24 Fabulous Things to do in Key Largo, Florida

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There are so many wonderful things to do in Key Largo. As the northernmost island in the Florida Keys, getting here from Miami is a piece of cake. Or should I say a piece of key lime pie?

The most easily accessible of the Florida Keys, Key Largo is an island brimming with stunning natural wonders.

Planning your trip to Key Largo last minute?

Key Largo is super popular for both Miami day-trippers and overnight visitors. Make sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment!

⛱️ Top Experiences and Tours in Key Largo:

  1. Snorkeling Tour in John Pennekamp State Park (My favorite Key Largo activity!)
  2. Mangroves & Manatees Eco Kayak Tour (Top-rated Key Largo tour!)
  3. Sunset Tiki Cruise (Fun party option!)

🛌  Top-Rated Hotels in Key Largo:

  1. Kona Kai Resort and Gallery (I loved my stay here!)
  2. Atlantic Bay Resort (Cute beachfront cottages)
  3. Seafarer Key Largo Resort (Great budget option)

🚗 Renting a car on your Florida Keys trip? Find deals on car rental rates here.

Surrounded by Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Key Largo is more than just a line in a Beach Boys song — it’s the Dive Capital of the World! This island is home to the first undersea park in the United States and the world’s second-largest artificial reef.

Even if you don’t dive — and I don’t — you still stand to encounter a lot of wildlife in Key Largo through snorkeling, glass bottom boat tours, kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing trips. You could see sea turtles, tropical fish, manatees, dolphins, and tarpon, just to start! The beaches in Key Largo are truly a gateway to another world.

While most things to do in Key Largo revolve around the water, hiking and cycling are other fun ways of seeing the scenery. At eye level, the northernmost key is awash with palm trees, mangroves, hammock forest. 

In addition to eating ALL the key lime pie, you’ll find only the freshest seafood on sale in Key Largo. Wash it down with a craft beer or tiki cocktail as you watch the most gorgeous sunsets in the Sunshine State. 

Let’s dive into the best things to do in Key Largo — for water fans as well as landlubbers!

This post was published in January 2024 and was co-written by Adventurous Kate and Hannah Cooper.

Four snorkelers in the neon teal water at Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo.
Snorkeling in John Pennekamp State Park is for everyone!

Best Things To Do in Key Largo, Florida

Visit the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park 

Spending time in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is an excellent way to start your time in Key Largo. The first underwater park in the United States protects around 70 nautical square miles of living coral reefs and marine life. It also has two lovely beaches, an aquarium, and a campground. 

The state park sits next to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, where there are further coral reefs plus mangrove forests. These warm waters are best explored via snorkeling or scuba diving although glass-bottom boat tours and kayaking are other options. 

This snorkel tour in John Pennekamp State Park is my favorite activity I did in Key Largo. The tour takes you to two shallow sites which usually include Christ of the Abyss (an underwater Jesus statue) and/or the Grecian Rocks. You have about 90 minutes in the water overall. 

A green heron perched on a branch. The bird has a long needle-like beak, a dark green head, beady yellow eyes, and the rest of its body is brown.
A green heron at the Florida Keys Bird Sanctuary, via Shutterstock

Explore Nature in Key Largo

If Miami has the monopoly on sandy beaches, Key Largo is all about the wildlife – we’re talking marine, mammal, reptilian, bird, the whole nine yards! So where are the best places to see wildlife in the area?

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park has five entry-level hiking trails along mangrove swamps and the world’s only fossilized coral reef. Swing by the visitor center for a history lesson. 

Up in North Key Largo, past the bridge that connects you to the mainland, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is a floral wonderland. Keep an eye peeled for American crocodiles as you stroll through its vast West Indian tropical hardwood hammock. This is one of the few places in the Keys where these crocodiles live. 

A mile south brings you to Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, although it’s more like a butterfly park. There are some American crocodiles nesting in the saltwater mangrove swamps as well.

Ornithophiles can visit Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary (also known as the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center). This reserve rehabilitates and releases wounded birds and has a lovely boardwalk trail through the mangroves. It’s free to visit but a donation of $10 per person is appreciated. 

Three women driving a boat in the Florida Keys
Hopefully your boat trip comes with a badass all-female crew like mine did!

Take a Boat Trip in Key Largo

A boat trip is a rite of passage for all travelers in Key Largo! And, you have a slew of options, from family-friendly excursions and wildlife-watching boat rides to booze cruises and historic barges.

Let’s start with the iconic African Queen Canal Cruise. This steamboat was the star of the eponymous movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, and is available for shared and private sails along the Port Largo Canals. 

Hopping aboard a glass-bottom boat tour in Key Largo is a great way to eyeball the underwater national parks’ coral reefs and marine life without getting wet! A great option for non-swimmers who want to see some underwater wildlife. The tour includes a narration of the coral reef.

If mammals float your boat, you must go dolphin- and manatee-watching in the Keys. This eco-tour in Key Largo is capped at six participants for a more intimate experience. The same operator runs a sunset cruise in Florida Bay.

This catamaran sunset cruise is another option for more of a party spirit. It’s a BYOB setup, so bring a bottle or two — and guests are always full of praise for the soundtrack!

Last but not least, a private sunset cruise is one of the most unique things to do in Key Largo for couples or small groups. You’ll have the boat all to yourselves for that castaway vibe.

An underwater statue of Jesus reaching his arms up to the surface.
Christ of the Abyss, via Shutterstock

Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

You can’t go to Key Largo, the Dive Capital of the World, and not explore beneath the surface! Popular dive sites include the USS Spiegel Grove shipwreck and its artificial reef system. There’s also an underwater statue of Jesus, called Christ of the Abyss, where sea turtles are often spotted.

This snorkel trip in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and John Pennekamp Coral Reef is designed for beginners. These shallow waters only require a basic swimming ability. 

Experienced snorkelers might prefer this two-reef snorkel tour in Key Largo. Locations vary, but typically include the Christ of the Abyss and the Grecian Rocks. 

(First time snorkeling? Make sure you wear a rash guard and use reef safe sunscreen. It’s so easy to get sunburned through the water, especially when your back is constantly facing upward.)

Are you a diver? This guided two-tank shallow diving experience includes Christ of the Abyss (sometimes called Christ of the Deep), the Grecian Rocks, the City of Washington, and/or The Elbow Reef. If you’re a more experienced diver, this two-dive excursion in the Florida Marine Sanctuary goes a little deeper. 

Want to learn to dive? Great idea! Learn to scuba dive in Key Largo and you’ll never look back. This Discover Scuba Diving commences in the pool before hitting two open-water dive spots. It’s perfect if you want to test the waters before getting qualified.

A beach with palm trees and soft white sand.
Far Beach in Key Largo, via Shutterstock.

Enjoy Key Largo Beaches

You have probably come to the Florida Keys to enjoy all the beaches — and Key Largo definitely has some nice contenders among the best beaches in the Florida Keys!

One thing you should know is that many of Key Largo’s beaches are private to hotels and homes. That said, there are a few public beaches that are especially nice.

Some of the nicest beaches with public access are in John Pennekamp State Park. I recommend checking out Far Beach and Cannon Beach, which are both family-friendly with snorkeling opportunities nearby.

A unique option is Rowell’s Waterfront Park, which has a 10-foot-deep tidal pool you can jump into.

And just down the road in Tavernier, you have Harry Harris Park with its perennially popular beach!

A room in an underwater hotel with a porthole looking into the water, and a bench in front with a stuffed blowfish and some pillows.
Inside Jules Undersea Lodge, via Jennifer Gergen on Flickr.

Experience Jules Undersea Lodge

A truly unique kind of accommodation, Jules Undersea Lodge is a great place to stay in Key Largo if you know how to dive. This is an underwater hotel and access means scuba diving into an airlock chamber!

Once you’re tucked up nice and dry in the suite, you can watch parrot fish, barracuda, and – if you’re really lucky – manatees swim past from bed. Lodging is only available to certified divers or those who enroll in the Discover Scuba Diving course. 

Honestly, if I stayed here I wouldn’t sleep a wink the whole night (I’ve watched too many disaster movies) — but I can completely understand how this would be a bucket list item for divers.

If you don’t want to sleep over (starting at $1,350 per night, this is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime splurge!) you can just dive or snorkel in the lagoon. Snorkeling costs $15 per person while all-day diving is from $40. If the underwater suite is vacant, you can peer through the window while diving. 

A slice of key lime pie topped with whipped cream.
Mrs. Mac’s in Key Largo makes the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys!

Try all of the Key Lime Pie

With all the outdoor adventures, you’ll build up an appetite in Key Largo — and that calls for key lime pie! You may have had key lime before, but trust me — it’s so much better in the Florida Keys. The pies are made from limes indigenous to this region.

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo is home to my favorite key lime pie in the Florida Keys. I make sure to stop here whenever I’m in the Keys. The OG diner sits on the southbound side of the Overseas Highway, while the larger restaurant is on the northbound side. Their flawless key lime pie is reason enough to pull over, but the diner also serves fresh seafood and comfort food. 

Fish House is another favorite among locals for key lime pie and fresh dishes plucked from the sea. The coconut version is a radical take on the classic, but so delicious. This is located alongside the overseas highway, between Key Largo and the Florida mainland, so it makes a good stop on your way to or from Miami.

Kate holding a bottle of mead at Keys's Meads, in front of a chalkboard listing the latest flavors.

Visit Keys’ Meads

If you’re familiar with the craft spirits revolution, you may have heard of mead — a honey wine popular in medieval times that is making a comeback today. If you’re interested in trying some, head over to Keys’ Meads, a meadery right here in Key Largo!

Mead is similar to port — you pour yourself a small glass and enjoy the flavors. Keys’ Meads makes mead in sweet, semi-sweet, and dry flavors like orange blossom, plum, starfruit, holiday spiced apple pie (which I really enjoyed!), and mango.

The tasting room is open from 12-8 PM Monday through Saturday, and 12-6 PM on Sundays. They also ship — so if you’re traveling carry-on only and can’t bring a bottle home, they’ll gladly send one to your house!

Displays of coral at the Coral Restoration Center

Coral Restoration Foundation

The Coral Restoration Foundation is located in Tavernier, just outside Key Largo, and they’re doing inspiring work repairing the coral reefs in the area. You can drop in and learn about the important work they’re doing.

Since 2007, they’ve returned more than 220,000 critically endangered corals back to the reefs in the Florida Keys.

If you’re a diver, you can even volunteer with them, replanting new coral in the reefs!

A woman biking on a cement road over the ocean.
Cycling the Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, via Michael Rosebrock on Shutterstock.

Explore the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail 

Start your day with a stroll or cycle along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

Running parallel to the U.S. Highway 1, this 106-mile multi-use trail links Key Largo with Key West through a series of 23 historic Flagler Railroad bridges. Construction is still ongoing, but over 90 miles are completed. 

While some hardcore cyclists tackle the entire highway all the way to mile marker 0 in Key West, you can have just as much fun covering a few sections of the trail.

You can rent bikes from All Keys Cycles or Key Largo Bike and Adventure Tours, or ebikes from Bike the FL Keys. While I love ebikes for the extra bit of power they give you going up hills, there aren’t that many hills in the Florida Keys! It’s nice to have the extra oomph on a hot day, though.

Picking a segment between mile markers 106.5 and 60 is the best option in Key Largo. This incorporates John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and a bit of Islamorada before ending in Long Key (and passing some of the best Florida Keys beaches).

A man and woman kayaking in their own kayaks, along a river edged with mangroves.
Kayaking is one of the essential Key Largo activities! Via Shutterstock.

Kayak or paddleboard through the mangroves

The mangroves in and around Key Largo are a paddler’s paradise — and exploring them is one of the most special things to do in Key Largo. These mangroves are the natural habitat for invertebrates, turtles, birds, and even manatees. 

If you fancy exploring independently, just arrange an all-day kayak rental or an all-day paddleboard rental. Instruction is provided before you launch and the crew can suggest the best mangroves and lagoons based on your level of ability. 

Otherwise, this guided two-hour eco-tour is suitable for all skill levels and welcomes family groups and solo travelers. It concentrates on Tavernier Creek and you have the choice of taking a kayak or paddleboard. Lighted crafts are available for sunset or twilight paddles. 

A round raft with a small tiki hut on it floating down a river surrounded by mangroves.
Have a blast on a floating tiki bar! Via Shutterstock.

Drink on a floating tiki bar

Key Largo is the perfect place for twirling an umbrella in a tropical cocktail. But happy hour gets an upgrade in the Sunshine State courtesy of a floating hut!

These guys run shared and private tiki cruises with specialty options for the likes of birthday parties, bachelorettes, and one-of-a-kind engagements. Departing from Snooks Bayside or Sundowners in Key Largo, the tiki fun cruise floats during the day whereas the sunset tiki cruise is timed for golden hour. 

All of these are BYOB cruises, so you’ll have to remember to swing by the liquor store and make your own daiquiris. Both tours let you stream your favorite tunes with an iPad. Note that the capacity is a maximum of six people.

A man fishing off a boat, a strong fish caught by his pole. The fish is so strong it's bending the fishing pole.
Fishing in the Florida Keys, via Shutterstock.

Go fishing 

Fishing for mahi mahi, snapper, tarpon, and wahoo is one of the most popular things to do in Key Largo. People come from all over the world come to Key Largo to fish in the rich waters here, and locals love it, too!

This private fishing charter adventure is perfect for families and groups. It’s a full-day excursion with a professional captain. The crew deals with all permits and the boat is stocked with fishing equipment, bait, tackle, and snorkel gear. Non-fishers are welcome – you can even spend the day just sailing if you’d like.

Alternatively, this private chartered fishing charter for two is aimed at couples. The captain provides a lesson in fishing for the tarpon shoals that migrate between the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park. 

A man and a woman jet skiing on the open water near the Florida Keys.
Jet skiing in the Florida Keys, via Shutterstock.

Rent a jet ski

Jet skiing is one of the most thrilling water sports in the Florida Keys. It’s easy to rent a jet ski and explore the bays independently — newbies will have an introduction on how to enjoy yourself while keeping wildlife safe. This should give you all the knowledge and confidence you need. 

Alternatively, this guided jet ski tour still puts you in the driver’s seat, but you’ll have a guide to follow. The typical itinerary starts at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and follows through Blackwater Sound. Tours run all day and sunrise options are available. 

Otherwise, this daytime or sunset jet ski tour is a private activity for couples and groups. The route focuses on the best places in Key Largo for spotting wildlife. 

A pink Cadillac turned into a boat, sitting at a dock in the Florida Keys, palm trees in the background.
Beachside in Islamorada, so close to Key Largo.

Explore Islamorada and the Upper Keys 

Islamorada, the “Village of Islands,” is just about a 20-minute drive from Key Largo. With so many cool activities, a day trip here is one of the top things to do in Key Largo. Starting with a pit stop at one of the best Key Largo beaches on the way, of course! 

Harry Harris Park has a sandy beach, tidal swimming pool, playground, boat ramp, and picnic tables. It’s tempting to spend a whole day there, but you’re only five minutes north of the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary. 

Hand-feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s is a classic — you buy a bucket of small fish and feed them to the giant tarpon in the water! No matter where you’re visiting in the Florida Keys, I think this activity is a must! It only costs $2.50 to access the dock and $5 for a bucket of feed. Watch out for the pelicans — they know you’re holding a bucket of delicious fish! 

Robbie’s is an awesome place for water activities and to eat, and another nice spot for a meal is Marker 88. This beachfront grill serves seafood and tiki cocktails with regular live music. It fills up at sunset but has a great atmosphere. 

It only takes an hour to tour the History of Diving Museum. This is a treasure trove of relics and equipment tracing the evolution of underwater exploration and scuba diving for fun. 

Round off a day in Islamorada with a craft beer inspired by the local area at Florida Keys Brewing Company. The cheekily-named brews, live music, backyard games, and food trucks make this one of the best places to hang out in the Keys. And don’t miss the surrounding galleries and studios that are part of the Morada Way Arts District.

Read More: 22 Fun Things to Do in Islamorada, Florida Keys

A boat with a fan on its back zooming through the mangroves in the Everglades.
Exploring the Everglades is a doable day trip from Key Largo! Via Shutterstock.

Take a day trip to Everglades National Park

If you’re in Key Largo and you have a car, you can easily add on a day trip to the Everglades National Park — the largest tropical wilderness in the continental United States. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.

The Everglades begin about a 45-minute drive from Key Largo and extend outward from there.

One of the best ways of exploring the park’s mangroves and wetlands is via airboat. The Everglades National Park airboat tour and wildlife show is the safest way to look for alligators and crocodiles. This ride lasts 30-40 minutes and is fully narrated. 

On top of the tour, you’ll need to pay an admission fee of $30 per vehicle/$15 per pedestrian for entry. 

A quirky outdoor cafe in Miami.
A cool cafe in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami.

Take a day trip to Miami

It might sound counterintuitive if you’re flying into Miami and driving straight down to Key Largo, but hear me out! Key Largo is close enough to Miami that I don’t think it’s a waste to drive in for a day.

I recommend taking time to explore Miami’s coolest neighborhoods — Wynwood and South Beach, which couldn’t be more different.

Make buzzing South Beach at Miami Beach your destination for the day if you’re a beach bum. The sandy beach is like nothing you’ll see in the Florida Keys — South Beach is home to the best urban beaches in the US, in my opinion! The sand is white and soft, leading to the perfect turquoise water. South Beach is also home to lots of neat deco architecture.

When you’re done soaking up the sun, stop off at artsy Wynwood. The Brooklyn of Miami is a happening spot flooded with murals, galleries, boutiques, and cafes. Pick up a flat white to go and lose yourself in this gigantic outdoor art installation. 

Drive time between Key Largo and Miami is around 90 minutes.

Hemgingway's house, a big White House with yellow shutters and wraparound porches in Key West.
Hemingway’s House in Key West

Take a day trip to Key West

Should you do a day trip to Key West from Key Largo? Honestly, I think you should spend at least a few days in Key West, because it’s such a cool town with so much to do!

But if you have a long time in Key Largo — say, five days to a week — and you don’t mind driving about two hours each way, you can definitely make a day trip to Key West work.

I recommend starting early and coming back after sunset. My recommendations would be to visit one of the historic homes: either the Hemingway House (with the six-toed cats!) or Truman’s Little White House; spend time walking down Duval Street and enjoying the merriment, and taking in the sunset celebration at Mallory Square.

There are plenty of other things to do in Key West, from beach-hopping and boat rides to some of the craziest festivals around (and I’ve been to one of the best, the Hemingway Lookalike Contest) — so I hope you come back for a much longer trip!

A wooden dock perched near lots of palm trees in Key Largo, Florida.

How Much Time to Spend in Key Largo

With two or three days, you can see all there is to see in Key Largo, plus a good about of the attractions in nearby Islamorada, too. That’s if you’re planning a more active trip with a busy itinerary.

However, you could easily spend a week or more in this part of the Florida Keys. The Keys are all about relaxing and taking it slow, and you can definitely do that here! There are tons of activities to fill your days with and it’s always nice to have a day or two for enjoying downtime on the beach. 

A longer itinerary makes day trips the Everglades, Miami, and/or Key West more feasible, as you won’t feel like you’re missing out on Key Largo itself.  

A dramatic pink and purple cloudy sunset over the water in Key Largo.
Key Largo has gorgeous sunsets!

How to Get to Key Largo

Miami International Airport (MIA) is the gateway to Key Largo and the Florida Keys. This is a big, international airport with lots of flight options and connections. From here it takes about 90 minutes to drive to Key Largo. Buses operated by Greyhound and FlixBus run between the Intermodal Center and Key Largo but only in the morning.

Key West International Airport (EYW) is another option, about two hours from Key Largo, although there are significantly fewer flight options. If you’re starting or ending your trip in Key West, this can be a good option. Sometimes I fly into Miami and out of Key West.

Buses and Uber do operate throughout the Keys, but this is very much a driving destination, and renting a car will make your life much easier. Find deals on rental cars here.

Two bright orange deck chairs in front of two short palm trees under a blue sky at the Kona Kai Resort in Key Largo
Relaxing at the Kona Kai in Key Largo

Where to Stay in Key Largo

There are hotels dotted along either side of the Overseas Highway throughout Key Largo. If you’re set on beach time, it’s definitely worth booking accommodation with a private beach, as public beaches on the island are few and far between.

Luxury: The Kona Kai Resort and Gallery is a dreamy adults-only property set amid a botanical garden next to mile marker 98. Tropical bungalows grant easy access to the Florida Bay where you can paddle, swim, and surrender to gorgeous sunsets. I stayed here and really enjoy it!

Midrange: You can bring the whole gang to the Atlantic Bay Resort in Tavernier and splurge on one of the beachfront suites or cottages. All of these have kitchen facilities and access to the hotel’s private beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Budget: The Seafarer Key Largo Resort and Beach is the perfect place to stay in the Keys on a budget. It’s basically a motel but with the soothing sound of ocean waves replacing the usual highway rabble! Breakfast is on the house and there are free kayaks for guests. 

Find deals on places to stay in Key Largo here.

A white speedboat in bright blue water alongside a mangrove in Key Largo, Florida.

Best Time to Visit Key Largo

Spring is the best time to visit Key Largo (and the rest of the Florida Keys). The winter sun frenzy peters off after the holidays with March, April, and May offering mild weather and affordable accommodation plus fewer other tourists hogging the pool. 

Temperatures hover around the 70s and 80s and the humidity drops to bearable. Any rainfall will be short and sweet; use the excuse for a pre-sunset nap. And I think this is a perfect time for swimming in the water! Winter can be a little on the chilly side at times.

The worst time to visit Key Largo is during the hurricane season. This season technically runs from June until November although tropical cyclones are most common in September and October. I encourage you to avoid the Keys during September and October, and if you get caught in a severe storm, listen to the authorities and do as they say.

Read More: Best Time to Visit the Florida Keys

Kate taking a smiling selfie wearing reflective aviator glasses, and holding a palm up to her face.

Is Key Largo Worth It?

Absolutely, Key Largo is so worth it! This is one of the best spots in all of the Florida Keys, and I think any good Keys vacation deserves a few days here!

Go take your trip to Key Largo — or hopefully the entire archipelago of the Florida Keys. I truly hope you enjoy yourself!

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Have you been to Key Largo? What do you suggest? Share away!

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