Where Wegan Went: The Ultimate Travel Guide to The Florida Keys & Key West

travel guide to florida keys and key west 
Sun, sea, palm trees, sunsets... and turtles! Recently we got to visit a place that has been on our travel bucket list -- The Florida Keys & Key West! Did you know that the subtropical Florida Keys are made up of lots of islands? Some 1,700 in fact! More than 40 are connected by bridges allowing you to journey from Miami down the Florida Overseas Highway (US Route 1) to Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys, and finally to Key West. The drive is one of America’s most iconic road trips and not to be missed!

We love that the Florida Keys are focusing on sustainability with their 'Connect and Protect' campaign and encouraging visitors to have a lesser impact on the natural environment when visiting. From eco-friendly tours, to wearing reef-friendly sunscreen and stopping by the Coral Restoration Foundation to learn about coral reef preservation and protection efforts; there's lots we can do to help embrace this initiative. Also, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will be marking its 30th anniversary in 2020. The sanctuary comprises 2,900 square nautical miles of coastal waters around the Keys, stretching from Key Largo south to the Dry Tortugas National Park – it’s a great destination for diving and snorkeling. Fun fact: the Florida Keys is home to the continental USA’s only living coral barrier reef.

Key West is known as a very LGBTQ+ friendly place and 2020 also marks the 20th anniversary of the destination’s ‘One Human Family’ motto. We couldn't wait to explore all that the Keys has to offer, and to sample all the Key lime pies. 

This trip is a paid partnership with the Florida Keys & Key West and their partners who kindly hosted us. All views are our own. 

How to get to the Florida Keys & Key West?

To get to Florida Keys and Key West, we flew into Miami direct from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic. Thank you to Virgin Atlantic for providing press upgrades, we thoroughly enjoyed our flight there (& the bar in upper class, be rude not to enjoy a glass, or two, of bubbly!) 
It’s only just over an hour’s drive from Miami to the start of the Keys and the district of Key Largo, and from there it’s a scenic and stunning drive down to Key West, which takes about three hours to drive.
Where we visited…
1. Key Largo
2. Islamorada
3. Key West
4. Marathon
Here's what we got up to in the above districts of the Keys in the order that we visited them.

1. Key Largo

Key Largo is the first of the Keys and we were so excited to stop there after our drive from Miami. We could tell immediately that Key Largo has a laidback vibe and is the self-proclaimed ‘Diving Capital of the World’. Our time in Key Largo was short but sweet and left us wanting more.


Glass Bottom Boat Tour at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

We headed to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to embark on a glass bottom boat (yep, you read that correctly) so that we could see the underwater jungle below. It took about 45 minutes to reach the reef and then all of a sudden, we saw lots of different types of fish, coral, and even a turtle! The tour lasts 2.5 hours and is very interactive with the knowledgeable guide telling you information about everything as you see it. We even had our own Titanic moment at the front of the boat!


Cafe Gratitude

As soon as we arrived in Key Largo, we were drawn to Cafe Gratitude with its organic and surf vibe aesthetic, we just had to go in. They serve up island fusion, healthy and local eats from acai bowls and smoothies to the most delicious tuna melt. We particularly LOVED their fresh coconut water with lime. It was so refreshing and you will crave it from your first sip. We had one on the way into the Keys and on our way out! They also offer paddleboard tours, among the environmentally friendly activities to do in Key Largo. 

Key Largo Conch House

We stopped by Key Largo Conch House and sat outside on their patio for a tasty lunch. Whitney opted for fish tacos and Megan had a spinach wrap, both very fresh. We paired this with local beers and fell in love with a Coconut Key Lime Ale, 'No Wake Zone' from the Islamorada Beer Company.


2. Islamorada

After a 25-minute drive from Key Largo, our next stop along the Keys was Islamorada. Made up of six islands, this district in the Upper Keys has a really welcoming laid-back community feel and we felt so at ease and relaxed.


History of Diving Museum

The History of Diving Museum is a wonderful quirky treasure trove. Started by doctors who had a fascination with marine biology, they created a collection of diving helmets and more equipment that traces man’s quest to explore the underwater world. We had a fascinating tour and thoroughly enjoyed seeing and learning about the different types of diving equipment over the years. Megan is particularly fascinated as she has a love / fear relationship with the water. We even got to put our faces underwater!... Ok it was an optical illusion but fun nonetheless.

Couples Massage at Cheeca Lodge & Spa

We were kindly gifted a couples massage at Cheeca Lodge & Spa, which after travelling (and carrying all of our bags and dragging a broken suitcase) was just what our muscles needed. It was a wonderful and tranquil experience to get us ready for a week of exploring the Keys!

Islamorada Brewery and Distillery

As mentioned, we fell in love with Islamorada Beer Company’s Coconut Key Lime Ale in Key Largo, so we were ecstatic to go to a tour and tasting of their brewery and distillery. We started with the distillery and sampled some of their gin and rum. After our palates were satisfied by their spirits, we then moved onto the brewery to sample some of their beers. Each is so unique, delicious and pays homage to local ingredients, such as their Islamorada Ale (Island Citrus Ale). They also offer cocktails and we thoroughly enjoyed their Key lime pie martini. We also got to see where they brew some of their beers, which is the original brewery where it all started back in 2014. (Definitely recommend taking your hotel shuttle or Uber here).

Feeding Tarpon at Robbie's Marina

At Robbie’s Marina you’ll find giant tarpon (fish dubbed ‘silver kings’) swimming around the dock, waiting for their next feed. It’s so fun to watch people feed them and see them occasionally jump up into the air. For $2.25 you can enter the dock and also pay $4 for a bucket of fish to feed the tarpon. There’s also lots of pelicans hoping to grab the fish first (and they’re super cute!) so feed the tarpon quickly! It amazed us to see how big tarpon can be. Some can reach up to 8 feet and live for 50 years. We love that the tradition of feeding tarpon came from Robbie and his wife rescuing a tarpon in 1976, affectionately called ‘Scarface’ after they fixed his broken jaw. Once he was back to better health and freed into the wild, Scarface would return with more and more friends, and we guess the word spread!


Amara Cay Resort

We instantly loved the chic nautical decor at Amara Cay Resort, along with its natural and neutral tones. They call it “relaxed and refined” and that sums it up perfectly. We arrived late at night and admired the fire pits below from our hotel balcony. It wasn’t until the next day that we discovered the beautiful view of the ocean and walked along the sandy shoreline with countless palm trees. We watched the most stunning sunset from a hammock hanging in between the palm trees and it was a beautiful moment. It’s no wonder Amara Cay has been voted among the top 15 resorts in the Florida Keys in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2019.


Atlantic's Edge - Cheeca Lodge & Spa
If sitting ocean view in the sun with a local beer and fish tacos sounds like your kind of thing, then Atlantic's Edge will not disappoint. We did just that and it’s the serenity you crave when on holiday with the Florida Keys sun shining bright. They also do a fabulous blueberry mojito!

Chef Michael's

This chic spot definitely lives up to (and exceeds) the hype from locals in Islamorada, serving 'dock to dish' fish and prime steak. Chef Michael’s is classy, but not ostentatious, and has a humble and local vibe with the smooth sound of jazz playing in the background. The food is outstanding, local and fresh. Whitney had the yellowtail snapper and it was divine (also a sustainable fish). Megan had a plate of seasonal vegetables and grains which were surprisingly very delicious. Vegetarians sometimes get the short end of the stick at restaurants but the waitress, a fellow veggie, reassured Megan that the veggie plate is great and indeed it was!

3. Key West

At the southernmost tip of Florida (and the Keys), closer to Cuba than Miami, you’ll find the famous island city of Key West. We immediately fell in love with the Southern style old ‘conch’ houses amongst palm trees. Key West has a charming and vibrant vibe and it comes as no surprise that Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Jimmy Buffett lived here once. Key West is a very walkable city and we loved not needing a car and getting to explore the island by foot. This is also where we found frozen chocolate-covered Key lime pie on a stick! Get it at the iconic Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.


Honest Eco

As Megan is vegetarian (and Whitney pescatarian), we really care about the planet and love to focus on sustainability where possible. We were super excited to find eco boat tour company, Honest Eco. They have even designed and built their boat, known as Squid, from scratch and it is the first electric powered passenger boat in the USA! Squid also has solar power panels on top of the boat. Being electric powered makes it a lot better for the environment and also a lot quieter, so it doesn't disturb the ocean life as much. We absolutely loved the aesthetic and vibe of the boat and the tour with chilled music being played and the wind in our hair. Billy the owner is great, and hails from Kentucky (just like Whitney). We did the 'All the Above' tour, where we got to go kayaking through the mangroves, snorkeling and then dolphin watching. Honest Eco also offer shorter tours. For our tour, they served us a delicious vegetarian lunch by local cafe, Date & Thyme (you have to try their cashew spread!).

Watch The Sunset

If you don’t know this already, then this is something that you need to… the sunsets in the Florida Keys and Key West are simply EPIC! There are many ways that you can enjoy sunsets in Key West – here are two of our favourites…
1. Sunset Sail on the Schooner America 2.0 

All aboard an elegant yacht known as Schooner America 2.0! The boat is long and beautiful, with wooden panels and sails that the crew will ask guests to help them hoist (which is fun to partake in or watch… we chose the latter). You’re offered champagne, wine or beer. Megan opted for a glass of bubbly, followed by a French blush rose. Whitney of course went for the citrus ale by Islamorada Beer Company. Crudités and then cheese, meat and crackers are passed around as you venture into the ocean, ready to witness the most beautiful and vibrant sunset! 

We loved it and it was made even more special by sitting opposite the most lovely couple from Texas, Cheryl and Owen, who have been married for 30 years. The funniest moment came when we wondered where Cheryl had disappeared to… only to find that she was sailing the boat! We then had a quick go at steering ourselves. (They also recently dropped us an email, so sweet!) Before we knew it, the sunset was over and it was time to head back to shore.
2. Mallory Square 

The next day we took part in the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square. As we got close to the area, we could feel the buzz and energy. It’s where people flock daily to celebrate as the sun sets. We came across a live band performing, crowds gathering with drinks in hands, and then street performers in Mallory Square. Everyone was there to watch the sunset and cheer as it went down. We loved the atmosphere and even bumped into a couple of girls from our Honest Eco tour. 

Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

If you love to be surrounded by nature's finest, then you’ll love going to the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. As soon as you enter the conservatory, you are surrounded by so many different types of beautiful butterflies. It was such a lovely experience! You’ll also find flamingos and lots of tropical plants.

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

Literary fans will bask in the achievements and glory of this legendary writer at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Ernest lived for nearly 10 years in Key West during the 1930s. Touring the (ever so stylish) home he lived in, you will also see a colony of cats (which we loved and had to pry Megan away from!). Half of the cats have six toes, and some are descendants of Hemingway’s cat ‘Snow White’, given to him by a sea captain. His house also marks the first home in Key West to have a pool. Hemingway’s most notable novels were  “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “To Have and Have Not” and “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Marquesa Hotel

We absolutely loved our stay at the charming and quaint Marquesa Hotel. Located in Key West’s historic district and close to all the hustle and bustle of Duval Street, this is the perfect boutique hotel with old Southern charm, made up of former ‘conch’ houses situated around two pools.

We especially loved the tropical vibe with all the beautiful palm trees and orchids.  Plus, the Marquesa Hotel even has its own resident cat, Bob! (If you’re a cat lady like Megan, you’ll be in heaven.) The character and elegance of this hotel offered a unique experience during our stay in Key West.


Fisherman's Cafe 

Three words: Sesame. Guava. Toast. Quite possibly one of the best breakfasts that we've ever had was at the Fisherman’s Cafe. The delicious combination of guava and cream cheese on pressed sesame Cuban bread is a trifecta that you'll want to try. They also offer an array of lunch options from Lobster Enchilau Tacos (as seen on the Cooking Channel), to fish tacos, cracked conch salad and more. Situated and nestled in the Key West Historic Seaport District, it’s a hit with the locals and visitors like us!

Date & Thyme

Date & Thyme is a vegetarian’s breakfast dream come true, especially for Megan (and Whitney too as she's pescatarian). The restaurant dishes up some of the most organic, fresh and local food that you can find. We had an acai bowl and an egg bagel with fresh squeezed orange juice (and an iced coconut latte, obvs). What makes this place extra unique is that Date & Thyme is a former gas station with an attached organic grocery (you can also buy their cashew spread that we're still craving). 

Firefly Cafe Key West

If you are craving a bit of Southern food whilst in Key West, then Firefly Cafe is one to check out. They also have a great selection of local and southern brews as well. We had their pimento cheese, which was excellent, and a tasty fried green tomato sandwich. 


First Flight Restaurant & Brewery

First Flight is located at the birthplace of airline Pan Am! How cool is that? As travel bloggers and vloggers we found this to be fascinating. The restaurant building itself was once Pan Am’s HQ and that’s where they sold the very first plane ticket. The restaurant definitely keeps the memory of Pan Am alive through its decor, ‘play on words’ menu and their beer ‘flights.’ 

Cafe Marquesa

Located at the Marquesa Hotel, Cafe Marquesa is a high-end restaurant with a very cozy and intimate ambiance that makes it the perfect date spot or a great venue for dinner with friends and family. The food was absolutely delicious and we’re still dreaming of the Baby Gem Lettuce Salad starter we both enjoyed. The highlight of our dinner was the beignets for dessert -- they were divine and on track to be the best we have ever eaten. Also, we loved that the head chef has been trained by the late Anthony Bourdain and it definitely showed in his contemporary American cuisine.

LGBTQ+ Friendly...

It's always important to us that where we travel to is LGBTQ+ friendly and safe for us and our followers to visit. Key West has a vibrant and accepting culture and it's clear to see why it's internationally known as being a gay mecca. In fact, we were pleased to learn that more than 300,000 LGBTQ+ visitors travel to Key West each year. Did you know that some of the best annual events to time a visit to include are Key West Pride in June and Womenfest in September?
Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the destination’s ‘One Human Family’ motto. Key West proudly adopted ‘One Human Family‘ as its official philosophy in 2000 and it symbolises that all people are created equal, with the city renowned for its welcoming and accepting attitude.

We genuinely felt accepted as a couple and one of the highlights from our trip to the Florida Keys was meeting a wonderful married gay male couple, Robert and David (while we were enjoying our very tasty sesame guava toast from Fisherman’s Cafe). We started chatting to them about being married (they’ve clocked up 30 years to date!) and Robert said that once he got married, he made to decision to always use “husband” to help change perceptions one person at a time. That’s exactly how we feel about using the word “wife.” Slowly we can make change, person by person. All it takes is to correct someone from presuming the sexuality/gender pronoun of your partner and you can literally see the penny drop. We always correct people when they ask if we’re sisters and reply “no, we’re wife and wife.” We even had a lady say: “Oh, is that what you call it?! I always wondered!”

We loved the rainbow crosswalks in the heart of the LGBTQ+ area of Key West (at Duval Street) and hear that the drag night at 801 Bourbon Bar is not to be missed! Sadly, we didn't have enough time to experience it ourselves on this trip but we'll definitely venture there next time. What's more, you can also book a dedicated LGBTQ+ sunset cruise

If you’re interested to find out more about LGBTQ+ travel in the Keys, take a look at and watch the below video. 

4. Marathon

Our final stop in the Keys was Marathon, a one-hour drive back up the Overseas Highway from Key West. Made up of 13 islands, it is perhaps best known for the Turtle Hospital; which we could not wait to visit!


The Turtle Hospital 

Another highlight of our trip! At the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, they focus on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles in the Florida Keys. The 90-minute tour explains about different types of turtles, what they typically eat, and how they end up at the hospital. We were shown images of trash they had found in turtles, as well as three pounds of shells! Turtles can also end up in hospital from developing FP tumours (fibropapillomatosis) or as the result of a boat strike which can cause ‘bubble butt’ syndrome (which you'll have to go visit to find out about!).  

We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the passion from our guide. Of course, the true highlight was getting to visit the different turtles in their tanks, and we also got to feed them. We didn't realise how huge turtles can get, with the hospital’s single largest turtle weighing over 300 pounds. (She broke the operating table!) 

The Turtle Hospital has helped over 2,000 turtles since opening in 1986. The majority of the turtles get released back to the wild but they have a few resident turtles that are not well enough to be released and this is their permanent home. The Turtle Hospital is a non-profit organisation and relies on donations. You can even adopt a turtle!

Isla Bella Beach Resort

Beautiful, serene and elegant are just a few words that describe the luxurious Isla Bella Beach Resort. With a gorgeous driveway lined with palm trees, opulent views of the water and its very own beach, let’s just say that you won’t want to leave. You can even opt to have your breakfast, lunch and dinner right on the beach with sand between your toes, the sun shining or setting and the sound of the waves breaking.

The resort opened in April 2019 and offers an array of fun activities (if that’s your kind of thing) or it’s the perfect place to switch off and just relax. We had a double bedroom suite (perfect for keeping all our suitcases and mess to one room, haha!) and we loved the balcony which also happens to offer an ocean view.

Il Postino at Isla Bella Beach Resort 

At Il Postino at Isla Bella Beach Resort you’ll find fresh Italian food, specialising in incredibly tasty wood fire pizzas and homemade mozzarella. We indulged in an Italian feast at this beautiful restaurant sitting outside next to the ocean and enjoyed two different types of fresh mozzarella for a starter, and shared a white pizza with mushrooms, artichoke and garlic and a traditional Margherita. 

Before we knew it, our time had sadly come to an end in the Florida Keys & Key West, and it was time for us to return to Miami. We had a crazy whirlwind exploring lots that the 125-mile island chain has to offer, and left wanting to return for more. Have you visited the Florida Keys or are you looking to go there soon? We hope this guide helps you with your planning!

This trip is a paid partnership with the Florida Keys & Key West ( and their partners that kindly hosted. All views are our own. 


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