The Florida Keys IslandsFlorida Keys
Even though the Keys chain of islands started alongside Miami with the island of Key Biscayne, "The Florida Keys” is a term which generally applies to the 100 mile stretch of islands among the world’s 3rd largest barrier reef. Tied together and made easily accessible via the Overseas Highway, five areas have the largest land masses: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West. Here you’ll find some of the best Florida luxury resorts and Florida Keys vacation homes.
There are thousands of tiny inlets to explore by boat, jet ski – or in some cases even a short swim. There are many unique, distinctive plant and animal species here, both native and imported, and the waters surrounding the Keys are all part of a protected area called the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Here you'll find incredible marine resources including more than 6,000 species of marine life. The sanctuary also protects pieces of our nation’s history such as shipwrecks and other archeological treasures.
The islands from Key Largo southward are those which people typically think of when contemplating ownership of a luxury homes for sale in the Florida Keys. This is truly a tropical paradise with a lively Caribbean vibe which attracts people of all ages for vacations or as a permanent residence. You might call it Florida’s best-kept secret, considering that the entire archipelago of the Florida Keys from the mainland to the tip of Key West has fewer than 100,000 total residents – even if you include tourists in the total. When it comes to finding retirement communities Florida Keys, there are plenty of gated communities in any budget to consider.
MORE ABOUT THE FLORIDA KEYS
Tourism including ecotourism, diving and fishing are the primary industries throughout the Keys, and life here is typically spent on and in the water. Swim with dolphins at the Theatre of the Sea; or at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park there join a guided trip to the reef for snorkeling, diving and kayaking. Sailing, exploring the acres of mangroves and coral reefs, and watching the area’s incredible sunrises and sunsets are also wonderful ways to spend time with family and friends.
Although most residents of this region get around by boat or in privately-owned automobiles, it is surprisingly easy to get around down here. There is public bus transportation throughout the entire length of the Keys along Highway US 1.
The best places to live in the Florida Keys include:
KEY LARGO (Mile Marker 108-90) - Popular as a tourist destination yet amazingly uncluttered by the typical tourist attractions, Key Large is the closest to the mainland and part of which is known as Tavernier. This self-titled "Diving Capital of the World" sports a living coral reef just a few miles offshore which attracts countless divers and fishermen. Wildlife can be found here in abundance, inside and out of the island's three state parks: the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Everglades National Park and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. There are also two sanctuaries: the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
ISLAMORADA (Mile Marker 90-70) — The name Islamorada means "purple island" and Islamorada is considered the Sport Fishing Capital of the Florida Keys. The fishing village on Upper Matacumbe Key is comprised of six small islands situated halfway between Miami and Key West. If you’re looking to invest in Upper Keys where folks come for sport fishing, you’ll find plenty of investment properties here and some of the best Florida luxury resorts such as the Cheeca Lodge and The Moorings Village. Here you’ll find fantastic restaurants, tiki bars, shell shops and sandbars which can be reached by boat.
MARATHON/KEY COLONY (Mile Marker 70-35) - If you prefer fewer tourists and more locals, Marathon is a good choice, especially at Key Colony beach which has the only secluded natural white sandy beach in the Florida Keys. The friendly neighborhood holds charming older and smaller single-family homes on deep water as well as low-rise condos - all within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the perfect place to look for more affordable Florida Keys vacation homes. Sport fishing is big business in Marathon, and you can catch charter fishing boats at local marinas every morning whether you want to fish the the Gulf or the Atlantic. Diving, snorkeling, spearfishing, and lobster-tickling are also popular activities here. The Florida Keys Marathon Airport is here, and so is the Fisherman's Hospital, one of only three hospitals in the Keys. Marathon is located just north of the Seven Mile Bridge.
BIG PINE KEY (Mile Marker 35-25) Big Pine Key is a great place to find the perfect luxury homes for sale in the Florida Keys. The area is quieter than the Upper Keys and refuge for the endangered Key Deer. These lovely creatures are often spotted early in the morning or at sunset here. One of the more remote locations at the southern end of the Florida Keys, the island has a popular fishing lodge on the southeast side. Ample opportunities for shopping may be found here, as well as a branch of the Monroe County Library, where residents can enjoy free Wi-Fi Internet access.
KEY WEST (Mile Marker 25-0) - Key West, the southernmost point in the contiguous United States, possesses a unique charm which makes it an ideal location for the best Florida luxury resorts. Writers like Ernest Hemingway are drawn to Key West for its quirky character and intensely creative vibe, but for ordinary souls just seeking to enjoy the day, historical museums and homes await, as do tantalizing restaurants and fun bars with entertainment of all sorts. Although it is more well-known as a cruise ship port, the island does have an international airport with convenient daily service through several major airlines. A ferry is also available, which takes riders along the western edge of Florida Bay from Key West to Fort Myers. Many of the homes here are built upon stilts with garages on the first floor. There are hidden neighborhoods all around the island which you may not even know exist, and properties range from modestly-priced and small older houses and bungalows to high-end waterfront residences including gated communities with first class amenities.
If you’re searching for a laid-back environment where it’s warm year-round, here's more reasons to consider looking at luxury homes for sale in the Florida Keys:
ARTS AND CULTURE
A non-profit local arts agency exists to serve all of Monroe County from Key Largo to Key West. The Florida Keys Council of the Arts provides access for audiences from around the world as well as assistance in development and management of cultural activities & venues ranging from festivals, galleries and museums to music & dance, theaters and their associated productions, and more. Whether it is visual and performing artists, supporting arts organizations, eager students or the general public: the Florida Keys are alive with passion for and participation in the arts.
The Florida Keys tropical climate has two distinct "seasons" which may be described as hot, wet, and humid from about June through October; then drier and cooler from November through May. Often described as the American Caribbean, the weather here is usually beautiful and sunny all the year round with moderate temperatures kept cool by tropical breezes which also blow off the quickly passing showers that typically don't last all day long like the fronts experienced up north. From a reasonable low of around 60 degrees midwinter to a high of about 90 degrees in the summer, Florida Keys vacation homes are the closest you can live to the equator while still being within the US. Hurricanes and temporary flooding are the biggest weather threat.
LIFELONG LEARNING CENTERS
Monroe County Public Schools has adult education and offers many courses online as well as in various locations throughout the Keys. For those seeking degrees, Florida Keys Community College in Key West is an open-access educational institution which offers continuing education to prepare students for personal success and responsible citizenship. The Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key is a unique education and research facility. More than half of the animals there were born at the Center, while the others have come from other facilities or were rescued and rehabilitated but for varying reasons the government deemed them to be unfit for release back into the wild. The Keys Marine Laboratory on Long Key is a full-service marine research and education center serving undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and researchers from the state, national and international scientific communities.
MEDICAL AND HEALTH CARE
The Upper keys are served by the Mariner's Hospital in Tavernier, which is run by Baptist Health and has a sleep diagnostic center. The Middle Keys rely upon community-owned Fisherman's Hospital in Marathon - a facility that has been operational for half a century. The Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, as its name suggests, takes care of the southern portion of the island chain. A more advanced hospital; this is a quality place to go for acute care including emergency, labor & delivery, physical therapy and cardio.
Due to its status as an archipelago, the Florida Keys are ideally situated to support and promote a number of water sports: professional or amateur fishing and boating top the list, with a seemingly endless stream of tournaments and races taking place here. Jet skis, kiteboarding, windsurfing, diving and swimming are also popular activities throughout the region as well as quiet, passive pastimes such as bird-watching and other wildlife-related viewing expeditions. You’ll find power boat races, marathons and sports fishing competitions year round.
SHOPPING AND DINING
Key West and Islamorada hold the most significant choices for shopping and dining, but there are a few notable exceptions such as Key Largo's Fish House, and who could forget the Caribbean Club, famous for the scenes shot there featuring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Locals and tourists alike flock to the Sunset Grille & Raw Bar in Marathon for a great place to watch the sunset. The oceanfront venue lies perched at the foot of Historic 7 Mile Bridge where its thatched south seas tiki hut and large oceanfront deck surround one of the largest swimming pools in the Keys. For brand label shopping, The Florida Keys Outlet Center has more than 40 well known stores to shop from.
HOME AFFORDABILITY AND TAXES
The average price of homes in Monroe County is $565,000. The estimated property tax millage rate is $.0101 per $100 of assessed value. Visit our library to find help and to learn how to calculate property taxes. We find a number of gated communities of interest that could be not only excellent second or vacation home communities but also year round Florida Keys retirement communities. Many have marinas, resort amenities and in-house rental programs.
Ask us for free Florida Keys relocation information to learn more about the area.