Key Largo

John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Florida Keys
John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park
Key Largo, Florida Keys

Key Largo is the largest and northernmost island of the Florida Keys and lays only an hour's drive from South Florida's two major airports. From end to end, this Key measures about 30 miles (48 kilometers) and is 0.8 km (0.5 mi.) wide. It was originally called "Cayo Largo," which means long island, by the Spanish.

Divers flock to Key Largo and it's no wonder as this Key boasts the privilege of having the only living coral barrier reef in North America. People come from all over the world to enjoy the Keys' two underwater attractions – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (the nation's first underwater park) and the adjacent Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary. Together they cover approximately 190 square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. The ever-changing natural beauty that exists here includes marine life with 55 types of coral and 600 plus species of fish, along with shore birds and other native wildlife. The wreck of the Spiegel Grove, a 510-foot Navy ship intentionally sunk in June 2002 as the backbone for a new coral reef, is located six miles offshore in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. No wonder the Keys are renowned as the "Diving Capital of the World!"

Although considered the Diving Capital of the World, Key Largo is nearly as famous as a sport-fishing destination. Some of the best charter captains and fishing guides in the world are located here. Enjoy a day out on the water to catch sailfish offshore, bonefish along the Atlantic shallows, or redfish and tarpon in Florida Bay.

To the west of Key Largo is the stunning wilderness of the Everglades National Park, which makes this Key a much sought after destination for kayakers, birders and other eco-tourists. All this beauty, along with the island's rich history, has inspired a community of artists who show their work at several local galleries.

Explore this island once and you'll want to return again and again to enjoy the uniqueness of Key Largo.