The Florida Keys – Our Last Day

The last sunset – Key Largo, Florida

If you do decide to go down to the Florida Keys for a visit, make sure that your trip doesn’t coincide with one of the summer holidays. We thought we had everything planned perfectly for our trip, but our last day on the water was July 3rd. Prior to July 3rd, we hadn’t dealt with real crowds anywhere – not on land and especially not on the water. All of that changed on July 3rd, when the Fourth-of-July crowd rolled into town.

The raucous party-hearty types actually began trickling into town late on July 2nd, but we didn’t have any interactions with them that night, so they were of minimal concern to us. However, that all changed early the next morning when they arrived in force and began to unwind just as soon as they parked their cars. With some effort we got our kayaks put into the water, then split up – Cindy went to hug the shoreline for her underwater video footage (which you can view below), and I went sailing further afield.

While things were beginning to turn into a wild booze-fueled party on shore, we were still very much alone out on the water… until about mid-morning, which is when chaos arrived in the form of a go-fast, plastic-fantastic, Cigarette boat – which exploded out of a narrow mangrove-lined channel and roared through the shallow bay at full throttle. Keep in mind that the posted speed was 10 mph and “No Wake”, and the water was very shallow outside of the marked channel – as the go-fast tossed huge waves behind it, completely ignored the channel markings, and proceeded to plow a deep furrow through the delicate ecosystem with it’s propellers.

That was just the start of the bedlam on the water, as more go-fast boats came blasting after the first one, and the shallow bay became one big wave-tossed bathtub full of ear-splitting noise and boat engine exhaust. We tried to continue doing our own thing for awhile, but it became evident that we might get run down and injured by the powerboats – so we cautiously retreated back to the resort, pulled the kayaks, and prepped for an early morning departure the next day.

We ended our evening by going to Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen for one last meal. Cindy chose the whole mangrove snapper (below) and maintains to this day that it was the finest seafood meal that she’s ever eaten.

Whole mangrove snapper at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen – Key Largo, Florida

So there you have it – visiting the Florida Keys through the eyes of two dedicated introverts. We didn’t party, or go to the trendy places, or hang out with crowds; instead, we kept to ourselves and – except for the last day – had an absolutely delightful time exploring the Keys by boat.

Photo info:
All photos taken with an Apple iPhone 5S
Video taken with a Sony waterproof digicam

The Florida Keys – Day 5

The Pelican – Key Largo, Florida

On our penultimate day in the Keys, we decided to move further back up the coast – both to get a head start for when we actually headed home, and also to see and experience new sights and eats. We left our wonderful suite at the Gulf View Waterfront Resort in Marathon, and switched it up for The Pelican cottages in Key Largo. Whoa. There was barely enough room for us to park, let alone with a long trailer and two kayaks. The cottages were perfectly fine, but the entire operation was extremely cramped and short on space all around. And it wasn’t just this place – all of the other rental places around us were equally cramped and short on real estate. However, they did have nice landscaping to make up for the lack of space.

Tropical blooms – Key Largo, Florida

As soon as we got checked in and settled, we worked to get out on the water. It was a challenge, but we got there eventually – and Cindy was able to see all sorts of new things underwater.

The underwater bounty – Key Largo, Florida

We had a great time out on the water, exploring amongst the mangroves and seeing completely new critters under the surface – but eventually the weather turned on us and we had to run for shore, due to a pop-up squall. Once we got the kayaks secured, we walked to the end of the resort driveway to one of the highest rated seafood eateries on Key Largo – Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen.

Dinner at Mrs. Mac’s – Key Largo, Florida

Mrs. Mac’s was everything the glowing reviews said it would be and then some. The food was absolutely superb. So much so that we ate every meal there during our stay in Key Largo. When we finally pushed ourselves away from the table, we strolled down to the end of the dock at the resort for one last photo of the day.

Last shot of the day – Key Largo, Florida

Photo info:
All photos taken with an Apple iPhone 5S
Video taken with a Sony waterproof digicam

The Florida Keys – Day 4

Sailing in the Atlantic – Bahia Honda Key, Florida

We went further afield on the fourth day of our visit, taking the kayaks with us down to Bahia Honda Key – which is one of the first places in Florida where we had tent camped together many years before. There we initially put both kayaks in the water, but it was too rough and windy for Cindy’s smaller kayak, so we pulled hers out and went on with just the bigger trimaran. Even then – compared to the mild and placid conditions on the Gulf side – we were really tossed about in the much rougher sea state of the Atlantic. We sailed up and down the coastline, put into the beach when we tired of the constant thrashing we were receiving, then sailed in the Atlantic some more, before finally deciding that we’d taken enough of a beating and headed back to the launch ramp for the day.

Cindy’s video doesn’t show it, but our sailing trimaran caught the interest of two no-nonsense border patrol officers, and they really gave us and the big kayak a lengthy and detailed examination, peppered throughout with lots of questions. Not ever having received that kind of attention from law enforcement before, I was a bit concerned about all of the focus we were getting from them – but they eventually were satisfied and moved on with their patrolling.

We didn’t take much in the way of photos on this day, simply because the conditions were so rough on the Atlantic side.

Photo info:
Video taken with a Sony waterproof digicam