Islamorada - Indian Key



Plantation Key

Plantation Key is located just south of Key Largo and Tavernier at mile marker 91. It is approximately 6.5 miles long.

Plantation Key was inhabited by Native Americans at least 1,000 years before European contact with the Americas. A large mound was formerly located towards the northeastern end of the key. Artifacts removed from the mound were dated to A.D. 500 to 700.

Immigrants from the Bahamas began settling on Plantation Key in the middle of the 19th Century. Two families were recorded on the key in the 1870 census. Several more families had moved to the key by 1880. The settlers raised coconuts and pineapples. The pineapples were shipped by schooner to northern U.S. ports.

The completion of the Overseas Railroad, which ran the length of Plantation Key, destroyed the agricultural economy of the island. The Florida East Coast Railway began shipping pineapples from Cuba at such low prices that the growers in the Keys could not compete. Prohibition brought new industry to Plantation Key, however, as the close proximity of the Florida Keys to the Bahamas made the keys, including Plantation Key, convenient landing places for bootleggers.


Islamorada

The name Islamorada, meaning "purple island", came from early Spanish explorers in the area.

The Village of Islamorada covers the entire Plantation Key since it was incorporated in 1997. Islamorada, a "Village of Islands," actually covers the islands of Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key.

Islamorada, long recognized as the "Sport Fishing Capital of the World," is now an icon among sport divers for a similar reason: a massive population of tropical marine life. High profile coral heads and broad ledges shelter huge congregates of French grunt and goatfish, while regal queen angelfish casually graze amid the reef recesses. Friendly green moray eels swim freely along the spur-and-groove channels, and reclusive nurse sharks lurk beneath the overhangs. Islamorada offers a wide variety of shallow coral reefs, mini walls, shipwrecks, and even an underwater habitat for scientific research, the Aquarius.

* The Eagle - This 287-foot ship was intentionally sunk in 110 feet of water as a dive attraction and rests on her starboard side cloaked in a colorful patina of encrusting sponge and coral, populated by huge schools of grunt, tarpon, and jack.

  * Davis Reef - This reef is revered for its incredible concentration of grunts and schoolmaster snapper, as well as several amiable resident green morays, long accustomed to benign interaction with the dive masters.

* Alligator Reef - Now marked by a 136-foot-tall lighthouse, on this spot in 1822 the USS Alligator grounded and sank while protecting a convoy from pirates. Now all that remains of the wreck are the twin piles of ballast stones, but the coral reef - in just 25 feet of water - is vibrant and alive.

* Conch Wall - Offering an exciting change of pace from the normal spur-and-groove profiles of most keys' reefs, Conch Wall presents a precipitous sloping wall and captivating concentrations of barrel sponge and gorgonia punctuating the seafloor.

* Crocker Wall - A 450+-foot-long wall in 50 feet of water. The wall has a thirty-foot decline and features grunts, yellowtail and grouper with spur-and-groove coral and block coral on the wall.

* Pickles Reef - For macro photo enthusiasts, Pickles provides a wonderful opportunity to encounter the reef's minutia, from flamingo tongue cowries to banded coral shrimp, all amid a dynamic coral reef in only 15 to 25 feet of water.

Also be sure to visit the History of Diving Museum.


Windley Key

Windley Key is an island located near mile markers 84, between Plantation Key and Upper Matecumbe Key and is approximately 1.5 miles long.

All of the key is within the Village of Islamorada. Windley Key is home to Theater of the Sea, a popular tourist attraction since 1946. A Florida State Park Service geological site, and the popular Holiday Isle resort are also on the island.

Theater of the Sea, established in 1946, is a marine mammal park located in the Village of Islamorada. Visitors can swim with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, and Sting Rays, or watch shows where they perform. In which dolphins swim in and jump through a hoop and ring a bell. The 17-acre site also has exotic birds, lizards, crocodilians , sea turtles, tropical, game fish, sharks, and other forms of marine life. Short cruises and bottomless boat rides are also available. The park also engages in ecological conservation programs, including the first artificial flipper transplant on a sea turtle.


Upper & Lower Matecumbe Key

Upper Matecumbe Key is located near mile markers 79 between Windley Key and Lower Matecumbe Key and is approximately 4.5 miles long. All of the key is within the Village of Islamorada. There are a number of Indian mounds and habitation sites located here.

Lower Matecumbe Key is located near mile markers 75 southwest of Upper Matecumbe Key, and to the northeast of Craig Key and is approximately 3 miles long. All of the key is within the Village of Islamorada. It is home to the main base of the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base.

Lower Matecumba Key is the site of a number of Indian mounds and middens. A popular local attraction is Anne's Beach, located at mile marker 74 on the east side (oceanside) of the roadway.


Teatable Key

Teatable Key is a small island located near mile marker 75. The island lies to the southwest of Upper Matecumbe Key, and to the northeast of Lower Matecumbe Key. All of the key is within the Village of Islamorada. There is a small public beach on the island.


Indian Key

Indian Key State Historic Site is an island within the Florida State Park system located just a few hundred yards southeast of U.S. 1 and is not accessible by land. The island was briefly inhabited in the middle of the 19th century, but is now an uninhabited ghost town. It is frequently visited by tourists, and is the subject of an archaeological project to uncover the historic building foundations. The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.