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Hawaii's Top 10 best beaches!

Location - Everglades

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK

Everglades National Park consists of protected wetlands and designated waters of Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The wetlands portion of the park is actually an extension of the Florida Mainland. From the Upper Keys, the park is easily accessible by boat. Land lubbers can access the park from Florida City which is the first town on the mainland (about twenty miles north of Key Largo).
The park was established in 1947 to preserve the primitive conditions of this sub-tropical wilderness, and it is the largest U.S. park east of the Rocky Mountains. The park consists of 137 miles of coastline and 484,200 acres in Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Everglades National Park is home to more than 400 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, 60 species of amphibians/reptiles and 125 species of fish. There are several entrances to the park. The main entrance can be found by heading west on Palm Drive in Florida City* and following the signs. The admission fee at the main entrance is $10.00 per car or $5.00 per pedestrian.
Programs and activities include ranger led walks and talks, boat tours. There are also hiking, biking and canoe trails. There are three campgrounds in the park with tent and RV sites, restrooms, and water (certain campgrounds require advance reservations which can be made by calling 1-800-365-2267). Backcountry camping is also available. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance before entering the backcountry. There three backcountry sites available by foot, and an additional 43 sites in Florida Bay, along the gulf coast and inland are accessible by boat and canoe. Fishing in the park is allowed, however, fisherman must have the appropriate saltwater/freshwater fishing licenses. For more information on Everglades National Park, visit the Everglades National Park home page.

*The is only one traffic light in Florida City, and it is the intersection of Palm Drive and U.S. #1 . If you are coming from the North, you will encounter this intersection in Florida City immediately after you exit the Florida Turnpike. If you are headed from the Keys, it is first intersection after the 18 mile stretch form Key Largo.
Location - Key Largo

JOHN PENNEKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK

Key Largo m.m. 102.5
Telephone number: (305) 451-1202
Camping: 47 full facility sites
Boat Ramp: yes
Concessions: yes
Pets: yes, but very restricted (call).
Equipment Rentals: boats, dive and snorkel gear.
Activities: canoeing, kayaking, fishing, glass bottom boat tours, picnic area, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling trips, and viewing rafts.
Comments: there is a nature trail inside the park. A bike path runs along side the entrance for biking, jogging and walking. In the parks visitors center you are introduced to the underwater beauty of sea life in a 30,000 gallon above ground tank. They also offer films about the park, reefs and the sea life that lives there. Admission begins at $2.50 for one person.
Location - Tavernier


Harry Harris Park

Tavernier Key - M.M. 93.5
Telephone number: (305) 852-7161
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: yes
Concession: no
Pets: yes, but restricted
Equipment Rentals: none
Activities: fishing, swimming basin, children's playground, picnic areas with charcoal grills, softball field and basketball courts. Comments: very nice boat ramps. Good place to launch for access to both Key Largo and Islamorada. Nice place to spend the day with the family. Man made beach.
Location - Islamorada


INDIAN KEY STATE HISTORIC SITE

Comments: Indian Key is rich with history and makes for a very fun trip. There is literature on the island with a map and narrative on the island's history. The island is only a few hundred yards offshore and can be reached by kayak or canoe. If you have your own small boat, kayak or canoe, you can launch it at Indian Key Fill (you will see a sign for Indian Key fill at about m.m. 78.5 as you are headed south).
Location - Islamorada

LIGNUMVITAE KEY STATE BOTANICAL SITE

Lignumvitae Key m.m. 78.5
Telephone number: (305) 664-4815
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: no
Pets: unknown
Equipment Rentals: none
Activities: guided walks.
Comments: must be accessed by boat. Park is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Guided walks are available at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Thursday through Monday at a fee of $1.00 per person. This isolated Key supports multiple trees that are native to the tropics. You can launch a very small boat (inflatable, canoe) at Indian Key fill (m.m. 78.5) on the Bay side to reach this Key.
Location - Islamorada

ANNE'S BEACH

Lower Matecumbe - M.M. 73.8
Telephone number: (305)-292-4560
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: no
Pets: yes. A fun place for rover.
Equipment Rentals: none
Activities: fishing, swimming, picnic areas.
Comments: nice little beach area. Very nice for sunbathing.
Location - Long Key

LONG KEY STATE RECREATION AREA

Long Key m.m. 67.5
Telephone number: (305) 664-4815
Camping: yes
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: no
Pets: yes, in day-use area only, not in Camping Area.
Equipment Rentals: canoes
Activities: fishing, snorkeling, swimming, picnic area, nature trail.
Comments: one of the few state parks that allow campfires. Admission is $3.25 per vehicle and .50 per person. Offers natural shoreline for swimming & snorkeling. Quiet, peaceful park.
Location - Marathon

SOMBRERO BEACH

Marathon m.m. 50
Telephone number: (305) 292-4560
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: no
Pets: yes
Equipment Rentals: none
Activities: swimming, snorkeling, picnic areas.
Comments: if you are heading south, you reach the park by making a left at Sombrero Boulevard (borders the K-Mart shopping center). Park has small playground and limited picnic facilities.
Location - Bahia Honda

VETERAN'S MEMORIAL PARK

M.M. 40 (Little Duck Key)
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: no
Pets: yes
Equipment Rentals: none
Comments: this park is located at the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge. It has a nice beach, with picnic areas and restrooms.
Location - Bahia Honda

BAHIA HONDA STATE PARK

Bahia Honda Key - M.M. 37
Telephone number: (305)-872-2353
Camping: yes, 80 sites available
Boat Ramp: yes
Concessions: yes
Pets: yes, but very restricted
Equipment Rentals: boats, dive and snorkel gear,
fishing rods, kayaks, bicycles, and even beach chairs.
Activities: fishing, snorkeling, diving, swimming,
picnic area, nature trail, parasailing.
Comments: this park offers three duplex cabins that
sleep six people each. Very nice beach area. This is
another very beautiful and peaceful park. A portion of
Henry Flagler's railroad remains at the park. Nice
proximity to Key West. Admission is $4.00 per car and .50 per person.
Location - Big Pine Key

NATIONAL KEY DEER REFUGE

While visiting the Lower Keys, be sure to plan a stop on Big Pine Key, home of the National Key Deer refuge. These tiny deer are not found anywhere else in the world. It is believed that the Key deer migrated to the Keys from the mainland thousands of years ago. The Wisconsin Glacier melted, and the sea rose dividing the land into small islands now known as the Florida Keys and trapping the deer. The Key deer are a subspecies of the Virginia white-tailed deer and are the smallest of all white-tailed deer. The shoulder height of the Key deer is between 24 - 28 inches. Does weigh 45 to 65 pounds while bucks weigh 55 to 75. At birth, the Key deer weighs only 2 to 4 pounds. They feed on native plants and can tolerate small amounts of salt in their water. With only 250 to 300 of these tiny deer remaining, Federal law prohibits the disturbance and feeding of the deer. Driving on Big Pine Key will almost always provide you with a photo opportunity of the Key deer from your car. But trying to approach, feed or touch the deer, only encourages them to loose their natural fear of humans and become easy targets for would-be poachers. When on Big Pine Key, respect the Key deer and their habitat. Take a photo, it will last forever. We'd like for the Key deer to as well.
Location - Key West

SMATHERS BEACH

Location: south side of Key West on South Roosevelt Blvd.
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: yes, offered through private vendors.
Pets: not allowed on the beach
Equipment rentals: private vendors offer various items for rent in this area such as beach chairs, umbrellas , kayaks, windsurfers and jet-skis. Para-sailing rides are also available.

Comments: very nice beach area.
Location - Key West

FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR

Fort Zachary Taylor is located at the end of Southard street in Key West. Named after U.S. President Zachary Taylor, the fort is a perfect example of the wealth of history Florida has to offer. Construction of the fort began in 1845, shortly after Florida became a state. Throughout the 1850's construction was slow. Yellow fever, shortage of materials and men, remoteness and hurricanes had slowed down progress. The fort, located in Key West, was an important outpost during the Civil War. Numerous blockade-running ships were detained at Key West harbor and guarded by Fort Taylor's cannons. Twenty-one years later (1866), construction was complete on the fort offering many impressive features. Items such as sanitary facilities flushed by the tide and a desalination plant which produced drinking water from the sea were available. With the coming of the 20th century, more sophisticated weapons and eventually radar took the place of guns. By 1947 the army turned Fort Taylor over to the Navy to maintain. Beginning in 1968, excavations for old armaments in the gun rooms uncovered guns and ammunition from the Civil War. This represents only a fraction of the buried arsenal, which is the largest collection of Civil War cannons in the U.S.. Fort Taylor was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and in 1973 was designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1976, the Florida Park Service began managing the fort which was officially opened to the public in July of 1985.
Telephone number: (305) 292-6713
Camping: no
Boat Ramp: no
Concessions: yes
Pets: can't go into the fort or on the beach.
Equipment Rentals: none
Activities: fishing, snorkeling, swimming, picnic area.
Gates open at 8:00a.m. and close at sunset daily. Guided tours at noon and 2:00 p.m.. Admission is $1.50 for walk-ins. By automobile, the fee is $2.50 per person for the first two people and .50 for each person in excess of two.
Location - Key West***

* Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas but is accessible from Key West.

FORT JEFFERSON - DRY TORTUGAS

Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, about 68 miles from Key West. The Dry Tortugas are part of the National Park system and can only be accessed by boat or sea plane. Construction of the fort began in 1846, and it was almost complete at the time the Civil War started. It was originally erected to be the largest fort in the coastal defense system with some 450 guns and 1500 men, however, the fort was never attacked and its value to coastal defense was rendered almost useless by the invention of the rifled cannon. After the Civil War, the fort served as a prison with its most famous prisoner being Dr.Samuel A. Mudd. Dr. Mudd was the physician that set the broken leg of James Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. It was abandoned for a period beginning in 1874, but subsequently served as a navy base (Spanish-American War), a seaplane port (WW I) and observation post (W.W.II).
Telephone number: 1-305 242-7700
Camping: yes, $3.00 per person per night. Sites are located just outside of the fort.
Concessions: no
Pets: not allowed
Comments: a multitude of packages to this area are available from Key West that include camping and snorkel packages.