We did a bit of research on staying on a lake somewhere in the south and couldn’t find a place that we really liked, so we decided to head further south. The Florida Keys, Key Largo, to be specific, is only four and a half hours from our place in Tampa. There were no tropical depressions/cyclones/hurricanes on the horizon, so we booked three days at a resort that Jef researched. He chose this resort because you get your own bungalow, they have bikes, kayaks, and paddle boards that you can use for free as well as a pool and it is on the water (Tarpon Basin). As you are driving south from Miami, there is no sign announcing Largo Resort, so you need to pay attention to the GPS.
The office is located on the left and you drive down a half circle drive and exit through these same doors. All the bungalows are the same. The living room has a Murphy bed, with a couch, coffee table and chairs in front. There is a small living room with two chairs, a tv, and a full bath, so you could have another couple or child(ren) staying out in that area. There is also a mini fridge/freezer, microwave, and nespresso machine.
The bedroom, as you can see, have double doors to block the bedroom from whoever is staying out in the other room and you each have your own air conditioners that you can control. The bed is the softest, most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. We are going to check to see the brand before we leave! However, the other furniture in the bungalow is super uncomfortable. The bed more than made up for it, though.
The first morning we were here, we decided to try out the paddle boards. Neither of us have ever been on one and it was nice to be able to try it without the cost of renting it for an hour. I was very nervous about it because I am not a big fan of salt water and there were A LOT of jellyfish in the shallow, see through water. Jef’s paddle board was taking on water, so we think something was wrong with it. He got up fine, but gave up quickly since it was filled with water. I was more hesitant, but stood up easily. I paddled over to watch the dolphins in the enclosure next door to the resort. We both felt like it was more of a dolphin jail since it is so small, but it was still cool to watch and listen to them. I can’t believe people pay over $100 to hang out there with them though. I would not suggest it. After paddling, we swam in the pool all alone for about an hour. It was lovely. We decided to try the double kayak this morning and again spent alone time for about an hour after in the pool.
My favorite place in the keys, is by far, the Turtle Hospital on Marathon. We made reservations for a 3pm tour and stopped for lunch at Lazy Days on Islamorada on the way down. I had a blackened tuna sandwich that was excellent and we sat out on the upper deck overlooking the water. It was a perfect island eatery. At the Turtle Hospital, they bring you on about an hour an a half tour. We decided to become members and therefore are granted free admission for the next year. We also received a sticker, magnet, membership cards, discounts on store merchandise, and a t-shirt. It is well worth it. The first half hour of the tour is a video presentation for you to get to know the types of turtles that they deal with at the hospital. After you get to view the surgical area and we were lucky to see a new arrival. The turtle had been spotted by a person parasailing and had fishing line wrapped around it, causing it problems swimming.
I love this turtle hospital because their main objective is to help the turtles get back in the wild. Last year they had something like 89 turtles and released 74. There are some turtles that cannot be released and those are ones that have what they call bubble butt. It is when air gathers inside the shell area after being struck by a boat and does not allow them to dive. The hospital applies weights to the back of the shell so that they are able to dive, but they cannot be released because as they grow, they outgrow the weight and would not be able to eat in the wild.
The hospital is located at an old hotel and the staff stays on site and visiting doctors stay there as well for short periods of time. The old hotel pool is now the home of a number of turtles who cannot be released, like Bubble Butt. There are also smaller tanks around the pool with turtles recovering from surgery and waiting to be released. It’s amazing the work that they do there trying to save the turtles from human interference and contamination. I buy as much as I can when I go there and I also have a turtle license plate, which helped them buy an “ambulance” to transport the turtles. It’s so nice to see where your donation helps the turtles.
After our turtle hospital tour, we stopped at Islamorada Brewing and Distillery. They have a good selection of beer for all type of beer lovers. We went during happy hour in which you BOGO any pint, except for specialty batches. There also specials for cocktails. Jef had a Key Lime Coconut Ale and I had a Raspberry Ale. They were both excellent. You can buy tasters of both beer and cocktails as well and we saw a lot of people who chose that option. I would definitely go back to try more flavors.
On our last day, I brought Jef to Robbie’s to feed the tarpon. I went last year with a group of students and it was fun for everyone. The tarpon are so big, both in length and width and there are so many of them. I enjoyed just watching them swim around. My arms were not long enough to feed them right into their mouths, but Jef could do it easily. I either dropped the bait into the water right next to the tarpon or I threw it to watch them fight for it.
Our last dinner was our favorite during our stay. We went to the Lazy Lobster on Key Largo. When you sit down they give you a bread basket with warm bread including a small loaf of banana bread that was very tasty. Jef ordered a yellowtail that was pan fried with crushed almonds, Parmesan cheese, and a key lime butter. He loved it and he is a very picky eater. I was surprised he tried it. I order the Lobster Islamorada which is a Florida lobster tail with mushrooms, scallions, shallots, scallops, and shrimp with a key lime butter. It was delicious. The key lime gave everything a nice tang. Although I have never been a big Florida lobster fan, they cooked it just right and I enjoyed it. The waitstaff was excellent and very attentive. Our waitress was the best I have had in a long time. She was helpful, funny, and quick to get us everything we needed. It was the perfect way to finish the culinary part of our trip.
The best part of our stay was that it felt like we were at the resort alone. Every morning we could chose whether to use the kayaks or paddle boards and one evening we even went out for a bike ride. Our mornings kayaking and hanging out at the pool were very peaceful. Next trip we will stay further south in the keys so we can explore Key West.