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No swell? No problem. Dirtbag Darling's Aquatic Explorer Guide to the Florida Keys

Dirtbag Darling jumps into Florida waters. 

Surfers worth their salty swell maps know that glassy peaks don't usually intermission upon the shores of the Florida Keys isle chain. Don't allow that halt yous from crossing the Overseas Highway in addition to expanding your watercraft repertoire inward clear sea bliss.

Our friend, Johnie Gall of the weblog Dirtbag Darling late took a trip to the Florida Keys in addition to shared her favorite outdoor activities that are in addition to hence fun that yous won't live on missing your surfboard. 

Swampland inward Florida. All photos courtesy of Johnie Gall.

By Johnie Gall of Dirtbag Darling 

Let’s expression upward it: surfers don’t flock to the Florida Keys because, well, chances are perfect peelers won’t live on waiting for yous off the southernmost tip of the state. What yous create become for is seafood in addition to hence fresh it nonetheless smells similar the tabular array salt H2O yous plucked it from. You become to sideslip nether the surface in addition to swim amongst pods of dolphin in addition to fish that dwarf VW vans. You become to reset your sentinel to isle fourth dimension without the trip through customs—and isn’t that worth the drive?

Here are my overstep picks for what to create inward the Florida Keys:

Fresh catch!

Bait your ain hook

Never say no to a run a peril to become fishing. It’s a non bad house to larn close the regulations that receive got been spot inward house to protect sea life in addition to foreclose overfishing. And there’s cipher quite similar pulling your dinner direct from the sea, learning how to fillet a fish, in addition to recycling the leftovers when yous acquire out dock the adjacent day.

Dive in

Charter a boat for the twenty-four hr menstruum to ane of the many protected reefs off the coast of the Keys. Looe Key Marine Sanctuary is abode to Angelfish, Moray eel, Barracuda, Sergeant Major, in addition to a few species of shark in addition to ray. Stay nether the surface long plenty in addition to yous tin notice cuttlefish, sea turtles, in addition to fifty-fifty dolphins. During ane trip, I grabbed the ladder to the boat in addition to started to hoist myself upward when I saw a Goliath grouper staring dorsum at me from the bottom of the boat—this fish was in all likelihood 400 pounds in addition to the same width equally our vessel!

Johnie explores underwater wearing the Hermosa. 

Stand Up Paddle Out

Sunset paddles are an incredible way to cruise the coastline in addition to sentinel sharks start to feed close the reefs or maybe—if you’re lucky—a manatee (they’re nicknamed the “Sea Cow”). If the H2O is calm enough, rent a SUP board for the twenty-four hr menstruum from Paddle! The Florida Keys—they deliver for costless betwixt mile markers fourscore in addition to 100. You tin also opt for the Eco-Tour from Key Largo—it’s interesting to listen close the history of the Florida Bay equally yous paddle along.

Catch Some Wind

One of my favorite things to create inward the Keys is windsurf—it’s a total trunk workout that volition acquire out yous amongst sore muscles yous didn’t fifty-fifty know yous had. Lifting the heavy canvas in addition to keeping your ease patch trying to disputation the canvas to grab the air current takes practice, but amongst a practiced instructor, you’ll live on able to carve through the H2O during your commencement lesson. The crystal-clear H2O in addition to warm temperatures are ideal for learning, too. Rent a set-up from Smathers Beach Club.

Under the sea. If in that location are always waves, they definitely surf 'em ameliorate than you.

Log fourth dimension on dry out land

In the early on morning, become for a hike at the National Key Deer Refuge (key deer are dog-sized whitetails, an endangered species that don’t similar anywhere else inward the world) in addition to Blue Hole. Key Largo plays host to the historic steamboat, the African Queen—if you’re a fan of Humphrey Bogart in addition to Katherine Hepburn, you’ll recognize it.

Immerse yourself inward the culture

Drive to Key West in addition to sense what I recall is the quintessential Keys experience: watching the street performers at the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Dock. It’s ane of the few places I’ve been where hundreds of people assemble simply to sentinel the Sun become down—but there’s plenty of reasons to acquire in that location earlier the ombre sunset: quaff kokosnoot H2O from a freshly cracked nut, endeavor deep-fried conch fritters in addition to grab a demo from Dominique the Cat Man, who has trained his cats to walk on tightropes in addition to confine through fire. Seriously, don’t acquire out without watching his eccentric functioning (“Go dorsum to your seat…stay where yous arreeeee!”). 

Take a stroll through the trees. 

Cultivate creativity

Key West is teaming amongst inventiveness in addition to is abode of some of the world’s best fine art galleries (don’t acquire out without a see to the Wyland Gallery) in addition to surf shops teeming amongst brands you’ve never heard of (we love Fury Surf Shack). It’s also the creative army camp of people similar Jimmy Buffett—this is the truthful abode of Margaritaville!—and fifty-fifty Ernest Hemingway. See if the estrus in addition to the sunshine spark something inward you, too. 

And if yous can…go surf!

Hurricane flavor tin convey impressive swells to Florida, in addition to hence yesteryear all means, savour them! 


Don't forget to construct it some R&R! Johnie wears the Hermosa. 

For to a greater extent than insider tips on traveling to the Florida Keys, cheque out creative somebody Letty Nowak's Guide to Florida Keys. 

To store the Hermosa inward Limestone adapt that Johnie is wearing, become here