Far from the motels and the honky-tonk, Ocean Drive travels down U.S. 1 and discovers the secret sophistication of the Florida Keys.
Sunset cocktails on the floating tiki bar at Bungalows Key Largo (bungalowskeylargo.com), an all-inclusive property located 63 miles south of Miami
We are here to tell you that the slips of islands that make up the Florida Keys are far more dynamic than meets the eye. Sure, there are the guidebook hot spots (Hemingway’s six-toed cats, sunsets in Mallory Square), but the tropical archipelago is also home to many hidden gems: fish shacks serving five-star dinners, roadside diners with mouthwatering Key lime muffins and secret beaches that feel miles from home. Join us on a trip down the Overseas Highway.
Where to stay without kids
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key
A private bungalow at Little Palm Island
A vintage wood-paneled yacht takes guests from Little Torch Key (about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Miami) to Little Palm Island, a South Seas fantasy isle with thatched-roof cottages deliberately fitted with no phones, TVs or internet connections. This is no doubt a place to escape. A best-kept secret of U.S. presidents and celebrities, the resort is located on a lush, private island dotted with crushed seashell paths and tropical foliage. Each of the 15 redesigned bungalows offers vibrant ocean views and plush, all-new interiors. The newly renovated resort also boasts a world-class spa and five-star dining.
lounging on the edge of paradise
the Romance Suite
Where to stay with the kids
Tranquility Bay, Marathon
the main house at Tranquility Bay
Near the base of Seven Mile Bridge sits a property that feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Located on Marathon and situated on 12 gorgeous acres, the Tranquility Bay resort lives up to its name the minute you pull off U.S. 1. Behind the hedges sits a resort offering so many amenities that you rarely have to leave. There’s a private beach, multiple pools, water sports center with kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and waverunners, beach volleyball court, and Nicklaus Design putting green. TJ’s Tiki Bar, located on the beachfront, serves lunch and is a great spot for cocktails at sunset. Butterfly Café restaurant serves dinner and has a covered patio for al fresco dining. Townhouse-style beach houses are ideal for families or groups.
The Tranquility Bay property features a sandy beach and plenty of shade under palm trees.
Where to explore
the underwater paradise surrounding Dry Tortugas National Park
America’s most remote national park has a curious history. Pirates, prisoners and a deadly epidemic once haunted Florida’s Dry Tortugas. Now it’s a tropical haven for wildlife. To get there, you must traverse 70 miles of open water from Key West to the park. You can take Yankee Freedom III, a high-speed ocean-going catamaran, private boat or a seaplane. Once you arrive, the island is yours to explore.
Photography by: From Top: photo courtesy of Bungalows Key Largo; photos courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa; tranquility bar photos courtesy of Tranquility Bay; Dry Tortugas photo by Lee Rentz / Alamy