Sun, Sea and Splendor

Islamorada is a paradise for those who love the water

ANGLING ADVENTURE: Islamorada, a village in the Upper Keys, is informally known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World.

 

On the drive to Islamorada, you can’t miss the sea. Shading from pale turquoise to deep sapphire, it’s everywhere around this small collection of islands. With a slightly more upscale vibe than its laid-back neighbors, Islamorada has plenty of options for exploring the water. Throw in fine dining and a local brewery, and it’s the perfect place to escape for the weekend.

 

ISLAND ESCAPES: Islamorada in the Florida Keys offers tropical destinations for diving and waterside spots for dining and drinks. The History of Diving Museum, bottom, offers a unique opportunity to explore the underwater past.

 

HOW TO GET OUT ON THE WATER

Islamorada is a prime destination for fishing, snorkeling and diving. Just up the road in nearby Tavernier, Conch Republic Divers (90800 Overseas Highway, Tavernier; 305.852.1655; conchrepublicdivers.com) bills itself as the “friendliest dive shop in the Keys.” With expert—and affable—sta and divemasters, it’s a solid operation for both advanced divers and beginners. For fishing excursions, Caribsea Sportfishing (305.522.6101; caribseacharters.com) is a customer favorite. The captain offers a 44-foot sportfishing boat rigged to catch sailfish, cobia, tuna, grouper, snapper and marlin.

 

WHERE TO TAKE A BREAK FROM THE SUN

Though Islamorada has many outdoor options, it’s nice to spend an afternoon in the air conditioning. The History of Diving Museum (82990 Overseas Highway, Islamorada; 305.664.9737; divingmuseum.org) is the perfect spot. The multi-room complex offers a thorough exploration of diving from the ancient Egyptians to modern scuba. With exhibits that are equally interesting for children and adults, plus a top-notch gift shop, the museum is a crowd-pleaser.

 

WHERE TO FILL YOUR BELLY

Islamorada has no shortage of waterfront dining options. If you like fresh seafood, try Wahoo’s Bar and Grill (83413 Overseas Highway, Islamorada; 305.664.9888; wahoosbarandgrill.com), which sits above Whale Harbor Marina. With views that look out over the harbor channel and a menu that features locally caught mahi mahi, stone crabs and grouper, it can’t be beat. The bar has tropical favorites such as daiquiris and rum runners, and don’t miss the tequila-Midori-lime juice blend fittingly called the Green Iguana.

For dinner options that lean more upscale, Ziggie and Mad Dog’s (83000 Overseas Highway, Islamorada; 305.664.3391; ziggieandmaddogs.com) is an excellent bet. Set inside a building that once stood on a pineapple plantation, the restaurant has been transformed into a fine-dining destination. Though the menu features a variety of options, including seafood and pasta, it’s best known for its steaks. This is white tablecloth service at its nest, so leave the cut-offs and flip-flops at home.

 

WHERE TO DRINK A LOCALLY BREWED BEER

Islamorada Beer Company (82229 Overseas Highway, Islamorada; 305.440.2162; islamoradabeerco.com) opened its doors in 2014, and since then the brewery has been serving up its cult-status ales to locals and visitors. Grab a seat in the brewery’s tasting room for a pint of its famous Islamorada Ale, whose light citrus notes pair well with seafood and spicy dishes. If you like your beer a little hoppier, the Channel Marker IPA hits the spot. And the Coconut Key Lime Ale, with its tropical notes, feels just right for sipping in Islamorada.

 

Photos courtesy Caribsea Fishing, Getty, courtesy Islamorada Brewery & Distillery