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Top 18 Best Things to Do in Islamorada

Top 18 Best Things to Do in Islamorada

If you plan on visiting the Florida Keys, Islamorada should be a must visit stop when driving to Key West. Islamorada’s central setting means it’s an excellent place to begin exploring the islands.

There are so many things to do in Islamorada. There are water activities, walking trails, beaches, and even a turtle hospital.

Despite its proximity to Miami, Islamorada feels a world away from the big city. It’s an ideal destination for water sports enthusiasts as well as families.

If you’re in search of a peaceful and relaxing vibe, Islamorada is a worthy destination. Check out our list of the top 18 things to do in Islamorada.

drone photo kayaking at Indian Key Historic State Park in Islamorada

1. Indian Key Historic State Park

Indian Key Historic State Park is a fantastic kayak trail in the Florida Keys. You can rent a kayak in Islamorada and paddle for about 30 minutes to reach the island. The island is easily accessed via a well-signposted kayak landing.

The island’s limestone rock is surrounded by thick mangroves, sheltering any surrounding noise. If you’re lucky, you might just be the only one there.

The island is only accessible by boat. We suggest renting Kayaks at Robbie’s. Before jumping in a kayak, make sure to have lunch at the Hungry Tarpon. It is one of the best restaurants in Islamorada and the famous spot to feed the Tarpon.

This 11-acre island was the first county seat for Dade County in 1836. Step on the island today, however, and you’ll find it’s overgrown. Old ruins are covered in vegetation, and it’s completely uninhabited. Exploring Indian Key is the perfect adventurous half-day trip from Islamorada.

Wander through the trails, and you can learn about the island’s history. Indian Key was once the home of wreckers, who salvaged cargo from shipwrecks. Visit today, and you’ll discover the remnants of old buildings and even an observation tower.

This ghost town island is a fun area for adventure seekers. Though the waters surrounding the island are rocky, they are the ideal spot for snorkeling in Islamorada. As you kayak back to Islamorada, be sure to look out for dolphins, even manatees, and rays.

Anne's Beach in Islamorada Florida Keys

2. Anne’s Beach

Visiting Anne’s Beach is one of the best things to do in Islamorada. Calm and shallow waters make this one of the best beaches in Islamorada for families. The still waters also make it an excellent area for those wanting to try paddleboarding.

It’s best to head to Anne’s Beach at low tide when there’s more sand. You can unwind on the beach or explore the boardwalk that twists through the mangroves. Bring lunch with you and enjoy the stunning views from the picnic shelters.

Parking is available at either end of the boardwalk, and it’s free!

woman standing in front of the history of diving museum - Things to do on a Miami to Key West Drive

3. History of Diving Museum

Those interested in diving or history will love this next destination. The History of Diving Museum is a treasure trove of underwater diving gems. Owners Joe and Sally Bauer began collecting diving artifacts in 1970.

After buying their first diving helmet, they spent the next 40 years developing their collection. The museum now houses one of the largest collections of diving equipment in the world.

There are tons of places to go scuba diving in the Florida Keys. Divers from around the world head to this museum to understand more about their sport. Exhibits show diving’s 4,000 year history, from antique diving helmets to contributions from groundbreaking female divers. The History of Diving Museum is a great addition to your Islamorada itinerary.

Woman feed Tarpon at Robbies in the florida Keys - Top things to do on a Key West Road Trip

4. Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina

Feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina is one of the most exhilarating activities in Islamorada. Lie on the dock, hold a small fish above the water, and watch. In no time, a huge tarpon will jump up and swallow the fish down!

Tarpons have super small teeth, so don’t be afraid if one bites you. You’ll only receive a sandpaper-style kiss at worst. There is now an admission fee per person and buckets of bail for sale to feed the tarpon.

Grab a bucket of bait and try it yourself! The whole family can enjoy feeding the tarpons. If the tarpons aren’t for you, then head to Hungry Tarpon, the onsite restaurant that has one of the best breakfast in Islamorada.

Teal colored exterior of the turtle hospital in the Florida Key - Things to do on a Miami to Key West Road trip

5. Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon is the world’s first veterinary hospital for sea turtles. This is one of the best things to do near Islamorada for animal lovers, and it is a great education stop for kids.

Opened in 1986, the hospital rehabs injured turtles and returns them to the ocean. It also works tirelessly to educate people about the dangers facing sea turtles. There are tons of things to see at the Turtle Hospital. Visiting the hatchlings is high on many people’s lists. You can also check out the turtle ambulances. You can even watch a turtle release. Check the hospital’s calendar for dates first.

The Turtle Hospital has treated and released more than 1500 sea turtles since 1986. It’s a really rewarding experience to see these once injured sea turtles now thriving.

Islamorada Fishing Charter pier Whale Harbor

6. Islamorada Fishing Charters

Islamorada is often referred to as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World.” If you have ever wanted to go fishing in the Florida Keys, consider going on an Islamorada fishing charter. Islamorada is a great place for first-time fishers and fishing pros.

There are half-day and full-day fishing charter options and several different types of charters. Want to try and catch tuna, snapper, swordfish, barracuda, grouper, etc? Let fishing charter what you’d like to catch, and they will know where to go and if it is the right season to do so.

Some of the best restaurants in Islamorada will even cook up the fish you catch! There are also looking companies that can clean, fillet, and package your fish so you can bring it back home with you.

Many of the best fishing charters in Islamorada depart from Bud N’ Mary’s fishing marina or Whale Harbour. Fishing charters typically start at $800+ for a half-day tour, and a full-day fishing charter will cost $1,200+.

Aerial View of the 7 mile bridge - Top things to see on a Road trip from Miami to Key West - Florida

7. The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

To understand the Florida Keys, you need to head to the Overseas Heritage Trail. The Heritage Trail consists of more than 90 miles of paved trails between Key Largo and Key West. The trail connects the Florida Keys archipelago.

The development of the Overseas Heritage Trail offers a scenic location for walking, running, and bicycling. It is also frequently used for skating, fishing, and accessing the water. The Keys are so extensive that the trail offers a different way to explore more.

woman standing in front of the MM88 beach sign at mile marker 88 on the overseas highway during a Florida Keys road trip

8. Lunch and drinks on the water

Morada Bay Beach Café is a great Islamorada restaurant on the water and serves delicious food. Sit with your toes in the sand, overlooking Florida Bay and relax. A blend of Caribbean and American cuisine is on offer at the café. Enjoy a diverse range of food, from Tuna Tataki to a Day Boat Snapper Sando.

You absolutely can’t forget to have one of their signature cocktails. Margaritas, mojitos, and Pina Coladas will certainly round off the day well. View the menu here.

Islamorada Sandbar party - Must do things driving from Key West to Miami

9. Sandbar Party

The Islamorada sandbar is one of the most popular sandbars in the Florida Keys. It has become a local mecca for people who love partying. This popular sandbar is located less than a mile offshore from Mile Marker 84.

The sandbar in Islamorada is particularly busy on holiday weekends, and during the summer, it is a party paradise. When the weather gets hotter, you’ll find a sandbar party every Sunday.

Bring your own boat or charter one. Just remember to bring the drinks. Out on the sandbar, you’ll meet locals and tourists enjoying the sun and water. This is by far one of the best party places in Islamorada.

Top 7 Best Beaches in Key Largo

Snorkeling in Islamorada at Alligator Reef lighthouse

10. Alligator Reef Lighthouse

The Alligator Reef Lighthouse is situated four miles from the shores of Islamorada. This isn’t just any old lighthouse. Built in 1873, this beacon marks the shipwreck of the USS Alligator.

The USS Alligator tried to recapture and free ships that had been taken by pirates. But the coral at Alligator Reef proved difficult to navigate, and the ship ran aground.

Though these waters proved dangerous to ships, they are an ideal venue for snorkelers. The reef surrounding the lighthouse is one of the best places for snorkeling in Islamorada. The reef is one of the last surviving coral reefs in the United States.

Book an excursion or charter a boat for the best underwater views in Islamorada. If you’re passionate about snorkeling, then this is the best thing to do in Islamorada.

Lorelei Islamorada waterfront restaurant plate of food at sunset

11. Sunset at Lorelei Cabana Bar

On our very first trip to the Florida Keys, we spent three nights at The Islander Resort, which is right across the street from Lorelei. We walked over that first night for happy hour and ended up staying for sunset and dinner. We have been coming back ever since!

If you are looking for one of the best restaurants in Islamorada and has the best place for sunset, come to Lorelei! They have great cheap drinks and live music every night.

If you aren’t hungry and it is the middle of the day, still stop! Lorelei’s is right on the water, has super chill vibes, has great staff, and offers cheap drinks. It is one of the best bars in the Florida Keys.

Flight of 6 beers at Islamorada beer company - things to do in the Florida Keys

12. Islamorada Brewing Company

The Islamorada Brewery is the best place in Islamorada to try some refreshing microbrews. This local brewing company offers a fantastic beer garden experience as well as an onsite brewery and tasting room. With live music, a food truck, and trivia nights, this is a popular local hangout.

Hand-crafted beers aren’t the only drinks on the menu. Spirits, including spiced rum, hibiscus gin, and vodka, are also distilled and served on-site.

After a day of exploring Islamorada, this is a superb evening hangout location. We usually stop in for a pint before heading off to a sunset spot or in the middle of the day to just sit back and relax.

There is also Florida Keys Brewing Company, another brewery in Islamorada. They have a really good outdoor beer garden. It is one of our favorite bars in Islamorada.

13. Morada Way Arts and Cultural District

Morada Way Arts and Cultural District (MWACD) is the equivalent of a big city’s downtown. A downtown area in the Florida Keys is rare. Between Miami and Key West, MWACD is the only downtown, main street, and neighborhood. Compared with the tranquil serenity of the Keys, this area is a hive of activity.

MWACD covers a six-block area and is filled with galleries, restaurants, and studios. The third Thursday of each month sees a street festival come to life. Live music is playing. There’s delicious food, and it’s a vibrant clash of sounds and smells.

Artists line the street selling their local crafts and artwork. There’s a tremendously uplifting community feel to the district. Everyone visiting Islamorada must make a trip to MWACD.

A statue of a giant lobster along Highway 1 the overseas highway to Key West at Rain Barrel

14. Rain Barrel Village

Rain Barrel Village is an artisan village where you can support local vendors. Wander the area looking at souvenir shops, art galleries, and studios. The colorful shack-like shop fronts and bustling atmosphere offer a splash of noise. Paintings, ceramics, jewelry, wall décor, you name it, they’ve got it at Rain Barrel Village.

You’ll recognize the village from the giant lobster standing outside. Be sure to say hey to Betsy and take a selfie before exploring.

15. Florida Keys History and Discovery Center

History buffs will love the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center. The Florida Keys is a unique part of the world with a diverse and fascinating history. At the museum, you can learn about the Florida Keys and their distinctive sea lifestyle. Suitable for all ages, the museum covers the nature, art, and history of the Keys.

The discovery center is located inside the Islander Resort. You can learn about the legends of the Keys and the first people to inhabit the area. The devastating 1935 Labor Day Hurricane is also meticulously documented. You can easily spend hours exploring this Islamorada attraction.

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park in Islamorada

16. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

At Windley Key State Park, you can see coral fossils up close. As coral can’t live above the water’s surface, seeing these fossils is a rare spectacle.

By visiting the park, you’ll learn about the distinctive underlying geology of the Florida Keys. After seeing the fossilized coral, you can’t help but imagine what lies beneath the Keys’ surface.

From the visitors center, you can take a bunch of short tours of the park. These self-guided tours are an excellent way to learn about the area’s ecology.

  • Address: 82100 Overseas Highway, Islamorada
  • Admission: Adults $15, Seniors $12.50, Students $6, Kids under 6 are free

17. Long Key State Park

Long Key previously only catered to the rich and famous. Now, this State Park is one of the best places for outdoor activities in Islamorada.

Many anglers head to the park for an unparalleled fishing experience. Anglers had enjoyed Long Key since the 20th century when it was a luxury destination. The world’s best anglers and even U.S. presidents flocked to the park.

Long Key is one of the best places to visit in Islamorada for adventure lovers. If fishing’s not for you, then why not head out on one of the hiking trails? Golden Orb Nature Trail is a lovely 1.5-mile walk, winding through tropical plants. Due to a lack of tree canopy, this area is a bird watchers’ paradise. Also, look out for scurrying fiddler crabs who frequently rush across the ground.

After a hike in the Florida sun, cool off with some snorkeling. The shores surrounding Long Key are filled with sea cucumbers, urchins, fish, and sea stars.

18. Theater of The Sea

This marine park is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Islamorada. The Theater of the Sea is full of interactive animal exhibits. Dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, and stingrays, there are lots to see at the park.

This 17-acre park is full of lagoons and tropical gardens. You can take an exhilarating bottomless boat ride to see animals in their natural setting. Alternatively, you can take your pick of animal interactions. Swim with dolphins, rays, and even sharks. Admission to the park includes the dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows, as well as nature tours and the lagoon beach.

Islamorada FAQ

Is Islamorada Worth Visiting?

Islamorada has an easygoing atmosphere and is filled with outdoor activities. There are so many attractions in Islamorada.

If you are driving from Miami to Key West, you’ll drive right through it, so stop and check it out! It is also one of the best places to stay in the Florida Keys, as you can easily access the other keys.

What Do Locals Do in Islamorada?

Locals like to enjoy the simple pleasures of island life. You’ll find some residents enjoying the local fishing scene. They might just offer you some advice if you want to give it a try!

Can You Walk Around Islamorada?

The village of Islamorada is spread across six Islands all along the Overseas Highway that connects the Florida Keys. The main island of Islamorada is Upper Matecumbe Key is walkable as it’s quite small. To access the other Keys, you must walk or drive along the Overseas Highway or Heritage Trail.

If you are sticking around the Islamorada attractions, you may not need a vehicle. However, if you want to travel further afield, driving is recommended.

Don’t make the mistake of driving right through Islamorada. Make sure to stop and hit up some of the attractions or, even better yet, spend a night or two. 

Don’t forget to pin me for later!

Drone view of Robbie's Marina and lowmatecumbe key for a pin for Things to do in Islamorada

Stephen Edgington

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Hi, Brilliant article. Gives lots of information and some idea of the prices for some things. You might want to include a places to stay review.

Just got to persuade the wife that she wants to go!! :)