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Locations

FLORIDA KEYS

The Spanish first found the Keys during Ponce de Leon's expedition in 1513. They mapped and named the Keys principally as an aid to their ships, which, full of gold and silver, used the Florida Straits to go from the New World back to the Old. The first settlement was at Key West, in 1882, a little more than two decades before Florida became a state. The other Keys pretty much stayed deserted until 1874, when the government surveyed them. After the survey, the government plotted land for businesses and homes. The early homes were primitive. They were built from the local beaches, made of wood and other materials washed up from shipwrecks. In 1912 Henry Flagler built a railroad to Key West. This greatly increased human settlement of the Keys. The railroad was destroyed by a hurricane in 1935, but in 1938 the longest over-water road in the world was built on the railroad's foundation. It includes 42 bridges--one that is seven miles long! This opened the Florida Keys up to a growing tourist trade.

KEY LARGO

The northernmost island of the Florida Keys island chain, lies only an hour's drive from South Florida's two major airports. Sandwiched between the watery wilderness of the Everglades National Park to the west and the fish-covered coral formations of North America's only living coral barrier reef to the east Key Largo's proximity to the Everglades makes it a premier destination for kayakers, birders and other eco-tourists. Locals consider their home the Diving Capital of the World but the island is nearly as famous as a sport-fishing destination. You can go after sailfish offshore, bonefish along the Atlantic shallows, or redfish and tarpon in Florida Bay. All this beauty, not to mention the island's rich history, has inspired a vibrant community of artists who show there work at several local galleries.

ISLAMORADA

The perfect place to sport fish as you have access not only to the Atlantic Ocean but also to the Florida Bay Sea. There are many onshore tourist attractions to visit too - the theatre of the sea with its marine wildlife and sea shows and the rain barrel and treasure village artist complexes.

MARATHON

Is located at the mid-point of the Keys Islands and boasts its own airport and beautiful beach amongst many other things. It also boasts some of the best fishing in the world. Nearby is the exotic Sombrero Reef which is protected by our marine sanctuary as it is one of North Americas only living coral barrier reefs. Boot Key Harbor is in the center of the island and is home to the City Marina which administers a 226-ball mooring field and a large anchoring area.

BIG PINE

For a little more solitude the lower keys Islands would be the ideal place to go. Here, you can snorkel or dive over the Looe Key coral reef or visit the National Deer Sanctuary, Big Pine is the location which gives access to snorkeling and diving at Looe Key reef.

KEY WEST

Was the first populated Keys Islands and its history dates back to the Kings of Spain and their treasures. Its bohemian architecture and tropical plant's make it a beautiful and unique place to visit. Amongst them Ernest Hemingway's house and the John Audobon house. Every day at sunset you can watch Key West's famous sunset celebration at Mallory dock where jugglers, fire-eaters and musicians to name but a few adorn the streets. Key West nightlife is legendary especially on Duval Street which is teaming with open air restaurants and bars. The Key West Bight marina is also a place not to be missed as you can eat its famous sea fare and listen to music as you watch all the boats take the hundreds of tourist's on the excursion of their choice.

BAHAMAS

Exotic waters and the cooling trade winds have earned The Bahamas an international reputation for sailing, with regattas and races held year-round. The islands are actually the birthplace of the Gulf Stream, a phenomenon that also accounts for their astonishing variety and abundance of marine life. Legendary game fish draw sport fisherman in search of the "big one," and more than 50 international fishing records have been set in these waters. The great writer and fisherman Ernest Hemingway considered the Bahamian island of Bimini a home. The same conditions that make these islands so appealing to sailors and fisherman draw visitors to the vast and diverse underwater parks. With more than 5% of the planet's reef mass, the Bahamas offer inexhaustible pleasures and challenges to snorkelers and divers. The natural beauty of the water extends to the thousands of miles of shoreline, which has some of the world's most stunningly beautiful and unsullied beaches. From the pink sands of Harbour Island and Eleuthera to the deserted strands of the Exumas and San Salvador, there is a lifetime of beaches to experience. Further inland are gardens and National Parks with rare and endangered species, such as the exotic Abaco Parrot and the Bahamian Iguana. Although The Bahamas are as diverse and numerous as the days of the year, the reassuring unifier is the charm and hospitality of its people.

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