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Cruising Guide to the Keys

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Cruising Guide to the Keys

The Florida Keys has long been a destination for sailors, yachtsmen and boaters because it is one of the most beautiful cruising grounds on the planet. There are several ports with deep Anchored Boats at Sunset water access and a plethora of destinations for boats with shallow draft. There is an abundance of places for SCUBA diving and fishing. Several waterfront bars and restaurants are accessible by water including a few that can only be reached by boat. Some of the very best beaches in the Keys are accessible only by boat.

There are a myriad of excellent places to anchor in the back country of the lower Keys and it would be impossible to describe them all. The area has so much to offer that the best advice is to explore the area and when it is time to take a break, simply find an island or shallow bank that forms a protected lee and drop the hook.

That having been said, there are quite a few gems in the lower Keys that are genuinely worth seeking out. These locales offer something special. Perhaps it is a great beach, camping spot or party location. It could be a slice of history. It might be access to shopping or nightlife. Some places just have a compelling story. There are a few places that are well protected from all but the worst weather.

So rather than just enumerate a list of anchorages, this guide will attempt a short description of each of the better ones and try to give you a feel for the place, why you might want to visit and what to expect when you arrive.

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The Florida Keys consists of a cluster of over 1,500 islands off the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and extend south and west to the Dry Tortugas. The islands sit on a shallow bank of coral and sand that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Straits of Florida. This bank is the exposed part of a coral reef system that began forming over 100,000 years ago and have become fossilized as sea levels varied with several recent ice ages.