When you’re seeking an island adventure full of new experiences and excitement, look no further than Key Largo, Florida. Whether you want to swim with the dolphins, explore the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park from a glass-bottom boat, or enjoy lunch on the ocean floor, this island has it all. Your Key Largo vacation rental puts you in proximity to two of the island’s most prominent attractions: breathtaking sunsets and sugar-white beaches. Check out the top 10 things to do in Key Largo.
1. The African Queen
If you like classic movies, here’s your chance to hop aboard the iconic African Queen steamboat for a sightseeing cruise along the Key Largo canals to the ocean. It’s the same vessel used as a prop in “The African Queen,” the 1951 movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Constructed in 1912, it was a working vessel that carried people and freight across the upper parts of the Nile River and Lake Albert. It’s now privately owned and docked among the yachts along one of the canals. Check with the captain about opportunities to take the helm and blow the whistle.
2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
While checking off major Key Largo attractions you must see, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park belongs on the list. Established in 1963 to help preserve part of the only living coral reef in the continental United States, it is the first undersea park in the country. The park includes tropical plants, birds, and marine life, but most visitors come to see the living coral formations. Rainbow Reef Dive Center and Snorkel Key Largo are two off-site providers of diving and snorkeling tours of the park. They welcome beginners who can swim.
3. Jules’ Undersea Lodge
There’s no experience like enjoying a leisurely lunch on the ocean floor inside Jules’ Undersea Lodge. If you want pizza, just get one delivered by the SCUBA diving pizza-delivery guy. While you chow down, you get to watch sea life all around you just outside the round 42-inch windows. The lodge is available for lunches or three-hour adventures for an experience akin to being in outer space. Wearing diving gear, guests enter and exit the lodge through a pool in the wet room.
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4. Pilot House Marina, Restaurant and Glass Bottom Bar
The Pilot House is where you go for casual waterfront dining and fun for the entire family. More than 30 glass floor panels let you see fish and other underwater critters that hang out in the warm, tropical waters under the venue. More than a dozen large screen televisions let you watch sports and other shows on most nights, while live entertainers perform on other nights. For some impromptu entertainment, point out the floor-mounted feeding tubes to your kids. As they drop the fish food, you get to see their excitement grow with the feeding frenzies that ensue among the schools of fish. While you’re there, enjoy some dinner in a tiki hut and grab a couple of drinks at the bar.
5. Dolphins Plus
If your kids are age seven or older, let them swim with the dolphins and sea lions at Dolphins Plus. Kids enjoy the waist-deep water encounters in which trainers guide their interactions that include pets, handshakes, and kisses. Toddlers and others who prefer not to get into the water can get in on the dolphin kisses. Kissing candidates kneel on a platform, pucker up, kiss, and get a digital photo to keep. If your budding artists would rather paint, they choose some colors, hold the canvas, and watch a dolphin paint a masterpiece. Natural dolphin swims take place in a protected lagoon that is 10- to 15-feet deep. The dolphins choose when and how they want to interact with swimmers.
6. Garl’s Coastal Kayaking
Garl’s Coastal Kayaking features two tours. Beginning at Garl’s Key Largo site, the short tour explores Florida Bay via guided snorkeling and kayaking with guides who are trained biologists and naturalists. The Everglades back country excursion immerses you in the natural beauty of the wilderness. With your guides, you and your family explore ecosystems and view wildlife while kayaking and wading. The tours are unforgettable family-friendly experiences for young and old alike.
Located within minutes of your Key Largo vacation rental, EcoSail takes you on a sailboat tour through the bays of Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys. The captain narrates as you traverse the various ecosystems of the bays and mangroves. If you want to explore the mangroves more closely, your excursion includes kayaks, or bring along your snorkeling equipment. The company’s sailing vessels feature onboard showers for snorkelers.
8. Key Largo Parasail
Parasailing alone, double, or triple above the stunning Florida Bay gives you some amazing memories. Kids under age 14 must fly with adults, and observers can ride along when there’s room on the boat. You choose flights that last up to 10 minutes to get spectacular 25-mile views of Key Largo and the Atlantic Ocean. The crew reels flyers off the back of the boat to begin the flight and safely reels them back onto the flight deck at the end of the flight. If you want a dip in the water, just let the captain know.
9. Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat
The Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat lets you and your family check out the magical world beneath the ocean’s surface while you stay high and dry. The 280-square-foot viewing area shows off various sea creatures, schools of brightly colored fish, and the inhabitants of the exotic coral reefs that you cross. The comfy vessel is air-conditioned, and there is a snack bar where you can purchase drinks and snacks.
10. Jacob’s Aquatics Center
When you’re traveling with toddlers to teens, one of Key Largo’s fun family attractions is Jacob’s Aquatics Center. It’s a water park with three pools and a shallow splash feature for the little kids. One pool is a regular swimming pool. The diving pool features three diving boards, including one that is about 12-feet high. There is also a pool with swimming lanes. The little kids’ splash pool features a pirate ship in the middle. Little kids love the water spouts, slides, and water cannons. While the kids swim, dive, and splash, kick back and enjoy the shaded or sunny lounge chairs. The concession stand serves drinks, pizza, burgers, corn dogs, hot dogs, and snacks.
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