Ahhh – the Florida Keys are just one of those places that has its own unique feel. When you’re there, you get the sense that everything runs on “Keys’ time.” It’s laid back and bohemian atmosphere makes it one of those popular destinations for just getting away from it all. It has world class scuba diving and fishing as well. There are many ways to experience this part of the state but we chose a bicycle journey through the Florida Keys.
We decided to experience it up close and personal by bike riding all the way from Key Largo in the northern section of the Keys to Key West, the southern-most point of the Keys and in the contiguous United States.
We did the 90-mile Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, which is flat and paved and about half of it is a dedicated path for joggers/bikers and the other half is basically the shoulder of the road when you cross over the bridges (more on that to come).
The first day we set our sights on riding from Key Largo to Marathon – about 45 miles. Our luggage was being transported for us to our next hotel. The headwind was blowing a little more than usual that day so we had to push a little harder. Thankfully, the crew at Key Largo Bike and Adventure Tours were following us in a van just in case our legs could not push any more. One of our scheduled breaks along the trail today was stopping at Robbie’s in Islamorada, a popular marina with a restaurant where you can feed the tarpon fish.
During my feeding, a hungry pelican decided to intervene and some fun ensued. Back on the bikes we peddled on, making our way into Marathon, our destination for the evening.
The next morning after breakfast we visited the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.
Most of the patients are in there because of pollution (ingesting plastic garbage bags etc.), fishing lines and/or getting clipped by boats. When they are well again, they get released back into the wild.
Back on our bikes again we had a daunting feat ahead of us: The Seven Mile Bridge. Just in case anybody needs clarification, it’s a bridge that connects two of the Keys and it is seven-miles long. It’s the only road that gets you down to Key West or vice versa.
Our mission was to navigate the five-foot shoulder on our bikes. It was a combination of nerve racking and exhilarating. The cars and trucks whiz by as you stay totally focused on riding your bike over this glorious bridge.
I have to say, it went faster than I thought it would and we were all so proud of ourselves after we crossed over it. We took a break and there were high fives and jubilation! The pay-off was well worth it as the next Key we rode through was Big Pine Key where literally hundreds of Key Deer roam around. They are the smallest race of deer in North America. They seemed to be cheering us on as we rode the final stretch into Key West, celebrating our wonderful two days of bike riding at the iconic Mile-Marker 0 Sign of HWY 1.
A lot of people come to Key West to party and miss the rich history that it offers. We took a two-hour walking tour on our last day around Key West, which included sites such as the Ernest Hemingway House, the Truman Little White House, Sloppy Joe’s, and the Custom House.
In between all our bike riding throughout the Keys, we even took time to do a wonderful kayak ride through the mangroves with Paddle the Florida Keys. The best part was when we jumped off our kayaks into the refreshing cool water and frolicked for a bit. The manatees were all around this area that day which added to the excitement and wonder.