Beach at Founders Park, Islamorada
🇺🇸Florida Keys

Unpacking The Florida Keys and Key West – September 2019

Editor’s note: As anyone who follows us on social media already knows, we ventured a bit outside of our Caribbean comfort zone last week. Our destination: The Florida Keys and Key West! Our mission: to uncover authentic elements of the West Indies in the Keys. Helping us along the way: Toyota. We teamed with the global automotive giant to ensure that our wheels would be more than capable of handling whatever the Florida Keys had to offer. Apropos of our usual adventurous style, Toyota hooked us up with a rugged 2019 RAV4 Adventure for our trip. How did go? Here’s a sneak preview…

Florida Keys and Key West Post-Trip Mood

You know that feeling you get when you know you have unfinished business? I couldn’t shake it the whole way driving home from the Keys. There seemed to be something we missed or didn’t get a chance to do at just about every mile marker heading north. Indeed, the Florida Keys and Key West have a lot to offer, especially if you love boating. But, what, you might be asking, about our mission? Are there any real, authentic Caribbean anything’s in the Keys..?

World's Largest Lobster in Islamorada
Toyota RAV4 Adventure Meets World’s Largest Lobster in Islamorada | Credit: Patrick Bennett

The Good

The answer, I’m happy to say, is yes. It’s a small yes, mind you, but a yes nonetheless. Echoes of the Caribbean are mostly confined to Keys culinary delights. Top spots not-to-be-missed include La Niña Restaurant in Marathon. The Cuban eats here are positively on-point! The prices are nice too, plus I even got a chance to sample a new-to-me Jarritos flavor! (I’ll have updated tasting notes added to our earlier Jarritos post soon…) Also great down on Stock Island is Yahman’s. This authentic jerk shack serving up homemade sorrel and ginger beer had me feeling like I was truly back a yard!

Yahman's Jerk Shack Yard
This yard at Yahman’s Jerk Shack on Stock Island had me feeling like I was back a yard fi real! | SBPR

The Bad

Somehow, somewhat amazingly, we didn’t catch one single sunset during our week-long journey through the Keys. Poor weather conspired against us on a couple of occasions, but truly the blame lay at our own four feet. We were all-too-often too busy exploring and/or driving around in our sexy RAV4 to make time for sunset.

Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida Keys
The Turtle Hospital in Marathon is a must-stop for turtle lovers | SBPR

The Great

Getting out on the water is a MUST when visiting the Florida Keys and Key West. If you love a little history mixed in with your adventuring at sea then you won’t want to miss the The Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson. Our full-day visit here was the highlight of our trip, as much owing to the impressive fort as the park’s incredible beaches.

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park
The views from high atop the ramparts of Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park are simply stunning | SBPR

The pure clear azure seas here reminded me a bit of The Bahamas; the soft white sand a near-match for North Caicos.

Beach within the Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Keys
Beach within the Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Keys | SBPR

If there is a heaven for uncommon travelers in the Florida Keys and Key West, then the Dry Tortugas are certainly it. This goes double, I’m sure, if you get to camp here overnight. There’s zero electricity. No cell signal either. Just you, the fort, the sea, and what must be a simply stunning view of the stars at night.

It is the dream of living this experience that has me most anxious to return to the Florida Keys… That, and all the other stuff we missed along our drive.

Thanks to our friends at Toyota and The Florida Keys and Key West for helping us to live this incredible adventure! Stay tuned for more expanded stories on all that we experienced (and more) in the coming weeks…


Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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