The southern tip of Key Largo is just far enough away to feel embraced by the Keys, but close enough for a weekend away.
By Jeff Kirkwood | April 23, 2021
Overview: With its safe-to-paddleboard canals, National Marine Sanctuary beach parks, sundowners and beach restos, Tavernier is a perfect spot for first-time Florida Keys visitors. At the southern tip of Key Largo, it’s just deep enough into the archipelago to feel the Keys vibe, without getting too far away from civilization and into a gator’s tummy.
Crowd: Fort Lauderdale residents are the main staple here, as Tavernier is more of a Floridian-in-the-know destination. Most of the Keys are still very rustic, with the exception of Key West, which has become quite touristy. It should be noted that the two-lane highways and resulting traffic are largely why the Floridian locals tend to not go too far south every weekend.
Agenda: Find one of the little houses on 10-foot columns by the water and just chill. Founders Park Beach in Islamorada is a great place to spend an afternoon. Be sure to bring a barbecue for all the lobster tails you will devour. The reefs are great for snorkeling, teeming with enormous grouper, prehistoric-looking angelfish and more. Bonus Tip: Embrace the kitsch! Just when you think you’ve seen enough see-through seashell-embedded Plexiglas toilet seats and manatee mailboxes, you haven’t.
Essential: Grab a snorkel, head to the canals, rent a paddleboard and explore the waterways until you find a manatee to swim with.