Welcome to The Fishing Capital of the World.
Mention Islamorada (pronounced EYE-la-mor-AH-da) and visions of game fish leaping into the air pop into your mind. Think of two completely different bodies of water brimming with some of the world’s most sought after gamefish, just a few short miles apart. Sailfish, Marlin, Tuna and Dolphin in the deep water of the Atlantic. Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit in the shallow water of the backcountry waters of Florida Bay. Add Snapper, Grouper, Shark and Barracuda throughout all the waters and mix in some of the finest charter boat captains and backcountry guides, and you have the recipe for Islamorada, Sport Fishing Capital of the World.
Islamorada Area Parks
Indian Key State Historic Site
During the 1830s, Jacob Housman advertised his hotel on Indian Key as a therapeutic retreat for the ailing. During his short tenure on this 11-acre island, Jacob managed to add vast improvements, increasing the population to over 100 residents.
Indian Key is less than a mile SE of Lower Matecumbe Key. 10 acres in size and with no bridge from the Overseas Highway, it doesn’t look like a place of historic significance. Yet Indian Key has had a very colorful past. A past quite important to early Florida history. Prior to the 1830 this island was occupied by prehistoric Native Americans. Beginning in the 1830s this small key was the seat of newly created Dade County. The foundations of buildings and cisterns on the island date back to this prosperous time.
Tour boat service to the island is available through “Robbie’s Marina.” For reservations and fees, please call (305) 664-9814. Tour boat departs 1/2-hour before listed tour times.
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
This islands charm is revealed in the a portion of the parks name “Botanical”. You’ll will enjoy seeing many more than plants and trees on this 280-acre island then any other in the Keys. You’ll have plenty of bird species identify and photograph.
One of the prize finds here are the tiny tree snails unique to the Keys. These snails were more highly prized than escargot. Collectors around the world couldn’t get enough of these beautiful shells. Locals realized their value and were more than happy to provide them. The shells had different color variations and patterns from key to key.
It became common for shell collectors to set fire to an island, after collecting as many shells as they could, in order to increase the rarity and therefore their selling price.
Fortunately Lignumvitae Key was never burned and so contains one of the last virgin hammocks in the Keys. The snails here are quite beautiful with cream-colored shells with bands of red and green.
The lignumvitae tree is believed to live a thousand years. It is a native of the Caribbean with seeds brought to the Keys by wind and wave.
Ranger-led tours are conducted on the island Thursday through Monday at 10:30 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm. If the state-run boat is not operating, you will need to hire a boat from a local marina, and the ranger must be notified to meet you at the docks. For complete information call (305) 664-4815.
For those looking for something different the shops and galleries along the Overseas Highway in Islamorada and at the Rain Barrel on Plantation Key reveal another type of Keys Treasure; arts, crafts, and other creative island treasures.