Florida keys: angler's reef

Good to know


Road toll

Florida's turnpike has now adopted an all-electronic open road tolling system, implemented in February 2011. This new system is a safer, more efficient, seamless method of collecting tolls from motorists. The car hire companies can have different payment arrangements, so it is advisable to consult them and review your paperwork on what you will be charged.

Respect nature

The Florida Keys are regarded as America’s paradise and a lot of work goes into the conservation of this beautiful area. All sorts of threatened and endangered species depend upon the Florida Keys to survive, so it is vital to help preserve their habitat. Don’t dump garbage or harm or harass any of the wildlife. If you see this happening, report it. The entire Florida Keys are a protected National Marine Sanctuary.

Birds

The Florida Keys are well-known for being an ideal spot for ornithology – a true birdwatchers' paradise. There are opportunities to see rare and unique bird species from April onwards as they pass through the Keys on their journey north. There are various parks offering the chance to spot doves, ruby-throated hummingbirds and perching birds such as redwing blackbirds, as well as many songbirds and pelicans, all on their annual journey.

Marine Life

Florida is the only US state to have extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts, which came into existence 5,000 to 7,000 years ago when sea levels rose following the last Ice Age. Corals are classified as animals, yet microscopic plants live within the animal tissues in a symbiotic relationship. Most of Florida’s sport fish species and many other marine animals spend significant parts of their lives around coral reefs. When you visit the reef, don’t touch the coral or take creatures from their natural environment.

Lobster traps

Florida’s spiny lobster fishery is the largest commercial fishery in the state and uses traps as the primary method of harvest. Lobster traps have owners – taking anything from them is considered a felony. Anyone planning to hunt lobster in Florida territorial waters must have a valid recreational saltwater fishing license as well as a crawfish permit to catch lobster.

Rules and Regulations

If you plan to go fishing and diving on your own, you can find an updated copy of the Rules and Regulations in the front of the local telephone book. Hiring a charter boat or flats guide is advisable for the best fishing. Your captain will be able to offer local expertise and full equipment, and will already possess the necessary state fishing licenses required for all Florida visitors or residents.

Sun Protection

Don’t forget to use sun block – especially when on the water. Children are especially vulnerable, so be sure they are well protected – with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Avoid exposure to sun in the middle of the day and wear a hat if you burn easily.

Mosquito Repellent

It’s always a good idea to take one with you, and those who are particularly sensitive to insect bites should cover up well too. Available repellents currently on the market are either synthetic chemicals, such as DEET, or plant-derived chemicals such as Citronella. There are different recommendations for frequency of application depending on the repellent, so don’t over-apply.

Different Keys

The Florida Keys comprise the Upper Keys, Middle Keys and Lower Keys. Each area is unique and has much to offer. The Upper Keys islands are remnants of large coral reefs, which became fossilised and exposed as the sea level declined. The Lower and Middle Keys are made up of sandy accumulations of limestone grains produced by plants and marine organisms.

Tipping

Be aware that the waiters basically live off their tips, and tipping is more common in the US than in the UK. If the service is satisfactory, it is customary to show your appreciation with a 15% gratuity or tip, even if the meal did not meet your expectations. Check your bill first, as sometimes this has already been added.

Clothing

If you’re not sure about what outfit to wear, err on the side of casual. Factor in the warm weather and look for light fabrics with a loose fit. If your skin is sensitive to the sun, make sure you cover up well and take a hat. Obviously if you are going fishing you'll need to make sure you have the appropriate attire.

Supermarket

At mile marker 91.3 you’ll find a Winn Dixie store, open 7 days a week until 10pm. You’ll find service with a smile and all the essentials you need for picnics, home cooking and more - they even stock snorkelling equipment. This store is a handy 'Plan B' when it comes to eating on holiday.​​​​