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first time trip

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Mobile AL
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first time trip

I'm beginning to explore a trip for the summer. We were in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and traveled to the south for snorkeling last summer. The best vacation of my life. Hubby doesn't want to leave the country this summer. I started looking at Key West, then saw references to Key Largo as a great snorkeling spot. We also love the idea of kayaking and seeing other wildlife. We would love any advice about how the Key's compare to the Yucatan as far as beaches and snorkeling. We like a little nightlife, but don't enjoy the touristy commercial areas. We enjoy doing what the locals do.

Key Colony Beach...
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1. Re: first time trip

They keys have really good diving and snorkeling.

The Yucatan has MUCH better beaches.

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2. Re: first time trip

Have to agree with the last post, as far as beaches go, The Keys are NOT known for their beaches. They are usually man made, and when you get in the water it isn't usually sandy (rocks or plants). But the diving and snorkeling on the reefs is really beautiful.

If you want to stop in Key Largo, stay two nights in Key Largo and go to Pennekamp Park (http://www.pennekamppark.com/ ) to do some diving,snorkeling or kayaking. Then go onto Key West. Dry Tortugas down off Key West, would be another nice day trip out of Key West.

There really isn't much of a large nightlife in Key Largo. In Key West you can walk down Duval street, lots of restaurants, bars, shops still open late at night.

Another idea for wildlife watching is The Everglades National Park. There are many links on the net for it. It is west of Homestead, FL. You can walk around their visitor center or even take an airboat ride through the glades.

FYI, as you probably already know, June - November is Hurricane season. And June through October is really hot and humid.

I hope this helps.

Mobile AL
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3. Re: first time trip

Thanks for the help. I like to find out what other people have tried and enjoyed.

Melbourne, Florida
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4. Re: first time trip

I love the keys & we go every year at least once. Went to Cancun & loved it. The snorkeling, beaches and water are so great there. However I like the keys for it's own beauty , interesting things to do.

I always tell everyone to go to the keys chamber of commerce web site & request an info packet. They will send you a booklet with info, a map (in the booklet) and brochures on things you are interested in. That will give you a starting point to planning. You may want to stay in Islamorada or Marathon & take day trips from there. Then you are central to Key West & Key Largo.

Check out Key Colony Beach realty website for 1/2 duplexes in a nice community near Marathon.

Key Largo, Florida
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5. Re: first time trip

I looked at the Yucatan to buy a vacation home and then looked at Key Largo, making my choice of KL back in 1995. I have never regretted buying in Key Largo. While we basically do not have beaches here, we make up for it in other awesome activities. Everglades National Park runs along the entire northers part of the Keys. While many folks opt for touring it by water, I prefer driving to Florida City (the mainland) and west to the park entrance on the land. The Rangers are only too happy to answer questions about the habitat and the wildlife. You can see alligators right there. You can see wild orchids and airplants. It is a really special place in the US.

As far as here in Key Largo, diving and fishing are the main activities. The reef here is absolutely spectacular. You can snorkle as well as dive and still see awesome tropical fish. Day and night dives are offered.

If you rent a kayak, you can paddle around in the mangroves of John Pennekamp Park. You will see a variety of birds and maybe even a manatee if it is during the winter months.

As far as the other kind of wild life, Key Largo is a bit sleepy. Most partiers and spring breakers drive another 100 miles down to Key West. Coconuts has dancing. Quite a few bars have live bands and lively conversation on every night of the week. That's it. Don't expect a South-Beach style club here. In Cancun, most discos and clubs don't open until 10pm and don't really get hopping until after midnight. Well, here in Key Largo, everything closes pretty early (restaurants 9-9:30pm) and I think only Caribbean Club and Paradise Pub are open past midnight.

The Yucatan is extremely different in every aspect. I think it has gotten progressively more expensive (been going there regularly since 1985) year by year because American tourists pay it. Food and drink in Key Largo are a fraction of Cancun prices. Hotels are also more reasonable in Key Largo. While Cancun has all the malls and most major brand names, Key Largo has K-Mart and a Bealls Outlet. If you want great shopping, it is a 1 hour drive to Miami.

Each of the Keys has something different to offer. If you have a week, you might plan for 2 nights in Key Largo, and then 2 or 3 nights in Key West and then back to Key Largo for a couple nights. I think that would prevent any boredom!

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6. Re: first time trip

I just returned from a week in the Keys with my teenage son. The prettiest beach in the Keys is Bahia Honda State Park located just south of Marathon. They have real sand, snorkeling equipment rental on site so you can snorkel right off the beach and they have snorkel trips out to Looe Key Sanctuary twice daily. We picked up food in Marathon and had an awesome sunset picnic on the beach! We stayed in Key Largo and did dive/snorkeling with Silent World. They are GREAT! The drive to Bahia Honda is 1.5 hours from Key Largo but well worth it and we did other things along the way like visit the Dolphin Reserch Center and the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. Also, recommend sailing on the Morning Star in Key Largo. The captain only takes 6 people out at a time and it is very nice. We did the sunset sail.

7. Re: first time trip

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