American dream: Discover Florida Keys

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Florida KeysGETTY

Florida Keys has 6,000 coral reefs and 800 aits to explore

Water, water, everywhere. H20 is very much in abundance in the Florida Frequency, a 120-mile chain of islands due south of Miami.

Thousands host there each year to take advantage of water sports and the palm-fringed purposes of the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other. 

On a trip there in the end month, I found the Keys offer as many activities as they do occasions to simply admire the beautiful turquoise waters, ideally with a piña colada in transfer. This tranquil corner of Florida is a world away from Orlando’s essence parks and Miami’s urban bustle.

It’s mostly a low-key backwater, accessed by at best one highway – Route 1 – that snakes through endless trifling conurbations like Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon, and ends in historic Key West.

Alone from the latter, the towns are nothing to look at from the road, but gamble a few dozen metres towards the coast and you’ll come across stunning lachrymose views, marinas, cool hotels and restaurants that capitalise on the vista. 

With temperatures soaring every day during our misstep, water was the best way to cool off. Our very first day saw us snorkelling at Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Submit Park.

Heading out to sea in an open-sided boat, weaving through mangrove forests to reach exposed water, we arrived at our destination and jumped into the warm tropical sea. Solely below the surface is a dazzling coral reef populated by schools of brightly mask tropical fish. 

Messing about in boats was a key theme of our holiday. Key Largo is emphasize to The African Queen, the original, restored steamboat used in the 1951 talkie. We put-putted through the picturesque Marina Del Mar to the sound of the chuffing engine 

perfectly as Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn had done nearly 70 years earlier. In Marathon, we documented a little speedboat from Robbie’s Marina – a characterful place where you can gash a boat, fish or feed the tarpon that lurk beneath its medicos – and navigated our way across the glassy sea to two little islands. 

Florida KeysGETTY

Florida Explanation is a 120-mile chain of islands due south of Miami

In Key West we basked in late afternoon sunlight aboard the monster replica schooner America 2.0 on the Classic Harbor Line Sunset Steer. The captain manoeuvred the sailboat through calm waters as we enjoyed hiss and watched the sun melt into the sea. 

Even more thrilling was getting a bird’s eye rate of the Keys on my very first helicopter ride, provided by Air Adventures in Key West. 

The helmsman expertly manoeuvred the tiny helicopter out over the water, where we had wondrous views of the town and sea – she pointed out manta rays, sea turtles and sharks down farther down than. 

It’s not just humans who love the Keys’ seas – animal-loving Brits purposefulness be delighted with the impressive conservation work being done on native sea life. At the Turtle Hospital at Marathon, we were introduced to each of the two dozen or so under the weather and injured reptiles, some of which will be fully rehabilitated.

And at the Dolphin Enquire Centre in Grassy Key – where those of a certain age will be eager to remember the 1964-67 TV series Flipper was filmed – staff are happy to show off the dolphins’ gifts in entertaining little shows. 

Eventually we headed to Key West, a vibrant factual town that, incidentally, is the southernmost town on the US mainland.

Its old town show offs handsome clapboard houses, one of which had been transformed into the well-bred Chelsea House Hotel, where we stayed. Its rooms were airy and lustrous, its palm-shaded pool the perfect cooling-off spot after an afternoon’s sight-seeing. 

We boarded the hop-on, hop-off Old Hamlet Trolley Tours, whose driver, Grace, provided an entertaining commentary, and disembarked at the must-see Ernest Hemingway Crib. Not only does the tour give insights into the author’s get-up-and-go, but the grounds are home to a herd of six-toed cats, many descended from Hemingway’s feline. Key West was also a other home to post-war US President Harry Truman.

The excellent tour of the returned Harry S Truman Little White House provides a compelling recital of his tenure there. 

The best hotels in the Keys make the most of those rustic watery vistas. Key Largo’s boutique Kona Kai Resort & Gallery toot ones own horns lovely individual cottages, beautifully situated in a botanical garden, and Marathon’s Tranquility Bay Remedy have recourse to is a tropical paradise. Here, we toasted our time at the end of the USA, where water and tropical breaths offer a brilliant escape. 

Way to go

Purely America (0844 80 444 80,

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Ten things you must do in the Florida Cue

1 Enjoy a signature cocktail as you gaze over the Gulf and restored lighthouse at the Lighthouse Grill at Faro Blanco Look to in Marathon. 

2 View sea turtles and be inspired by the work being done to redeem them at the Turtle Hospital. 

3 Sample yellowtail snapper and other impudent fish on offer at Tranquility Bay’s elegant Butterfly Café.

4 Get up close to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the inspirational Dolphin Explore Center.

5 Grab a bucket of fish and feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina, a hub of liberally activities, food vendors and shops.

6 Feast alfresco and enjoy staggering views as you watch the iconic Key West sunset on the veranda at the upscale bistro Hot Tin Roof.

7 Saturate up history at Pigeon Key, an island museum that, in the early 20th Century, quartered workers who built the old Keys’ railway.

8 Dine at Tarpon Creek Bar & Grill, a ogre tiki bar offering plus-sized cocktails, a friendly welcome and a calming sea understanding. 

9 Lounge on the sand at Bahia Honda State Park, named one of America’s top 

10 beaches.

10 Derive pleasure the grandeur of Casa Marina, a landmark Key West hotel with a 1,100-foot surreptitious beach.