To enjoy healthy vacations one should visit Florida once, and to the south of Miami are the Florida Keys. It is a series of coral islands of varying size which extend for more than 110 miles between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, until there was devastating hurricane came in 1935 and they were linked by a rail line which was extended to Key West. From Key West there were boats to Havana, Cuba. The Engineered Overseas Highway, US, now runs over 42 bridges and number of artificial causeways to the south-eastern tip of the United States. On Biscayne Bay, the little islands of Sands Key, Elliot Key, Cotton Key and Old Rhodes Key are now part of the Biscayne National Underwater Park, which was established in 1980. Off Key Largo are the John Penne Kamp Coral Reef State Park and the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary. The rich underwater life and a number of wrecks attract large number of snorkelers and scuba divers. The park has a small swimming area with a shell covered beach. Number of people comes here for snorkeling and scuba diving and there are picnic areas and an information center with displays on the habitats and marine life. Numbers of tours are available, including glass bottom boat tours for a close up look at the world beneath the ocean surface.
Islamorada entitles to be the sport fishing capital of the world and many people also head to Marathon for fishing. And the second largest Key in the town is Marathon. The Dolphin Research Center is on grassy Key, where the TV series ‘Flipper’ was filmed. The Dolphin Research Center allows visitors to explore about Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. The bridge named new Seven Miles Bridge, built in 1982, leads to Bahia Honda State Park, with an amazing beautiful bathing beach. The park actually have two beach areas, one large stretch facing the open ocean, and other smaller beach area which looks across to the old railroad bridge. Views are stunning from either side. There is a campground area, as well as picnic sites. On big Pine Key is the National Key Deer Refuge, home miniature Deer known as Key deer, located between Marathon and Key West. This miniature species reaches the size of a large dog when full grown. And also on Big Pine Key is Blue Water Hole, a freshwater pond is located in a former quarry that attracts turtles and alligators.
In early days, during their pillaging runs, pirates used the Keys as a temporary Base. However, much of this activity stopped after 1822 when the U.S navy began to patrol the waters and built a base in Key West.
The coral reef key is the only key found in the continental United States. It played a major role in the area early economic development. When ships crashed into the shallow reef, local would salvage the cargo and resell it. And this practice is known as wrecking, was one of the first industries to bring prosperity to the region. And the other important regional economic ventures were sponge fishing and cigar manufacturing.