Islamorada (MM 85) is one of the most popular spots in the Keys. It’s not call a "Key," because it’s actually made up of six different islands including Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Plantation Key, Windley Key and two offshore islands: Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key. Islamorada has a reputation as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, and it's well-earned. Here you'll find several extremely skilled recreational fishing captains. Islamorada is also known as a place where you can swim with dolphins, enjoy the History of Diving Museum, feed tarpon, get married, and have your honeymoon. As you’ll find along any of the Florida Keys
, there are many places to have a drink, enjoy the warm tropical breeze and listen to a local band.
Things to do in Islamorada
Islamorada is a top destination for people looking for things to do in Florida
. Whether it's fishing
, diving, snorkeling, or just hanging out at the beach and swimming with friends, there are many great things to do when you’re visiting Islamorada. There are bars, shops, museums, art centers and fabulous fresh seafood. Speaking of seafood--the fishing both on- and off-shore is awesome! This may be the only place where you can catch a sailfish offshore in the morning and then go into the backcountry and jump a tarpon, snook, redfish or bonefish later that same day. Whether you’re looking for something to eat or just something to brag about, chances are you’ll catch it here. Another favorite thing to do here is to visit the Theater of the Sea Marine Mammal Park
, where you can swim with dolphins, sea lions and string rays in the saltwater lagoons. You can also celebrate a birthday or get married at the Marine Mammal Park, which is open year round and has many entertaining and educational programs.
, where they sell bait for feeding swarms of tarpon that hang around the docks, is popular with locals and visitors alike. This is also the hub for marine activities. Go on one of their tours, rent a boat for yourself, or hire a guide to take you backcountry or patch reef fishing. You can even rent a house boat, for a week in the Keys like you’ve never had. When you’re done for the day, head on in to the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant
, enjoy one of their wonderful Key-style meals, or bring what you’ve caught and they’ll cook it up for you any way you like.
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, located on the ocean side of Islamorada, is the place where you’ll find the locals all anchored up on the sand bar having a weekend-long bash. Literally hundreds of boats gather here, from as far away as Miami to the north and Key West
to the south – talk about a party!
Places to Eat in Islamorada
After a day of fishing, shopping
, swimming with dolphins or just hanging out, the sun starts to set and the stomach starts to growl. Good thing there are so many wonderful places to get a great meal. In addition to the Hungry Tarpon, described above, there are other great places to quell that rumbling tummy.
The Islamorada Fish Company
started as a marina snack bar in the late 1940s, and took advantage of the fresh seafood caught every day to build its reputation and popularity with seafood lovers. While enjoying a dinner of the best fresh fish, crabs and lobster that these waters have to offer, you can watch the boats come to the docks and the guys unload their catches.
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overlooks the Florida Bay. Its gourmet dining can be enjoyed indoors or out. They specialize in seafood, but offer cooked-to-perfection steaks and an extensive wine list. They have group areas and host weddings on the grounds. View Website »
Located at MM 90.3, the Old Tavernier Restaurant
is a local favorite. For more than 20 years they've served fresh local seafood (of course), along with Greek and Italian specialties that include steaks, chicken, lamb. They invite you to "stop on by" and see why the locals can’t get enough.View Website »
(MM 85.5) is a small resort and marina with a quaint little bar and restaurant. It faces the Snake Creek drawbridge, where the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf meet. Here in these pristine waters you can watch the boats as you enjoy fresh seafood, chicken, steak, fruity drinks, and cool breezes. Smuggler Cove is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. View Website »
Holiday Isle Beach Resort and Marina
(MM 84.5) have several noteworthy bars and restaurants, including the World Famous Tiki Bar
, which claims to be the birthplace of the original frozen rumrunner cocktail. Laid back during the daytime, the bar has nighttime entertainment six nights a week during the season.
Kokomos Beach Bar
is steps from the beach and, as it says in the Beach Boys song, “that’s where you want to go to get away from it all.” At Kokomos you can drink and dance to live music on the weekends, with your toes in the sand.
Floaters Pool Bar
, right by the pool, is the place to get a topper or "floater" added to your favorite frozen drink. They have a full liquor bar and creative bartenders who do things with flare.
The Wreck Bar
, on the Oceanside, is a ship-shaped bar open for lunch. Think outdoor BBQ grill picnic-style food with picnic tables, or take your lunch back to your towel and eat on the beach.
The Raw Bar
, also on the ocean, serves fried or grilled fish sandwiches and a selection of raw oysters, stone crab claws in season, peel-and-eat shrimp, conch chowder and other local favorites. The Raw Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; you can eat picnic-style or on the beach.
In the marina, Mickey Rats
opens in the afternoon when the fleet comes in with the day's catch. If you want to get the local flavor, here is where you’ll find it. Sit, eat and listen as the captains and their crews relive the excitement of fishing
in the great waters of the Florida Keys.
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Yes, Islamorada is a favorite stop--and in a place like the Keys, that’s saying something. If you like to fish, you can literally stop and drop a line in the water almost anywhere. You can get up close and personal with sea animals, snorkel, dive, fish inland or offshore, eat, drink and be suntanned. No doubt Islamorada has earned both the monikers "Sport Fishing Capital of the World" and "favorite spot in the Keys."
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com