Islamorada has something for everyone — from seafood to animal interactions

Posted September 24, 2015


ISLAMORADA, Fla. – Its beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and endless fun in the sun is why millions of tourists descend upon Islamorada every year.

Islamorada Visitors Welcome Sign (Photo by Stephanie Freire)

Islamorada visitors welcome sign (Photo by Stephanie Freire).

Located approximately 1.5 hours driving time south of Miami and approximately two hours driving time northeast of Key West, the village was given the name “Purple Isle,” after the purple hued sunsets seen each afternoon by locals and visitors.

Islamorada is the perfect spot for a quiet weekend getaway or a week-long fun in the sun family vacation.

Whether you’re looking for great seafood, chartering a fishing boat and captain, swimming with sea animals, kayaking through the mangroves or just relaxing by the ocean with a drink in your hand, Islamorada has something for everyone. Lining U.S. 1, what locals also call the Overseas Highway, are mom and pop restaurants, ocean front homes, world renown fishing stores, boat marinas, five star hotels and, of course, beautiful beaches.

“Ever since the first time I visited the Florida Keys, I always knew I’d be back,” said Rose Osborn.

Osborn and her husband, Pete, moved to Islamorada from New Jersey nine years ago to retire in paradise. “There’s nothing like waking up every morning to the smell of the salty air and feeling the warm sunshine on your skin all year round.”

One of the Osborn’s favorite places to grab great seafood is at Islamorada Fish Company. Islamorada Fish Company started as a family owned and operated wholesale seafood business in 1948 to locals and restaurants. The story goes that in 1993 someone brought a deep fryer so the fisherman could fry their fresh caught fish after a long day’s work. Two picnic tables and a screened in porch were put in next and the rest is history.

The oceanfront restaurant is famous for its great atmosphere, smoked fish spread, conch salad and some of the freshest fish you can find in the village. It’s also known for the traditional 6 p.m. shark and tarpon feeding, where employees throw scraps to hammer head sharks, nurse sharks and tarpon fish right off the docks. How’s that for dinner and a show!

Want to catch some fish in the Sport Fishing Capital of the World? Captain Easy Charters in Islamorada has you covered.

“Captain (Bruce) Anderson and his crew are the best at what they do,” said Jose Salavarria, an avid sports fisherman from Miami. “The first time I ever worked with them was for a dolphin (mahi-mahi) tournament and we won first place with a 150-pound fish. After that, I’ve gone back twice to them to fish with my buddies for tuna and wahoo.”

Captain Easy Charters offers half day, three-fourths day and full day deep-sea sport fishing trips and even 10-to-12-hour swordfish trips. Just imagine the look on your face in the photos when you reel in the giant! Anyone is welcome on the 35-foot custom designed express sport fisherman boat from the most experienced fisherman to first timer’s as well as children and families.

If you’re looking for a close up sea animal experience unlike any other, clear a day in your calendar for Theater of the Sea. This is a 17-acre property of waterfalls, tropical gardens and a three acre natural ocean lagoon. Theater of the Sea is home to a variety of animals, including Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, rays, reptiles and birds.

“Theatre of the Sea is the second oldest marine park in the world,” said Maureen LaMarra, head of Human Recourses at the park. “I feel like it is the only park that allows every visitor to have a up close and intimate experience with the animals.”

LaMarra further explained how every animal lives in an absolute natural environment including the sea animals, which all live in the natural lagoon rather than in concrete tanks.

“Our newest sting ray and nurse shark interactive programs have been very successful,” said LaMarra. “Visitors can get in the water with these animals, learn how to handle them and can swim around the lagoon with them.”

LaMarra believes that these new and innovative programs along with the natural environments for the animals are what sets apart Theater of the Sea from any other marine park.

Theater of the Sea hosts 100,000 visitors per year and 20,000 participate in animal encounters.

There truly is something in Islamorada for everyone. Whether it’s for a weekend or for a two-week family reunion, there is always something to explore. It’s delicious restaurants, unique attractions, beautiful beaches, great hospitality and small town feel is what keeps visitors coming back, and possibly staying even longer than expected.

If You Go

From Miami International Airport:

Get on Florida-836 west in Miami from Miad Circle, NW 21st Street and NW 12th Street
Take Ronald Reagan Turnpike to Florida City and to U.S. 1 south in Islamorada

Key West International Airport:

Head northwest on Faraldo Circle toward Faraldo Circle
Turn left to stay on Faraldo Circle
Turn left onto South Roosevelt Boulevard
Turn right onto U.S. 1 North


Drop Anchor Resort & Marina
Phone: 305-664-4863
84959 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Islander, A Guy Harvey Outpost Resort
Pet Friendly
Phone: 305-664-0082
81450 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

The Moorings Village & Spa
Phone: 305-664-4708
123 Beach Road
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Cheeca Lodge & Spa
Phone: 305-664-4651
81801 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036


Islamorada Fish Company
Phone: 305-664-9271
81532 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Ziggie & Mad Dog’s
Phone: 305-664-3391
Mile Marker 83.5, Bayside
Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Lazy Days Restaurant
Phone: 305-664-5356
79867 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Marker 88
Phone: 305-852-9315
87900 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036


Captain Easy Charters
Phone: 305-360-2120
84001 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Theater of the Sea
Phone: 305-664-2431
84721 Overseas Hwy.
Islamorada, Fla. 33036

Florida Keys Dive Center
Phone: 305-852-4599
Mile Marker 90.5
Islamorada, Fla. 33037

Other Side Board Sports
Phone: 305-853-9728
83292 Overseas Hwy., #6 (near Whale Harbor)
Islamorada, Fla. 33036