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Travel guide to Florida Keys

90 miles to Cuba

After spending good time in Miami and Miami Beach we drove ahead to south, to Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are an archipelago of about 1700 islands in the extreme southeast of the United States. The Keys extend from the southeastern Florida peninsula near Miami, run south and then curve west to Key West. The islands lie in the Florida Straits, dividing the Atlantic Ocean to the east from the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and creating Florida Bay.

As we started driving in the afternoon, we had to find a good accommodation right a way. We also had a plan to go for snorkeling for first time. Snorkeling or diving near Florida Keys is very interesting because Caribbean has rich underwater life. We were very lucky finding Tropic Vista motel in Key Largo. The motel personnel also offered a possibility to go to the snorkeling-diving trip next morning. Key Largo is one of the largest of Florida Key islands. Key Largo is a popular tourist destination and calls itself the "Diving Capital of the World".

We had a perfect dinner in seafood restaurant Harbor Inn. Again, served crabs, shrimps and octopuses were much bigger than we have use to. Next morning we woke up early and went to the yacht, where were other snorkelers and scuba divers also. We were given the snorkeling equipment and during the trip to diving place we had a breakfast. The snorkeling and diving place was near the corals. The sea life here in Caribbean is very rich. For all of us the overall experience was very positive and also it remains as the most memorable day from that trip. We did snorkel couple of hours and between dives we just sunbathed. It felt so good after rainy and cool summer in Estonia to have warm sun. Although coming back from ocean trip we realized that we have overacted with sunbathing, all of us had some parts sunburned, but this did not lessen the extraordinary experience we got.

We drove further on Florida Keys, crossed the Seven Mile Bridge. The Seven Mile Bridge runs over a channel between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Strait in Florida Keys. The Bridge connects Key Vaca in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Seven Mile Bridge was one of the longest bridges in existence when it was built. It is one of the many bridges on US1 in the Keys.

US1 highway took us to the Key West, the southernmost island in Florida Keys. Here, at the end of US highway number 1, is the southernmost point of continental USA, the southern tip of Key West which is just 90 miles or 145 km from Cuba.

Key West is a seaport destination for many passenger cruise ships. Many hotels and guest houses are available for lodging, also lot of restaurants offer a choice of indoor or outdoor dining. Key West was actually full of tourists hanging around and therefore did not impress us much. We had a light lunch in Hard Rock Café, did some shopping and visited former house of Ernest Hemingway. This house was his first American home. In this house Ernest Hemingway he lived for many years and wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. For the night we already drove back towards Miami and found excellent motel at one of the lower Keys, where double bedroom accommodation was available for just $45.