Islamorada, Florida

Living in Islamorada

Iyna Bort Caruso

On some resort islands, sunshine and sandy beaches are enough of a lure.

But on Islamorada, in the upper Florida Keys, they’re just the backdrop for a lifestyle on the go.

And on the sea.

Islamorada is a sports fishing capital and big-time diving destination.

Among the 125-mile-long chain of islands that make up the Florida Keys, Islamorada is a mini-archipelago unto itself. It’s located just 90 minutes south of one of the world’s most vibrant cities--Miami--and about two hours north of Key West, the southernmost spot in the continental United States.

The density of professional charter boats in Islamorada is huge. Anglers have access to both the deep sea game fishing of the Atlantic Ocean as well as bonefishing in the shallow, protected backcountry waters of Florida Bay. Not surprisingly, the fish-filled waters are responsible for the region’s acclaimed dock-to-table cuisine.

The Keys are home to the only living coral reef in North America, which accounted for a lucrative wrecking industry in the early 19th century when valuables were salvaged from ships that ran aground. Today, the reef draws divers to the abundant marine life as well as to sunken ships. The History of Diving Museum is dedicated to all things under the sea. It has one of the largest collections of diving gear, books and memorabilia in the world.

The diving museum isn’t the only attraction on dry land. Islamorada has the Keys History and Discovery Center, the Theater of the Sea marine mammal park, numerous state parks and a compact arts district with an Art Walk held the third Thursday of every month.

The Islamorada lifestyle is flip flop relaxed, but it offers a luxury kind of chill, especially in its property offerings. Within the handful of distinct neighborhoods are stilt homes, residences in gated communities, condominiums waterfront estates on both the ocean and the bay.