A travel guide to The Florida Keys: Islamorada
Over the summer I was invited by the Keys Tourism Board to tour the beautiful and oh so sunny Florida Keys. I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. You can imagine that when the invitation arrived, it took me all of two seconds to say yes and thank you. Thank you very much. I had actually never visited the Florida Keys prior to this visit and I can honestly say that it was better and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
I’m actually thinking that now would be a VERY good time to pack up and go for another visit. The people, the food, the restaurants, the hotels, the WATER, seriously I fell in love with the colors of ocean. So much so I bought a necklace off a gallery owner, true story, that reminded me of the water and my trip.
If you follow me on Instagram, and Twitter you may have seen some of the FOOD, frolic and fun that we got to sample along the way. We ate, ate and ate again. All to report back to you of course. We’re givers people. Givers. Naturally being in the Keys we were on a mission to find the BEST Key Lime Pie and after about 9 I believe we have a winner.
I’ll tell you about that later. To start off our trip, we were picked up in Miami, yes I was hearing Will Smith’s “Welcome to Miami” in my head, by our hostest with the very mostess, Briana, and whisked our way South. Our first stop was:
- Located at 77500 Overseas Highway, mile marker (MM) 77.5, Islamorada FL 33036, 305-664-8070
This Islamorada landmark has been operating for 18 years on Lowe Matecumbe Key. The marina has everything from fishing charters to snorkel trips, kayak rentals, shops and their famed restaurant, The Hungry Tarpon.
Robbie’s and The Hungry Tarpon is a seaside watering hole, full of lively people. I feasted on shrimp tacos, we took in a little roadside shopping, and feeding the tarpon! Those fish are HUGE, bigger than any I think I’ve ever seen and jump up out of the water when you feed them out of your hand! Good thing they don’t eat people.
Then we checked in to our hotel Cheeca Lodge, where we spent two fabulous nights. Cheeca Lodge is an award winning hotel, steeped in history and a true traveler’s favorite, we were soon to realize what all of the fuss was about. Island perfection. This is honestly one of the nicest hotels I’ve EVER had the pleasure of staying in, and I’ve stayed in some swanky places people.
It has stunning views on a white sandy stretch of beach, a dock that went seemingly forever into the sea, crystal blue swimming pools (yes multiple pools), a spa, and even shopping. They even greeted us with champagne at check in. Happy. Camper. Here.
My suite consisted of a large living area with a LARGE sofa, enough room to have hosted a party, a flat screen TV, coffee table, and wet bar opened up into my sleeping area with desk/table and a king bed that was so comfortable I never wanted to leave. This area led onto a huge deck through sliding glass doors to a balcony. What was on that balcony?
An outdoor TUB. The water fell into the tub through the ceiling. Seriously. Wow. I could re-enter my room from the balcony through the shower- yes- the shower, which was entirely made of glass and had every imaginable sprayer. Two glass bowl sinks, upscale amenities. I’m a detail girl and appreciate those nice hair and bath products. I could have lived in that bathroom.
I honestly cried when we had to check out.
CHEECA LODGE & SPA
- Located at 81801 Overseas Highway, MM 82, Islamorada FL 33036, 305-664-4651
Named one of Travel + Leisure’s 500 Greatest Hotels in the world, Cheeca Lodge & Spa is a 27-acre property known for its accommodations, tradition of “barefoot elegance,” wide Atlantic Ocean beach, fine dining and spa. In addition, Cheeca Lodge is home to some of the top fishing tournaments in the county.
That evening we had the pleasure of dining at MARKER 88. We were treated to our own very special table beach side. Here I ate one of the best crab cakes of my life. I could honestly eat seafood every. single. day.
- Located at 88000 Overseas Highway, MM 88, Islamorada, FL 33037, 305-852-9315
Marker 88 is owned and operated by Upper Keys chef Bobby Stoky, Stoky also owns four other Upper Keys restaurants, Marker 88 has been open since 1967 offering beach side dining and some of the Keys’ freshest seafood.
OTHERSIDE BOARD SPORTS
The next day we went for an outdoor excursion. Paddle Boarding. I admit I was slightly panicked about this. You see, I’m NOT coordinated. At. All. Our instructor was a gem though and insisted I could do this. My competitive nature (read I’m stubborn) made me get off my cowardly sitting position and stand up on the board. I actually did pretty well for the first hour.
WELL that’s until a sting ray decided to swim under my board. Then all bets were off as I went INTO the ocean. No worries, despite my lack of coordination, I’m extremely quick and bounced back up onto the board faster than you can say SHIZZLE. As you can tell, I made it out and ended up having a blast. If you’re in the area, check them out.
I hear that SOME people also do Yoga on Paddle Boards. I’m not one of those people.
- Located at 82758 Overseas Highway, MM 82, Islamorada, FL 33036, 305-853-9728
Otherside Boardsports is a unique company focusing on all types of water sports. Their storefront serves primarily as a retail source and demo center with a family-oriented atmosphere. Staffed by a highly knowledgeable team, they specialize in kiteboarding, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, skating, stand-up paddling and water apparel.
We didn’t just eat, we visited
- 81904 Overseas Highway, MM 81.9, Islamorada, FL 33037, 305-981-6424
Michelle Lowe’s gallery contains original paintings, prints and gifts including clothing items, stylized smartphone cases and more. A native South Florida resident, Lowe spent her childhood snorkeling and fishing in the Florid Keys, hence her artistic focus on ocean life. After a successful stint in the corporate world, she has returned to the Keys to focus on her art.
Michelle was a wonderful hostess, she welcomed us in, told us about her background and let us explore her gallery. Her artwork was so colorful and vibrant. Besides art, she had a selection of clothing and jewelry. I loved one the pieces of jewelry SO much, she sold it to me off her neck. I do so love that necklace. Thank you Michelle ; )
Our first two days in Islamorada were packed full. We had an amazing time and I can’t thank those listed above enough! I’ll be sharing out my second two days in Key West soon!
Want to visit The Florida Keys? Of course you do! I know I’ll be going back and hopefully sooner rather than later!
- Florida Keys Visitor Website
- Florida Keys Facebook
- Florida Keys Twitter
- Florida Keys Instagram
- Florida Keys Feature Blog
Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Florida Keys Tourism Board, though received no compensation for my post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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