Florida Keys Boat Rentals

Florida Keys Boat RentalsFlorida Keys boat rentals should be part of your vacation plans if you love to fish, snorkel, or dive. For many, spending a week in the Florida Keys is a dream come true, a chance to fish, snorkel or dive all week long under sunny skies and perfect weather. For those on a budget, the cost of hiring a charter fisherman every day is just too much. With prices from $500 for a half day, up to one thousand dollars for a full day trip offshore, the bill can add up pretty quickly. That’s why Florida Keys boat rentals are great for fishing or diving enthusiasts. With a boat rental, you can go out fishing or snorkeling or whatever, every day when you want to go.

Florida Keys boat rentals mean you can also go anywhere you want too. If you love snorkeling, then going out on a party snorkel boat every day of your vacation means you will go to the same spot or same two or three spots over and over again, and only for 45 minutes at a time. With a Keys boat rental, you can find your own corner of the reef and explore it yourself, away from the crowds. Usually the party snorkel boats, the cheaper ones, the big catamarans, take dozens of people out at a time and everyone swims around in a crowd on the same patch of reef. It’s the best thing in the world for your first time out snorkeling on the coral reef in the Florida Keys. However, if you want to explore more and go out more often, a Florida Keys boat rental will fit your needs and save you money.

 

Florida Keys boat rentals are usually found at local marinas or by looking in the local yellow pages, either in the book or online, for the term Boat Rentals. Small operators will have a tiny fleet of boats, usually ranging from 11 up to around 30 feet or so, for you to rent. If you have your own hand-held GPS, bring it because more often than not, Florida Keys boat rentals do not come with GPS equipment or sonar. There will be a radio and perhaps a compass but that’s about it in the way of electronics. Boat rental staff will send you out with a schematic map of the water in that area of the Keys, with some tips on where to go for whatever it is that you’re doing. If you want to go snorkeling, then they will point out some good patch reefs, usually close to shore. Good luck if you don’t have a GPS system. The staff will pretend it’s easy to get to the patches using your eyesight or the stars or something like that but you won’t even know you’re on the actual patch reef you’re trying to get to if you don’t have the GPS equipment.

Florida Keys Recreation


This Florida Keys recreation guide contains a variety of recreational activities and things to do in the Florida Keys. Trust us, there’s so much to do in the Florida Keys, you need a Florida Keys recreationguide to plan your vacation! While most come for the watersports, there’s also a whole variety of land-based things to do. We even have museums, historical tours, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. Some of the resorts have everything you may want to do while here on vacation, so you never even have to leave the grounds. For whatever reason you may have for wanting to visit the Florida Keys, you’re sure to end up discovering many many more to come back on a future vacation.

Fishing

Many visitors to the Florida Keys are drawn here simply because it’s warm here when it’s cold in other places, and the Keys are easy to get to since they are part of Florida. Anyone who visits can’t help but notice that fishing is a big deal here in the Keys. That’s because the Florida Keys have the best fishing in the whole country, and people come from all over the world to fish our reef and our flats backcountry. The fishing is great, and it’s also very diverse, in terms of all the different sorts of fishing you can do here.

Since we have the giant living coral reef that runs parallel to the Florida Keys, there’s reef fishing. The reef is within a few miles of land all across the Keys, so it’s a short trip out to some great yellowtailing, grouper catches, and other reef fishing. Beyond the reef, if you go out to the dropoff, where the ocean depth drops to hundreds of feet, you can go for larger sportfish such as wahoo, tuna and mackeral. Backcountry, or flats fishing, is superb here, from Everglades near Key Largo, to the backcountry flats all around every Key in the island chain. Choose your flats fishing guide and he or she will take you to flat waters where you’ll spot bonefish, go for permit, and perhaps hook some tarpon as well.

Snorkelling & Scuba Diving

One of the gems of Florida Keys recreation is the living coral reef. It stretches the whole way alongside the chain of islands, and beyond Key West, the last inhabited Key to the west, out to the Dry Tortugas. That’s over one hundred miles of coral reef! The reef supports tons of fish and other sea creatures which can easily be discovered on a snorkel or scuba excursion. Many life-long scuba divers even make it a point to visit the Florida Keys because of our beautiful reef system. Snorkelling can be learned and enjoyed in one afternoon, while scuba requires much more time and investment because of the required training. However, you can get temporarily trained in scuba in one morning, then go for a dive in the afternoon, so it’s entirely possible to enjoy the coral reef this way while on vacation.

Things to do in the Florida Keys

Parasail, Jet Ski, & Kayaking

There are so many ways to enjoy the water in the Florida Keys! If you’ve never done parasailing before, go for it in the Keys. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get wet, and it’s the best way to get a bird’s eye view of the water below. You’ll see the water and flats backcountry in a whole new perspective…one you’ll never forget! The water is usually pretty clear, so you’ll get to see sharks below, as well as perhaps a ray or two.

Jet ski rentals abound in the Florida Keys, and they provide a good way to get out to see remote parts of the backcountry, or just to get in the water and have some fun. There are guided tours on jet skis, or you can just rent one and jet around near shore. Either way, it’s a great way to cool off in summertime.

Kayaking is wonderful in the Florida Keys because there is no end to the backcountry and mangrove trails you can explore, for an exciting Florida Keys recreation adventure. Discovering the Florida Keys by kayak is definitely the way to go!

Florida Keys Real Estate

Florida Keys Real EstateThis Florida Keys Real Estate guide contains valuable information for anyone considering purchasing property in the Keys. The real estate industry in the Florida Keys serves both locals and visitors who seek rentals, vacation rentals, and home purchases. With the real estate boom of the past five or six years, real estate prices in the Florida Keys have skyrocketed along with the prices in the rest of Southern Florida. The number of realtors also increased, to keep up with demand. Now that the boom is over, prices of homes and condos are coming down, but this is still the Florida Keys. In other words, it’s still rather expensive to live here. After all, the Keys are sub-tropical islands within the United States. A very popular idea! Just about every square inch of land that can be developed for housing has been developed or has property under construction. It’s very difficult and requires a long waiting period for builders to get permits for new construction. The demand is still rather high for property here, so all this means prices are still high. However, compared to just a short time ago, prices are much lower on Florida Keys Real Estate. Housing pricing is relative: it’s all about market value so what’s overpriced to some people may be the deal of the century to someone else who values living in the Florida Keys, a magical place to live by any account.

Florida Keys Long Term Rentals

While prices for home purchases in the Florida Keys have come down, rentals haven’t really moved all that much. That’s because the prices of long-term rentals in the Keys didn’t really balloon upwards as much as purchase prices did. It’s still expensive to rent in the Florida Keys, to the extent that there are problems with workforce housing shortages. The bottom line for those relocating to the Keys is, unless you have unlimited funds and are bent on owning your home, renting is still a better deal than owning. That’s because prices are high, but also because taxes and insurance premiums are at an all-time high in Florida, and especially the Keys. Add on maintenance fees for condo owners, and your monthly living expenses could excede those of a renter, even if your mortgage is entirely paid off!

The good news is, there are plenty of long-term rentals as well as short-term and vacation rentals in the Florida Keys Real Estate market. There are homes, condos, and townhouses. There are pools, tennis courts, and boatslips. Choose remote, woodsy Big Pine Key for back to nature Old-Keys style. Choose Key Largo for family-oriented homes within commuting distance to Miami (yes, people do this all the time!). Choose Marathon for the neat subdivisions of Key Colony Beach. Choose Key West for nightlife, conch houses, or fancy condos on the beach. Key West has the largest population of the Florida Keys, and lots of choices of housing style. Rentals generally have higher turnover than in most parts of the country, since this is a pretty transient population. But most landlords would be grateful for a long-term renter so look for deals and perks if you plan to stay six months or more. Many will gladly accept pets, boat trailers, or other negotiables, just because you plan on staying longer than average.

Florida Keys Dining

Florida Keys diningThe Florida Keys Dining and Entertainment guide contains establishments, dining and entertainment businesses and companies serving the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys have long been known as an exciting string of sub-tropical islands with fantastic watersports and lovely places to stay. There are also plenty of famous bars in the Keys, and some darn good restaurants as well. While the 100-mile long chain of islands caters to visitors from all over the US and across the globe, it’s wise to read up on Florida Keys dining choices in your area in order to have the best experience eating out. Florida Keys dining establishments range from quick and convenient pit stops who seem to have little interest in attracting repeat customers, to some of the finest restaurants in Florida. As you might also guess, prices range as well, and you don’t always get what you pay for! Let us be your guide, with insiders’ information and reviews for you to peruse. We have restaurants and bars listed by area so wherever you are in the Florida Keys, you’re sure to find a good meal!

Restaurants & Bars in the Upper Keys

Key Largo is a popular key for stopping and eating because if you’re driving from Fort Lauderdale International Airport or Miami International Airport, you’ve made it to the Keys and you feel like relaxing. Gone is most of the congestion, the tolls, the city, the stress. Now it’s time to eat!

Everyone driving through Key Largo, and that includes anyone driving through the Florida Keys since Key Largo is the fist, upper-most key, will drive past Sundowners. It’s on the right side as you drive West, or what locals call Bayside. They have waterfront dining positioned perfectly so you can catch the famous Florida Keys sunset while eating. You can sit inside, where you can still see the sunset and Florida Bay through the giant windows on the west and south walls. There’s also a dock outside with tables, which is perfect for warm evenings and causal lunches. Pull your boat right up to the restaurant and dock right under your table for free. There’s also a patio area with a Tiki hut bar and outdoor tables. This area isn’t always open for meals, but if you have to wait for your table, this is the place to do it. And Sundowners is so popular that you may have to wait for your table some nights.

Their entrees are fabulous, especially their Yellowtail Snapper with almonds dish. Appetizers are fun, delicious, and inspired by local cuisine. The seared yellowfin tuna with sesame seeds is not to be missed. This dish is offered everywhere in the Florida Keys, but Sundowners’ version is among the best. This is Florida Keys dining at its best in Key Largo.

Restaurants & Bars in the Middle Keys

If you drive through Marathon, in the Middle Keys, you will see the Cracked Conch Cafeon your left in the center of town. It’s just after the Publix and next to Boater’s World. This casual restaurant serves good food all day and has outdoor patio seating and indoor seating as well. The menu is diverse so everyone will find something to please. The service is friendly and home-style. There’s a bar and plenty of parking. The appetizers feature a wonderful spinache dip that’s served hot and delicious. Their seared yellowfin tuna is also great. Their grouper sandwich is fabulous, highly recommended.
Key West dining

Lower Keys Dining & Bars

In Key West, if you’re just arriving in town and need to eat quickly and cheaply, try Waffle House. It’s just as you drive onto the island, there’s plenty of free parking, and you can’t miss it. It’s part of the Days Inn compound so just look for the large signs as route A1 splits left and right, for beaches of downtown.

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

 

Let a Glass Bottom Boat tour take you to the Florida Keys’ most precious resource: the living coral reef. The reef is average of six miles off shore in the Keys, making it very accessible and convenient to get to. Glass bottom boat tours head out to the reef every day throughout the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West. There are glass bottom boats available in every major key. These tours are the perfect way for vacationers to see the coral reef, especially if they don’t have much time. How come?

  1. No matter what the weather, the glass bottom boat is a smooth ride.
  2. You don’t have to get in the water to see the reef.
  3. It’s safe and fun for any age, from toddler to senior.
  4. There’s AC!
  5. No swimming, snorkeling or scuba skills required.

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

Glass bottom boat tours leave from John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, amongst other places in the Keys. It’s easy to find and there’s plenty of parking. Glass bottom boats are large and stable. This makes for a very comfortable ride, and don’t forget there’s also Air Conditioning in the cabin. The hull of the boat is fitted with glass panels through which you can see through to the water below. When the Captain of the boat hovers over coral reef, you’ll get to see everything clearly and up close…without getting in the water! See it all in luxury and comfort, no matter what the weather.

What to Expect on the Glass Bottom Boat

Expect to see common reef fish like parrot fish, zebra fish, barracuda, snapper, sargent majors, nurse sharks, sting rays, and even the occasional grouper. Look for coral species like purple fan, a soft coral that’s prevelant in the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. Your tourguide on the glass bottom boatis well-informed and his or her speech will be full of fascinating facts about the coral reef you see. It’s a great opportunity to learn about one of the best things about the Florida Keys, the amazing coral reef.

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Florida Keys Dolphin Tours

Dolphins are some of the most beloved marine animals. Hop aboard one of the available Florida Keys Dolphin tours and discover why. These mammals are very intelligent and playful, everyone who encounters them will be delighted. Dolphins are happiest in the wild, and eco Dolphin tours will take you to their habitat to observe feeding, playing and just hanging around the boat. In the Florida Keys Dolphin tours take people out every day and head for the gorgeous backcountry of the Florida Keys, where the Dolphins live. In their natural state, they play and leap through the air, and run in groups called pods. You can see it all on these exciting Florida Keys Dolphin tours.

About the Guides for Florida Keys Dolphin Tours

Experienced guides who run the Florida Keys Dolphin tours have decades of knowledge about the dolphins. They know where the dolphins go to eat, play, and rest in the wild. They know the dolphins by name in some cases, and know the relationships like grandmothers, fathers and even baby sitters! You know you will have a great tour because the guides for the Florida Keys dolphin tours have been doing this for a long time. They know where to go to find dolphins in the wild. Expert guides working the Florida Keys dolphin tours will share their knowledge with passengers and help them get to know these amazing creatures.

About the Boats Used on Florida Keys Dolphin Tours

Your boat will be comfortable, clean and specially equipped for Florida Keys dolphin tours. Many times you will be heading out to dolphin habitat in a catamaran, known for a smooth ride. Most Florida Keys dolphin toursalso include time for swimming and snorkeling near the dolphin habitat, but not with the dolphins. There will be plenty of time for relaxing, taking photos, and exploring the warm waters of the Florida Keys. Enjoy the spectacular surroundings of the sub-tropical waters and backcountry and perhaps also see some sting rays, gentle nurse sharks, and sea turtles. All this is possible on Florida Keys dolphin tours.

Swimming on Florida Keys Dolphin Tours

Since guides are environmentally aware and eco-conscious, they minimize human contact with wild dolphins. That means tours will observe the dolphins but not jump into the water wtih them. Luckily, you will get to swim nearby, in the Dolphin habitat and discover all the other marine life that thrives in this sub-tropical environment. Swimming with the dolphins is invading their home and altering their wild state. Florida Keys dolphin tour guides respect these beautiful creatures and obey scientists’ guidelines that we not disturb them. Dolphins will sometimes swim very close to the boat because they are playful and curious, and this provides plenty of chances to see them and take pictures. Enjoy your tour!

Florida Keys Lobsterng

Florida Keys Lobstering

Florida Keys lobstering means going for Spiny Lobster, which are Florida’s version of the tasty treat well known to seafood lovers all around the country. There are Spiny Lobster living on and all around the coral reef that runs parallel to the Florida Keys. Florida’s lobster don’t have the large claw that lobsters from Maine have, but their tails are still tasty and delicious. There’s a commercial Florida Keys lobstering industry all over the Florida Keys that sets out traps and brings in the bugs, as they are known locally, for restaurants around the state.

Florida Keys Lobstering for Amateurs

Florida Keys Lobstering is also a fun sport for amateurs and tourists. You just need a permit attached to your Florida fishing license. It’s about five dollars. It will enable you to get 6 lobster per day in the Florida Keys, which is a smaller limit than in the rest of Florida where the daily limit is 12. The reason is that at the opening of the amateur Florida Keys lobsteringseason, so many people visit the Keys to catch lobster that the bug population was becoming too quickly decimated, as was their habitat. Fis & Wildlife of Florida put extra protection on for the Keys to mitigate the natural resource depletion that occurs during lobster mini season.

 

Florida Keys Lobstering Basics

Once you have your lobster permit, you’ll need some basic equipment. Here’s a quick run-down of your gear:

  1. Tickle Stick
  2. Net
  3. Catch Bag
  4. Measuring Tool
  5. Snorkel
  6. Mask
  7. Fins
  8. Gloves
  9. Dive Flag

Many people bring their own boat and go out to the reef or to some ledges amongst the sea grass. You can also rent a boat in the Florida Keys, or charter a boat to take you lobstering. Also, lots of lobstering is done with scuba gear instead of snorkeling. Whatever method you use, make sure you put up your dive flag whenever you’re in the water, especially during the chaos of lobster mini season.

Lobsters live in crevices and under rocks and coral. You need a tickle stick to coax them out and then annoy them until they run into your net. Measure your lobster while in the water because you must not even take an undersize lobster out of the water. If you see bright orange eggs on the underbelly of the lobster, send her back. You cannot take egg-bearing females either. A catch bag is good so you don’t have to swim back to your boat every time you catch a lobster.

With some minimal snorkel and free-dive skills and basic gear, it’s a whole lot of fun to catch lobsters in the Florida Keys. Even beginners can get started in shallower water towards the beginning of the season before other shallow-water lobstering people get to them. Practice your diving skills, learn how the lobsters move and react, and you have a new water sport skill to try whenever you visit the Florida Keys.

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Fish of the Florida Keys

 


Amberjack


Black Grouper


Bluefish


Black Tip Shark


Blue Runner


Bonefish


Bonito


Bonnet Head Shark


Cobia


File Fish


Greu Triggerfish


Grunt


Hogfish


Houndfish


Crevelle Jack


King Mackerel


Lemon Shark


Mangorve Snapper


Nurse Shark


Pinfish


Queen Trigger Fish


Rainbow Runner


Rainbow Runner


Red Grouper


Sailfish


Scorpion Fish


Surgeon Fish


Tarpon


Triple Tail


Yellow Jack


Yellowtail Snapper

 

 

Florida Keys Offshore Fishing

Florida Keys Offshore Fishing

Florida Keys offshore fishing is one method of fishing you can try while visiting the Florida Keys. This is usually done by either larger center console or sport fisher type boats. There are offshore charters leaving from pretty much all areas of the Florida Keys, making Florida Keys offshore fishing one of the most popular activities in the Keys.

Types of Offshore Fish

Depending on the season, Florida Keys offshore fishing can bring you Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), Tuna (Black fin , Yellowfin), Billfish such as sailfish, white and blue marlin, jacks, usually amber jack, bar jacks and yellow jacks, Triple tail and mackerel. Offshore fishing usually consists of trolling or live bait fishing. The fishing is usually centered around some sort of offshore structure, such as a offshore weed line or a sea mount.

Offshore Weed Lines

Offshore weed lines are usually fished in the summer time, when the winds a calm enough to let the line form. The weed lines are made of sargasm weed. Sargasm weed is host to tons of tiny creatures; little crustaceans etc, and in turn attract schools of tiny bait fish to feed on the tiny animals hiding in the weed. This in turn attracts bigger fish feeding on the smaller fish. The lines are formed by the edges of offshore currents, and high winds will mess them up. The fish that are attracted to the weed lines are still out there when it is windy but the weed line draws them into a concentrated area. Fish caught around weed lines in the summer are usually Dolphin, Wahoo, Bar jacks and triple tail. Sometimes marlin will be out there feeding on the dolphin. You never know what will turn up when you go out for a day of Florida Keys offshore fishing.

Offshore Sea Mounts

Offshore sea mounts are basically mountains on the sea floor, current passes over them and it pushes oxygen rich cold water from the sea floor towards the surface. This pushes bait fish around and toward the surface which attracts larger predators. People troll around these humps for tuna, Wahoo and billfish. People also drift live baits around these humps on the surface for the same fish. Dropping large live baits down towards the bottom on these offshore humps is often how the largest amberjacks are caught.

Florida Keys Flats Fishing

Florida Keys Flats FishingFlorida Keys flats fishing is done on the flats. Flats are essentially large planes of shallow water that surround some of the keys. They can have grassy bottom or a harder coral type bottom. These flats are any where from 6 inches to 6 feet deep and stretch for miles in some areas. They are essentially like large saltwater lakes, and due to the clear water in the Keys you can see bottom and areas surrounding the boat. Florida Keys Flats fishing boats are small skiffs very similar to fresh water bass boats, except they have raised platform in the back known as the poling platform. The guide stands on this platform and pushes the boat along with a long pole, while the angler stands in the front of the boat preparing to target fish. This is known as sight fishing. It’s kind of like hunting. It is primarily catch and release fishing for tarpon, bonefish and permit. This can be very difficult fishing, since it requires skill at accurately casting and a lot of patience. Bonefish and permit are very spooky fish and will often run if they hear a the slightest noise. Tarpon, although not as spooky, are finicky eaters, and depending on the conditions won’t eat the tenderest morsel even if it is right in front of them. For easier fish to catch while sight fishing try catching barracuda and sharks. These monsters are way easier and catching either on a surface lure or fly in shallow water is a blast, even though they don’t have the prestige of other fish.

Flats boats aren’t just used to sight fish on the flats. They are often used to fish mangrove channels and the base of bridges…pretty much anywhere there might be a tight squeeze to fit a large boat in or shallow water. Chartering a Florida Keys flats fishing boat is generally the least expensive type of charter, due to the boat’s smaller size and cheaper running costs. They do ride pretty wet when the wind is blowing though and there usually isn’t any cover out of the sun so plan accordingly.