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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 Gulf Stream starts in the Gulf of Mexico, exits through the Straits of Florida and the Florida Keys, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to being a heat pump that carries warm water from the tropics to the northern latitudes, the Gulf Stream is also an amazingly diverse ecosystem that helps add to the biodiversity of the ecosystems it feeds as it makes its circuit of the North Atlantic. Therefore the health of the Florida Keys environment has a profound effect on environments all over the Atlantic Ocean and the world.