Road Trip, Florida Keys
On Bahia Honda Key you'll find the old overseas railroad remains. Henry Flagler built this rail road in 1912. In 1935 a hurricane destroyed a section. It had to cross water 30' deep. 5, 055' bridge. The top was for two lanes of traffic after this.
Started in 1905, complete in 1912, often refered to as Flagler's Folly.
The entire Overseas Highway, which stretches from Key Largo to Key West, is an incredible road trip. But the highlight of this drive is the seven mile bridge.
This is one of the longest bridges in the United States. It is actually just under 7 miles, but most folks in the Keys are not bothered by such lack of accuracy. It was built to replace the old Overseas Highway and the old Seven Mile Bridge, which is now closed to motorized traffic although pedestrians are allowed on either end. The old bridge was originally a railroad line which was damaged by a severe Hurricane in the 1930's. The US government converted the old bridge into a highway and it was used until 1980. A tram runs across the still operable portion of the 7 Mile Bridge and takes visitors to Pigeon Key.
The first 2 miles of the old bridge are open to pedestrians. Here you can walk or jog out over the ocean. The new bridge is narrow and stopping is not permitted.
The bridge begins in Marathon on its northern end and ends near Bahia Honda State Park. It has been featured in several action films.
An Islamorada shopping mall that displays this "world's largest lobster" is apparently being sold (from what I was told by a resident) and the lobster may be for sale for some big 5-figure amount.
Once these old Florida icons are gone, I do not think they will ever be replaced and that is almost a shame as they have been fixtures for many decades.
These statues, models, artworks and icons can be found from Mile Marker 0 in Key West all the way north to Key Largo. Some are clearly visible from the road, some are hidden off-road.
Look close and you may see a zebra, a mermaid, and a giant shark.
Big Pine Key and the rest of the Lower Keys are next. Big Pine is the jumping off point for Looe Key, a shallow coral formation that is one of the most spectacular shallow water dive locations anywhere. Big Pine is also home to the diminutive Key deer, a subspecies of the white tail deer. There are even a few alligators in a pond nicknamed the Blue Hole that’s tucked away in a pine and palm grove.
After Key Largo you will reach Islamorada, a village of homey islands that includes Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key and Lower Matecumbe Key. Morada means purple in Spanish, and lore has it the early Spanish explorers named these isles for the floating purple sea snails, or janthina janthina, they probably saw feeding on jelly fish near the islands.
Islamorada also prides itself as the Sportfishing Capital of the World. Here, you can venture offshore on a charter boat for a chance at the beautiful, acrobatic sailfish or the magnificently colored dolphin fish, a.k.a mahi-mahi. Hire a guide and you can take to the shallow near-shore waters to catch the mysterious ghost of the flats, the bonefish, or venture into the backcountry to catch redfish and tarpon.
Big Pine Key is home to the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to obey the slow speed limit on this island as the Key Deer (about the size of a large dog), roam all parts of the island (including the Winn-Dixie parking lot). For a better chance of seeing these deer, turn off into one of the residential side streets, or wander back to the small island of No Name Key.
This was a strange location. At this point the road seems to stop. Outside the picture the main road is continued however. This bridge was on a parallel road. It's still a funny sight. I believe there's been shot some movies around this point as well. Anybody has a clue?
On Indian Key, you can see the site where early settlers were attacked by raiding Indians. Set foot on Lignumvitae Key and your are walking on an ancient, modestly elevated patch of land where tropical hardwood trees, including the lignum vitae, have taken root. Both islands are accessible only by boat.
After Marathon, you will reach the foot of the Seven Mile Bridge which is the gateway to the Lower Keys. Don’t pass up the small island below the bridge. Pigeon Key once housed the workers who built Flaglers' railroad in the early 1900s. Today, you can take a tour of this island and view a snapshot of life in the early 20th century.
Had read about the Florida reef so booked a snorkeling tour ... didn't have a underwater camera then .. this was 2006 .. but anyway the water was lovely shades of blue. Took longer to get out there than I'd thought .. my hubby wasn't digging the bumpy ride. We saw some fish and I recall seeing a huge barracuda up close which sort of concerned us but I guess its used to tourists. The water was so deep and the choppy .. it wasn't our best snorkeling experience. But was best snorkeling in Florida.