Orlando Magazine

Best Beaches in Florida: Islamorada


As the sun sets, a Florida Keys bonefish guide, right. points his angler to a bonefish on fly tackle off Islamorada in the Florida Keys. More than 200 International Game Fish Association saltwater world records have been set in the Florida Keys. (Photo by Bob Krist/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Islamorada, also known as the ‘Purple Isle’, comprises an archipelago boasting several captivating beaches. Islamorada was a significant hub for the wrecking industry during the 19th century. Positioned amid the saltwater wilderness of the Everglades National Park and the cerulean depths of the Florida Strait, Islamorada is an ensemble of six islands, including Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, and the offshore islands of Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key.

It’s here in Islamorada, a village brimming with islands, where you’ll likely find the most densely concentrated population of professional offshore and backcountry charter boats steered by tournament-grade captains worldwide. Here, the art of backcountry sport fishing and saltwater fly fishing were born. Following the legendary fishing traditions set by the likes of Ted Williams, Jimmy Albright, and Cecil Keith, an army of expert recreational fishing guides practice their craft.

Islamorada is perhaps the only place globally where one could reel in a sailfish offshore, then seek out bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, and redfish in the shallow backcountry waters, all within a day’s time. Yet, Islamorada’s charm isn’t solely anchored in its title as the sport fishing capital of the world.

Indian Key Historic State Park, located off Islamorada, Fla., is accessible only by boat or kayak.. Visitors to this 11-acre island can view the remains of a wrecking, or shipwreck salvage, community from the 1830s. There are also several hundred yards of well-maintained trails that line the interior of the island. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

Travelers taking group tours through the Florida Keys, from multi-generational families to hobby groups, are bound to discover distinctive experiences appealing to a diverse range of interests. The region is a hotspot for divers, who are drawn by the unique reef line and the lush patch reefs. The History of Diving Museum further fuels their fascination.

Spanning 125 miles, the Florida Keys Island chain houses the only living-coral barrier reef in the continental United States. This vibrant marine life epicenter, situated approximately five miles offshore, extends the length of the Keys. Here, scuba diving explorers create lifelong memories among coral formations teeming with a myriad of fish species, including large schools of blue-striped grunts and the formidable green moray eels. In a bid to safeguard this precious marine habitat, the U.S. government has declared the Florida Keys a National Marine Sanctuary.

Orlando magazine’s dedicated editorial team is taking the guesswork out of your next beach day! This chart will show you the best Islamorada’s amenities to fit your needs. 

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