Islamorada Eco-Tours and Wildlife Displays
Islamorada is a gateway to one of the most varied watery wildernesses in America, and a playground for anyone interested in the environment, wildlife, and history. Climb onto an ecotour boat and head northwest into the fabled backcountry, a world of vast sea-grass beds and shallow tidal flats. Offshore waters are shared by marine life, tropical fish, dolphins, manatees, crocodiles and roseate spoonbills.
Some tour operators offer excursions further to Flamingo, a national park outpost situated where the Everglades spill into Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. Tours, kayaks and canoe rentals are easily accessible from marinas, resorts, and parks along U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway, all available for rent or you can hire a tour guide to accompany you.
Tiny Lignumvitae Key, home to Lignumvitae State Park and Botanical Site, is a fascinating stop for paddlers or boaters who want to stroll through a tropical forest thriving atop the remains of an ancient coral reef. The island bearing its name lies just a mile from U.S. 1 on the bay side. This raised patch of land, called a hammock, tops out at just 18-feet above sea level yet it is the highest point in the Keys. That might be why early 2Oth century settlers called it home. Today, you can still visit the Matheson House, built in 1919.
Indian Key on the Atlantic Ocean side of Islamorada is another site reachable only by private boat or tour. To walk on this island is to walk where Native Americans walked for thousands of years. In the 1830s, a Staten Island businessman set up an outpost here to salvage cargo from ships stranded on the nearby reef. Success was short lived for the settlers. In the early morning of August 7, 1840, a band of Indians attacked them. Some settlers survived by hiding in a turtle kraal, a pen used to raise sea turtles for food. Today, the island is home to Indian Key State Historic Site.
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