NAS Key WestCommunity
Islamorada is widely regarded as the sport-fishing capital of the world with two area seas brimming with inhabitants ready for the taking. Sailfish, tuna, bonefish and tarpon are just a few of the local inhabitants, as well as hundreds of other sought-after game fish. If observation is more your game, Islamorada has massive reefs and the bay itself to explore and photograph.
All the Keys share a similar history; however, the rocks surrounding Islamorada (as well as the other islands) led Ponce de Leon to call the area “Los Martieres” or “The Martyrs.” De Leon wrote, “… the rocks, from far away, appeared to be men in the throes of suffering.” The name stuck, mainly due to the sheer volume of ships wrecked on the rocky shoals and the men lost at sea when the aforementioned vessels sank.
See the Eagle, an intentionally sunk ship that serves as a dive attraction. The Windley Key was once two islands known as the Umbrella Keys. The water between was filled in, resulting in one island with a center of loosely sedimented rock. The main quarry complex is now a Florida Park Service geological site. The quarry was once the location of Mizner Industries (1928), a service that would channel out fossilized coral and ship it to Miami, where it would be finished into a marble-like product. The process involved a channeling machine — a gasoline-powered, track-run chiseling device that would essentially separate the rock so that it could be cut and cubed in large volume. The rusted skeleton of the channeling machine still stands on the northernmost rim of the quarry. The area also houses the Theater of the Sea, which gives adults and children the chance to swim with dolphins, as well as snorkeling and viewing of indigenous wildlife. At Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site, you can ascend to the highest elevation in the Keys — a staggering 18 feet.