Key Largo - Tavernier



Key Largo

Key Largo is an island in the upper Florida Keys it is the largest of the Keys at 33 miles long. It is also the northernmost of the Florida Keys in Monroe County, and the northernmost of the Keys connected by U.S. Highway 1 (the Overseas Highway). Its earlier Spanish name was Cayo Largo, meaning Long Key.

Key Largo is connected to the mainland in Miami-Dade County by two routes. The Overseas Highway, which is U.S. Highway 1, enters Key Largo at Jewfish Creek near the middle of the island and turns southwest. Card Sound Road connects to the northern part of Key Largo at Card Sound Bridge and runs southeastward to connect with County Road 905, which runs southwest and joins U.S. 1 at about mile marker 106. These routes originate at Florida City on the mainland.

Key Largo is often referred to as the "Diving Capital of the World" with its living coral reef just a few miles offshore which attracts thousands of scuba divers and sport-fishing enthusiasts. The majority of the reef system off Key Largo was ceded over to the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary in 1975, which was then incorporated into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1990.

Key Largo Wrecks include: The USCGC William J. Duane, a 327ft Coast Guard Cutter, The USCGC George M. Bibb, 327ft. long, The USS Spiegel Grove is 510ft long, The Benwood a British freighter is 360 ft. long, The City of Washington, a steam engine powered Schooner 320 ft. long, and a Spanish Galleon wreck from 1733.


History of Key Largo

Automotive and highway pioneer and Miami Beach developer Carl G. Fisher built Key Largo's famous Caribbean Club in 1938 as his last project.  Fisher developed the Caribbean Club on Key Largo as a fishing club for men of modest means, "a poor man's retreat." It is now a popular bar and lounge.

The island gained fame as the setting for the 1948 film Key Largo starring Humphrey and Lauren Bacall.

Key Largo is situated between Everglades National Park to the north-west and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to the east, the first underwater park in the United States and the site of the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. Key Largo's proximity to the Everglades also makes it a premier destination for kayakers and ecotourists.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park covers approximately 70 nautical square miles. It was the first underwater park in the United States. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1972. The primary attractions of the park are the coral reefs (such as Molasses Reef) and their associated marine life.

The reefs may be viewed from glass-bottom boats, or by snorkeling or scuba diving. Other activities available in the park are canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming and wildlife viewing. Full-facility and youth/group campgrounds are available.

The visitor center features a 30,000-US-gallon saltwater aquarium and six smaller aquaria, as well as natural history exhibits about the park's different biological communities and ecosystems and a theater showing nature videos.

One of the most famous residents of Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the Christ of the Abyss, located near Dry Rocks. The 8.5 foot tall statue of Jesus Christ weighs 4,000 pounds and sits in nearly 25 feet of water. It is a popular site for scuba divers and snorkelers.

The statue is a second casting of Il Cristo Degli Abissi in the Mediterranean Sea near Genoa, Italy, which was placed there in 1954. The Christ of the Abyss was donated to the Underwater Society of America in 1961 by Italian scuba entrepreneur Egidi Cressi and placed in its current location in 1965. In their current position, the two statues face each other.


Tavernier

At the southern end of Key Largo is the town of Tavernier and Tavernier Key just a short distance off shore. Tavernier offers excellent access to many dive sites and is home of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center and Harry Harris Park. The park is a man made beach with excellent boat ramps for access to dive sites. It is also good for fishing and swimming. There is a children's playground, picnic area with charcoal grills, softball field and basketball courts.