If you’re planning a road trip to the Sunshine State, the Florida Keys should be at the top of your must-visit destinations. This stunning archipelago of islands offers a unique blend of tropical beauty, adventure, and relaxation. As you journey south along the Overseas Highway, you’ll encounter breathtaking scenery, delicious seafood, and fantastic fishing opportunities. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at two essential aspects of your Florida Keys road trip: indulging in delectable stone crabs and experiencing the thrill of fishing charters.
Seafood Delight: Stone Crabs of the Florida Keys
A Florida Delicacy
When it comes to seafood in the Florida Keys, one delicacy stands out above the rest: stone crabs. These succulent crustaceans are a local treasure and a must-try for any traveler passing through. The Florida Keys are renowned for their fresh seafood, and stone crabs are no exception.
What Makes Stone Crabs Special?
Stone crabs are unique because they are harvested primarily for their colossal claws. Unlike other crab species, these crabs can regenerate their claws, making them a sustainable choice for seafood lovers. The claws are cooked and served chilled, making for a refreshing and savory treat, especially on a warm Florida day.
Where to Savor Stone Crabs
As you make your way to Key West, you’ll find numerous seafood restaurants and shacks serving fresh stone crabs. One popular spot is “Joe’s Stone Crab” in Miami, a historic institution dating back to 1913. While it’s a bit off the beaten path, Joe’s is worth the detour for the chance to savor these delectable claws.
Tips for Enjoying Stone Crabs
When indulging in stone crabs, here are some tips to enhance your dining experience:
- Order the right size: Stone crab claws come in various sizes, from medium to jumbo. If you’re new to stone crabs, start with medium or large claws to get a taste without breaking the bank.
- Don’t forget the mustard sauce: Stone crab claws are often served with a zesty mustard dipping sauce that compliments their sweet, tender meat perfectly.
- Pair with a cold beverage: Whether it’s a local craft beer or a refreshing Key lime margarita, a cold drink will enhance your stone crab feast.
Cast Your Line: Fishing Charters in the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are synonymous with world-class fishing, offering anglers an array of opportunities to reel in a big catch. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, the Keys’ waters are teeming with fish just waiting to be caught.
Fishing Charters: The Way to Go
For the ultimate fishing experience, consider booking a fishing charter. These guided trips are ideal for both beginners and seasoned fishermen, as they provide all the gear, local expertise, and access to prime fishing spots.
Types of Fishing Charters
In the Florida Keys, you can choose from various types of fishing charters, including:
- Deep-Sea Fishing Charters: Venture into the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico to target species like marlin, sailfish, and grouper.
- Reef Fishing Charters: Stay closer to the shore and cast your line around the coral reefs, where you’ll find snapper, grouper, and other reef-dwelling fish.
- Flats Fishing Charters: Explore the shallower waters and flats of the Keys, known for their abundant bonefish, tarpon, and permit.
Booking Your Fishing Charter
To make the most of your fishing adventure, follow these steps:
- Research and Choose Your Charter: Look for reputable charter operators in the Keys and read reviews to ensure you select a professional outfit.
- Select the Right Type of Fishing: Depending on your preferences and the season, choose the type of fishing charter that suits you best.
- Book in Advance: Fishing charters can fill up quickly, especially during peak season, so it’s wise to book your trip well in advance.
- Pack Accordingly: Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and your favorite fishing hat for good luck!
Road Tripping to Key West
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of where to find mouthwatering stone crabs and how to embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure, let’s get back on the road and head to Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States.
The drive to Key West along the Overseas Highway is an experience in itself. This 113-mile stretch of highway connects the islands with a series of bridges and offers breathtaking views of the turquoise waters, lush mangroves, and iconic sunsets.
As you journey to Key West, don’t forget to make some key stops along the way:
- Bahia Honda State Park: A paradise for snorkelers, swimmers, and beach lovers, this park boasts some of the Keys’ most beautiful beaches.
- Seven Mile Bridge: One of the most iconic bridges in the Florida Keys, offering sweeping views of the ocean.
- Key Deer Refuge: Keep an eye out for the adorable and endangered Key deer that roam freely in this refuge.
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Explore the former residence of the famous author and admire the polydactyl cats that still call it home.
A road trip to the Florida Keys and Key West is a journey filled with adventure, natural beauty, and unforgettable seafood. Whether you’re savoring the sweet meat of stone crabs or casting your line on a fishing charter, the Keys have something for everyone. So, hit the road, soak in the stunning scenery, and make memories that will last a lifetime in this tropical paradise.