The Lower Florida Keys has some of the best snorkeling and wildlife to be found anywhere. The State of Florida has created preservation areas called Sanctuary Marine Zones. There are 15 zones/area scattered around the lower keys. Most, if not all, of the best snorkeling sites are located in "Sanctuary Preservation Areas". Take a moment and visit a map of the zones.
Marine Life - Sun - Sailing
Marine Life - Sun - Sailing
There is so much to do in the Lower Keys, you can spend months out here visiting different anchorages to see the diverse wildlife. We have created two different itineraries for your review.
I suggest that you purchase "Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys" by Capt. Frank Papy. This is an excellent guide to the Keys.
Key West and West - Disappear off of the GridThis trip takes you out west to visit the Dry Tortugas National Park. The Tortugas are perhaps the least visited park and certainly the most remote. When you are out here, there are no services, no telephone, no internet. Just some of the most beautiful beaches and islands you will ever see.
Day 1 - Depart from Stock Island Marina, Key West and sail 30 miles west to the Marquesas. Enjoy the quiet and solitude here. The bay provides calm waters and a nice overnight anchorage. This is a national wildlife refuge, so leave no tracks.
Day 2 - Sail 44 miles further west to the Dry Tortugas. Leave early in the morning to arrive by mid afternoon. Beware of Rebecca Shoal on the way out. Go around the north end of Garden Key thru Southeast channel and anchor in the lee of Garden Key.
Day 3 - Go ashore on Garden Key and tour Fort Jefferson National Monument. This was originally built as a military fort during the Civil War for the Union forces. Subsequently it was converted to a prison which once housed infamous John Wilkes Booth assistant, Dr. Mudd. Keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to run back to Key West if necessary.
Day 4 - Sail back to the Marquesas and anchor overnight.
Day 5 - Sail to Key West with a day stop for superb snorkeling on the dive buoys on the reef. Get a slip inside or sail around the north end of Fleming Key and pick up a mooring on the east side.
Day 6 - Take the day off and enjoy Key West, or take a day sail for snorkeling at Sand Key Lighthouse, Eastern Dry Rocks, Western Dry Rocks, or Cottrell Key. Come back to Fleming Key for the night.
Day 7 - Arrive back at Stock Island Marina for your departure and afternoon flight home.
Key West and East - Stay on the grid.
Day 1 - Sail east from Stock Island Marina to Little Palm Island Resort (Munson Island). Little Palm Island Marina offers transient dockage at $7.50 per foot per night with a minimum of $350.00. They have a 5 star restaurant and hotel accommodations, priced similarly. This will be a culinary experience!!
Day 2 - Sail out to Looe’s Key. (6NM) Looe’s Key is a National Marine Sanctuary with great snorkeling and diving. The Reef is from 1 to 80 feet with a great wall for SCUBA. Tie up to one of the mooring balls placed there for your ease of use and also to protect the coral from dropping anchors. After a day of snorkeling, sail to Little Torch Key and spend the night just outside the marina. There are two good resturants to pick from in the area of Dolphin Marina, KiKi Sandbar & Grille, The Dining Room.
Day 3 - Sail east to Bahia Honda Key. Spend the
Day 4 - Sail east to Marathon. Anchor outside and dinghy in. To get into Boot Harbor you must wait for the drawbridge. Kia Ora WILL NOT Clear the closed bridge.
Day 5- Sail west to Ramrod Key for a quiet night at anchorage.
Day 6 - Sail to Key West and get a slip inside or go around the north end of Fleming Key to pick up a mooring on the east side. Enjoy Key West.
Day 7 - Return to Stock Island Marina for your departure and afternoon flight home.