gentle manatees. If you are still feeling active, kayaking through the nearby mangrove forests and seagrass flats is exhilarating, spot herons on the shore at the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge and observe freshwater birdlife, alligators, and turtles at the Blue Hole. For the prettiest beaches, Bahia Honda State Park offers pristine ribbons with a chilled atmosphere, here is a slice of paradise to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking away from the crowds on your Florida Keys itinerary.
Likely the best known, Key West is the most popular destination for a reason. Diverse and vibrant, whether you enjoy historical buildings, great food, or bustling nightlife this place hits the mark on every level. Much like all the Keys, it is a veritable yachting haven, with snorkeling, fishing, and outdoor activities in abundance, yet the standout factor is quirkiness. Split into two parts, Old Town lives up to its name with history and familiar bars, however, head to New Town to smoke Cuban-inspired cigars or Rum Row for local cocktails, visit the cursed doll inside the old fort-turned-museum and feed the tarpon by hand at Charter Boat Row. Mainly rocky beaches prevail while anchorages are plentiful, however, Smathers Beach offers the luxury of soft sand towards the end of your 7-day Florida Keys itinerary. With an air of New Orleans’ laissez-faire vibe, visit Fantasy Fest in October for out-there revelry, while July’s Hemmingway Fest is a little tamer.