Road trips don’t come more spectacular than the Overseas Highway.
Sailing through tropical savanna over the Florida Straits, it links Miami on the mainland with the 180-kilometer-long Florida Keys island chain. Most visitors head straight to Key West, the southernmost city in the continental United States, but if they stopped along the way they’d find secluded islands, historic shipwrecks and some of the best fishing holes in the country.
Not to mention turtles, dolphins and North America’s smallest species of deer.
While there are plenty of things to do on land in the northernmost Florida Key, the best sites are found just below the waterline. Key Largo is one of the world’s top spots for divers. A few kilometers offshore the sandy bottom is dotted with natural and man-made reefs and the skeletons of historic shipwrecks. Divers can explore the sunken hulls of British freighters, steam engines and rescue ships, and give a high-five to the upturned arms of the Christ of the Abyss statue.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge is the self-proclaimed world’s first underwater hotel. After checking in, guests dive 8.5 meters to their rooms. The former research lab features two bedrooms each with a meter-wide portal where you can watch grouper, snapper and the occasional manatee pass through the lagoon. The highlight of the stay is having a pizza — or a lobster dinner — delivered to the room by scuba diver.
Helen Anne Travis is a Florida-based writer who specializes in food, drink and culture. She blogs at FromWayUpHigh.