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Islamorada my favorite place in the Keys

September 30, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Every couple of years I make my way south to the Keys for a sun and fun scenery change.

From Cape Coral it's an easy 225-mile drive to beautiful Islamorada then another 80 miles or so to Key West. Fast ferry service is provided locally.

Be warned, this last slow stretch below Islamorada is posted at 45 mph daytime and 35 mph at night. Strictly enforced to protect the tiny Keys deer.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

To make sure Bambi is well protected there are numerous local law enforcement officers all along this slow motion stretch willing to stop and chat with you about deer protection as well as speed enforcement.

Everyone has their favorite spot in the Keys, but Islamorada with its clean, laid back island atmosphere, great accommodations, food, and world class fishing and diving on either side of the road, is definitely mine.

Right above is Pennekamp State Park for snorkelers and divers that prefer to swim with the beautiful tropical reef fish.

Many places in the Keys no real diving experience is required at all. Grab one of the many daily reef charters for a short ride. Put on a mask and simply float and look down as many reefs are very shallow.

Looking down, your first sight of a big brilliant blue and golden queen angelfish circling a reef will be a lifetime memory.

If you have just come in from the north sporting a snow white tan, be warned if snorkeling. Wear a T-shirt or wet suit top. Watch the sun on your back as it takes very little time to fry you to blisters.

Clear hull rental kayaks are the rage all through the Keys and are really cool.

Right below Islamorada you'll find Bud & Mary's Marina (photo on page 13A), home to world class in- and offshore fishing. Some of the best guides in Florida work there and friendly service is standard.

Swordfish to permit fishing, there is an experienced captain there to help you with your fishing bucket list.

The largest bonefish in the world call this section of the upper Keys home. My first over 10-pound drag screaming bonefish was caught in sight of the marina on 6-pound test and very light rod.

Further down to Bahia Honda State Mark and the 7-mile Bridge is a world famous spring tarpon hole.

Big Pine, Marathon, the many islands and communities on the way south to Key West each a fishing and water paradise with its own special story and history.

A bit off kilter Key West has roaming street chickens and iguanas. Restaurants and famous bars all share a unique history and location as well great fishing.

A people watcher's paradise, locals scurry to work early season jobs, tourists, and a vast selection of strange and bizarre folks celebrate their weirdness, especially at night.

Turning left onto Duvall Street is my hotel. I was greeted by a really tall being in a complete Darth Vader costume playing a banjo. I stopped for directions, but the overwhelming smell of alcohol and marijuana made me refrain from taking his advice as to the location of my quarters.

Possibly it was my fear of miscommunication as I also have trouble with alien languages.

My favorite Keys activities are the up close and personal experiences with the tarpon there - both the hook-and-line variety and being able to observe and feed them dockside during the trip.

The most famous is Robbie's Marina below Islamorada where you can purchase a bucket of fish and feed the resident dock dog tarpon that live there in luxury.

Highly recommended and no fishing allowed.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or, or



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