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9 Best Things to Do in Islamorada

by Valerie Vanr

Islamorada, 6 tiny islands in the middle of the Florida Keys, offers visitors intimate adventures with marine life.  Feeding hungry tarpon fish, swimming with dolphins or snorkeling with sharks are all options in Islamorada.  There’s lots of quiet adventures too.

We provide all the best things to do in Islamorada.

1-Day Itinerary in Islamorada

This plan hits the highlights of Islamorada in 1 day. With additional days, cover all of the things to do in Islamorada below.

9 Best Things To Do in Islamorada

Note: MM is Mile Marker and refers to the distance from Key West.

  1. Rain Barrel Village (MM 86.7)
  2. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park (MM 85.3)
  3. Theater of the Sea  (MM 84.2)
  4. History of Diving Museum  (MM 83)
  5. Keys History & Discovery Center  (MM 82.1)
  6. Hurricane Monument  (MM 81.5)
  7. Robbie’s of Islamorada  (MM 77.5)
  8. Anne’s Beach  (MM 73.4)
  9. Long Key State Park  (MM 67.5)

Map of Islamorada Attractions

Islamorada Florida Keys map with stars marking attractions
Click on the image for an interactive map of the entire Florida Keys.

Rain Barrel Village

Meet Betsy, a 30-foot, fiberglass, lobster sculpture, who welcomes visitors to the Rain Barrel Village.  Be sure to grab a photo with Betsy.  This is the second-most photographed spot in the Florida Keys (after the buoy at Key West’s Southernmost Point).

Huge fiberglass lobster sculpture in front of Rain Barrel Village Islamorada
Watch for Betsy in front of the Rain Barrel Village. She is a 30-foot-tall, 40-foot-long sculpture of a Florida Keys Spiny Lobster.
Trees shade walkway between shops displaying clothing Rain Barrel Village
The Rain Barrell Village is a collection of shops and food vendors. Many of the vendors are local artisan selling their unique creations.

The artisan village is a collection of unique shops selling arts and crafts in a wide range of styles from local artists.  Wander the colorful and charming stores of the village.  Purchase a one-of-a-kind piece for yourself or a gift then grab a bite to eat at one of the food vendors.

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

This unusual state park is a former limestone quarry.  Henry Flagler took rock and fill from this quarry to build his Overseas Railroad.  The quarry continued to be used after the railroad was built through the 1960s.  It produced pieces of decorative stone called keystone.

The limestone is fossilized coral from a reef that grew in a shallow sea 125,000 years ago.  See the impressive fossils by walking along the 8-foot quarry walls.  The rock formation is known as Key Largo Limestone.

Andy examining fan coral fossil quarry wall Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
The quarry walls at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park show huge, beautiful fossilized fan corals.

There are 5 short, self-guided, nature trails through the hardwood hammock.  Learn about the flora and fauna of the hammock and the quarry machinery on display.  During the winter season, guided tours are available for a small fee.

Learn more about Flagler’s railroad, the geology of the Florida Keys and the local ecosystem at the Visitor Center.

For more information, see the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park website.

Theater of the Sea

Watch dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows.  There is a fish and reptile tour showcasing sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, alligators, and crocodiles.  Enjoy the bottomless boat ride or relax at the lagoon-side beach.  This is the perfect family destination.  It’s easy to spend an afternoon at this beautiful park.

Experience the thrill of seeing dolphins or sea lions up close, by wading or swimming with these amazing creatures.  Snorkeling with sharks or stingrays is another “up close” experience on offer at Theater of the Sea.

Val foreground Theatre of The Sea sign and pool behind her - Islamorada
See the marine animal shows at Theater of the Sea. It is a sanctuary for many aquatic residents, including four different species of sea turtles.

This extensive marine park has 3 acres of salt-water lagoons refreshed daily with ocean water.  Since 1946, the P.F. McKenney family has been providing a loving home to their animals and assisting in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured marine animals.  Many of them become permanent residents at the park if return to the ocean is not possible.  It is one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world.

Theatre of the Sea is dedicated to marine conservation.  Their shows and programs are educating visitors and encouraging them to be stewards of the ocean’s ecosystems.

For more information, visit the Theater of the Sea website.

History of Diving Museum

Learn about the development of diving technology to explore our fascinating undersea world from ancient times to the present.  The bulk of the museum’s collection was gathered from over 30 countries over 40 years and represents around 4000 years of underwater history.  See exhibits about Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, equipment showing the evolution of diving and more. 

The museum has lectures and special events all through the year.  For more information, check the History of Diving Museum website.

Pink flowers under Islamorada's History of Diving Museum sign with ancient diving helmet
Many of the artifacts in the museum were lovingly collected from all over the world by Doctors Joe and Sally Bauer. The Bauers used their collection to start the History of Diving Museum in 2005.
History of Diving Museum Painting diver dressed in ancient diving equipment fighting multi-legged sea creature
The museum includes paintings of undersea creatures and the diving costumes from diving’s early days.

Keys History & Discovery Center

Learn about the people and events that shaped history in the Florida Keys through interactive exhibits.  The Discovery Center has both permanent and rotating exhibits delving into everything from First Peoples to the importance of the sport fishing industry today. Three aquariums present the local coral reef ecosystem and help explain the challenges it faces today.

Andy outside front entrance Keys History & Discovery Center Islamorada
The Discovery Center has a number of interactive exhibits about the history of the Keys. It’s a great place to get out of the heat and learn interesting things about the Florida Keys.

The theatre shows Florida Keys-themed documentaries, several times a day.  For more information, see the Keys History & Discovery Center website.

Note: The Center is somewhat difficult to find as it is located on the grounds of the Islander Resort.  After passing the resort’s security kiosk, keep to the left and then straight ahead to the Discovery Center.

Hurricane Monument

Make a short stop at the impressive Hurricane Monument.  This landmark is a memorial to the lives lost during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.  For 50 years it was the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever and remains the most powerful to hit the United States.

Plaque on rock foreground US flag midground stone monument background trees around Hurricane Monument
Palm trees with fronds bent in the wind and waves are carved into the front of the Hurricane Monument, a memorial to those who died in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

It killed more than 400 people, many of whom were World War I veterans working on the US#1 highway project.   The storm damaged the Overseas Railway beyond repair. 

The monument is made of local Key Largo Limestone and stands 18 feet tall.  A beautiful, tile-mosaic map of the Florida Keys covers the crypt containing the cremated remains of over 300 of the hurricane’s victims.

Robbie’s of Islamorada

Robbie’s is a popular, must-see attraction in Islamorada.  The tarpon’s feeding frenzy is one of the most unique sights I’ve ever seen.

There are a number of things to explore at Robbie’s.  A great place to start is the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant and Bar.  Enjoy one of their great seafood sandwiches and a local beer. Seated at the edge of the waterfront deck, we had a great view of the tarpon feeding area.

Andy on dock with hand in air above leaping tarpon which grabbed fish from hand - Robbie's of Islamorada.
Andy was surprised by the leaping ability of the tarpon at the Robbie’s dock.

After eating, get involved in the action at the dock.  Buy a bucket of fish and have some fun hand-feeding the tarpon that swarm around.  Watch your fingers!  These fish can jump quite high and have a good set of teeth.  A tarpon can grow to more than 7 feet long and weigh in excess of 200 pounds.  Oh and don’t forget the pesky pelicans!  They try to steal fish right out of hands and buckets.

At the marina, rental kayaks and paddleboards are available or join one of the chartered tours.  There’s also a small beachfront.  On the land side of Robbie’s, check out the shops, where local vendors sell their art and handmade crafts.

There’s a lot to see and do.  For more information, see the Robbie’s of Islamorada website.

Anne’s Beach

This beach is the best place to escape if a quiet, serene, natural sand beach beacons.

Follow the boardwalk, about a quarter mile long, that winds through the mangroves between two parking lots at the southern end of Upper Matecumbe Key.  At intervals along it, there are picnic shelters with beach access points.   Grab a shelter for the afternoon and enjoy the calm, shallow waters and sandy beach below.

Anne's Beach Islamorada covered picnic shelter with steps down to beach
The boardwalk is just barely visible on the left side of the picture and runs between two parking lots. The picnic shelters act as beach access points from the boardwalk.

Long Key State Park

Enjoy the natural Florida Keys ecosystem at Long Key State Park.  This coastal park has beautiful sandy beaches and two scenic nature trails.

On the water, go swimming, fishing, snorkeling and kayaking.  The park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail so bird watchers have excellent chances to see many different species.

Hurricane Ian in 2022 closed the campground but hike-in, tent-only campsites are available.  For more information and updates, see the Long Key State Park website.

The area occupied by the state park was once the luxurious Long Key Fishing Camp, a Henry Flagler-owned resort along his railroad to Key West.  Celebrities, including US presidents and world-renowned saltwater anglers of the day, enjoyed the resort.  It was destroyed in the Labour Day Hurricane of 1935 and never reopened.  The state park opened in 1969.

Islamorada Accommodations

Looking for accommodations in Islamorada?

Make Islamorada your base while exploring the Middle Keys. Check out these great options:

Here are other great hotels in Islamorada.

Avrex Travel Video – Best Things To Do in Islamorada

Florida Keys Road Trip

Islamorada is one of the great destinations in the Florida Keys.  Be sure to check out our article, Florida Keys Road Trip, for even more places to visit.

Ribbon of highway surrounded by water and small urban areas

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