With new flights into southern Florida, a laid-back getaway in the colourful Florida Keys has never been more accessible for UK travellers.
Less than a two-hour drive from international airports in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the Florida Keys offer almost year-round sunshine, one of the world's most iconic road trips, and a huge range of water-based fun, including snorkelling and diving, sport fishing and after-dark excursions by clear-bottom LED illuminated kayaks and paddleboards.
Now with four new flight services and more accommodation choices, it is easier than ever to get to and enjoy the subtropical island destination. Just exit the airport and head south for the Florida Keys Overseas Highway! Fort Lauderdale - Key Largo: Less than 95 miles and about two hours: With an upcoming new route launch from British Airways (BA) and increased flight capacity from Norwegian, customers keen to travel to the Keys from London Gatwick (LGW) now have more flight choices. Low-cost carrier Norwegian has scaled-up its service to Fort Lauderdale from one to three times a week and operates year-round with one-way fares from just £159 per person; while BA is to begin a new service to Fort Lauderdale on 6 July. Priced from £189 one-way, the route will operate four times a week during peak summer before switching to three times a week for the remainder of the year.
Miami to Key Largo: Less than 65 miles and about 75 minutes: Adding to the increased flexibility in flight routes to southern Florida, WOW air is set to launch a three-times-a-week service from London Heathrow to Miami via Reykjavik on 5 April, with one-way fares from £119 - and starting on 1 September, Irish holidaymakers can take advantage of the first ever direct service from Dublin to Miami. Operated by Aer Lingus three times a week, prices begin at €299 one-way.
Stay in the Keys' newest resorts: Since 2014, 13 new properties have been added to the Keys' accommodation offerings, with seven debuting in the last nine months, and two more set to open before summer. In addition, nine properties have undergone significant renovations and rebranding.
In Key Largo, the most northerly region in the island chain, visitors will soon have a choice of three new properties. The most notable launch was last summer's opening of The Playa Largo Resort & Spa (playalargoresort.com) as Key Largo's first new hotel in 21 years; while last autumn, Largo, a private sanctuary (largoresort.com) opened as an eco-friendly lodge-style hideaway surrounded by indigenous foliage. In summer 2017, the trio of new Key Largo properties will be complete when Dolphin Point Villas (dolphinpointvillas.com) - slated to launch on 1 June - opens with villa homes accommodating up to 100 guests.
Heading south via the Overseas Highway, families and groups of friends can enjoy new three-bedroom waterfront villas at Little Basin Villas (littlebasinvillas.com) which opened in Islamorada's Arts District last summer.
At the southernmost tip of the Keys, the island city of Key West is also experiencing growth in its accommodation portfolio. Several months ago, Oceans Edge Key West Hotel & Marina (oceansedgekeywest.com) opened on Stock Island with 175 spacious suites set over 20 acres. This will soon be joined by a luxurious wharf style property, The Perry Hotel Key West at Stock Island Marina (perrykeywest.com).
Finally, in central Key West, 22-room suite-only H2O Suites Hotel (h2osuites.com) is the ideal choice for holidaymakers looking for stylish boutique luxury, with many rooms boasting private plunge pools.
Five things you should not miss in the Florida Keys:
1) Snorkel, scuba or view by glass-bottom boat a portion of the third largest coral barrier reef in the world at Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
2) 'Hook and cook 'em" on a fishing trip in Islamorada - the 'Sportfishing Capital of the World'
3) Meet local marine life in Marathon at the Dolphin Research Center, The Turtle Hospital and Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters - great fun for all the family!
4) Explore mangrove habitats and spot Key deer on an eco-kayaking tour through the backcountry of Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys
5) Experience Mallory Square's sunset celebration before partying the night away on Duval Street in fun-loving Key West
Travel to the Florida Keys: Purely America (0844 80 444 80, purelyamerica.co.uk) has seven nights in the Florida Keys from £1,359 per person. Departing on 9 October 2017, the price includes four nights in Key Largo followed by three nights in Key West, together with return Norwegian flights from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale and compact car hire for the duration. Based on two adults travelling and sharing room only accommodation in newly opened properties.
Key Largo's first new hotel in 21 years - Playa Largo Resort
Discover Stock Island near Key West on a stay at The Perry Hotel Key West
Little Basin Villas, Islamorada - great for larger groups of friends and multi-generational families
Suite-only boutique property, H2O Suites, in Key West
Eco-friendly lodge-style hideaway Largo Resort in Key Largo