How to Select a Florida Keys Hotel and More

Best Hotels in The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys, Fla-Keys, are a string of islands off the southern coast of Florida, stretching from the mainland out into the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida Keys are divided into two distinct sections – the Upper Keys and the Lower Keys – separated by an area known as the Seven Mile Bridge. With its crystal-clear blue waters, barrier reef system, stunning sunsets, and excellent deep-sea fishing, it’s no wonder that The Florida Keys are one of the most popular vacation spots in the US. But picking the right hotel can be tricky as well as finding local activities that are unique to the local Florida Keys culture.  This blog post will explore what you should consider when choosing a hotel in The Florida Keys as well as provide you with Florida Keys travel secrets and local Florida Keys vacation activities recommendations. Within this blog you will find our Florida Keys resort selection map. This map is packed with things to do in Key Largo, Islamorada, Tavernier and Marathon.  Check back often as we will be adding more FL-Keys local knowledge.  

Why You Should Plan a Vacation in the Florida Keys?

Florida-Florida Keys has a unique feature that stands out among all other states in the US – its coral reef system! This system is one-of-a-kind, stretching over 350 miles from the Dry Tortugas to the St Lucie Inlet and housing more than 40 species of reef-building corals that provide shelter, food, and breeding sites for millions of plants and animals living within it. This coral reef system is an essential part of the ecosystem and benefits both local communities and visitors alike.

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a 2,800-square-mile oasis of biodiversity located in the southeastern United States.  The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is an incredible destination full of beauty, adventure, and education opportunities for everyone from nature enthusiasts to casual travelers who want a unique experience away from landlocked life.

The uniqueness of Florida’s coral reef system makes it a key component in understanding how our ecosystems are interconnected around America’s coasts – providing essential habitat for fish, sea turtles, manatees, sponges, sea stars and other marine life as well as offering recreational activities such as snorkeling or diving with Conch Republic Divers or just appreciating its beauty from land or rent from the best boat rental company in Florida Keys, Anchors Away Boat rentals located in Tavernier, Florida. If you are looking to go fishing without a fishing guide, we offer beginner reef fishing courses for those that want to adventure out on their own for day with a rental boat or if you are trailing your own boat down. Check out our courses by clicking here. We highly recommend visiting the Turtle Hospital during your visit, especially if you have younger kids.

Whether you’re looking for an exciting outdoor adventure or just some time away from your everyday routine-the sanctuary has something special waiting beyond your fingertips! So what are you waiting for? Dive into this blog and let us help you find hotel as well as give you few local Florida Keys travel secrets that will make your Florida Key vacation very special.

Our Top Tips to Consider for Hotels in Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada—aka The Upper Keys

When choosing a hotel or other type of accommodation in the Fl-Keys, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost is location—you will want to decide whether to stay at a hotel with a private beach or closer to the attractions, restaurants, or Key Largo fishing charters you plan on visiting during your stay.

The trick about the Keys is that many tourists need to be made aware that we don’t have beaches, as you would assume, instead they have private beaches which are manmade. Visiting The Florida Keys is a unique experience vs. the rest of Florida’s coastline or other warm-weather destinations. Some hotels and resorts have very nice artificial beaches, but if you want to take a beach stroll and listen to the crashing waves, that does not exist. Be sure to consider amenities such as swimming pools, private beach, fitness centers, and restaurants; type of accommodation such as large hotels or resorts versus Airbnbs or vacation rentals; available activities such as fishing, snorkeling, shopping, and dining out; and cost considerations, including price range and budget. 

 East vs. the West Side of the Florida Keys Island Chain

The West Side of The Keys 

The Keys’ west side is home to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll experience some of the most stunning sunsets over the water here. Regarding food, there are plenty of seafood restaurants, bars, and cafes serving up all sorts of delicious dishes.  The best place view sunset and grab some local style food and listen to great live music is Loelei Cabana Bar

Florida Keys Sunsets

Florida Bay Sunset

For an awesome view of the bay with authentic Florida Keys local flavor then visit Dunns Ocean View(The O.V. as the locals call it) Islamorada. This is a “Keys Causal” sports bar.

The East Side of The Keys 

On the east side of the keys, you can admire views of the Atlantic Ocean and explore some incredible coral reefs. Nature enthusiasts will love all this area offers—from mangrove forests and wetlands full of wildlife to paddling through crystal clear waters on a kayak tour. In addition, there are plenty of activities perfect for days spent along the shoreline, such as swimming, snorkeling, fishing, or simply relaxing on one of many private beaches. 

And on the east side of The Keys is the Atlantic Ocean; however, there is a coral reef, so beaches, as most people know them, do not exist unless they are man-made. 

Researching the Hotels Florida Keys Mile Marker Location 

Once you have narrowed your options, it’s time to research the hotel’s mile marker location. Each of the islands in the Florida Keys is assigned a mile marker, with mile marker 0 located at Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States. The mile markers go up to mile marker 126 at Key Largo, the largest island in the Upper Keys. These green signs are placed regularly along highway US 1, indicating the distance from Key West – a great way to track how far you’ve come and how far you have left to go! These green signs feature white numerals indicating the exact number of miles from Key West – starting from MM 0 just south of White Street Pier near Old Town until reaching MM 126 just south of Key Largo near Jewfish Creek! Additionally, these signs feature reflective tape around each number to ensure visibility even after dark or during bad weather conditions when visibility levels are low. Ultimately, these mile marker signs make navigation much easier for drivers traveling through such an extensive stretch of roadway! 

The Overseas Highway in the Keys has several mile markers:

  • Key Largo MM 106
  • Tavernier MM 94
  • Plantation Key MM 90.7 
  • Islamorada MM 85.3
  • The Middle Keys MM 70
  • Marathon MM 53.5
  • Seven Mile Bridge MM 47
  • The Lower Keys MM 40  
  • Big Pine Key MM 33.5
  • Big Coppit Key is at MM 11
  • Stock Island is at MM 5
  •  Key West before the 4th MM

Why is it important to be familiar with the Florida Keys mile markers? Knowing the island mile marker can be necessary for several reasons. For one, it can help you to understand how far you are from Key West (or Key Largo) when traveling between islands. Additionally, many businesses and attractions in the Keys will list their mile marker number as part of their address, so it can be helpful to know what hotel mile marker your resort is at before booking. 

Use our Good Karma Sportfishing Upper Florida Keys resort selection map below. Check back often for updates. 

Another essential thing to consider is only one road through The Florida Keys- US1, aka Overseas Highway. And US1 goes from four lanes down to two streets in Tavernier at Coral Shores High School MM89.9. Florida Keys traffic can often be challenging, and you may be stuck for a while if there is an accident. Another thing to consider when selecting a hotel conjunction with how you wish to spend your vacation.

Finally, in an emergency, being able to tell first responders your exact location via mile marker can mean the difference between life and death. So whether you’re traveling to the Florida Keys for business or pleasure, make sure you familiarize yourself with the mile markers of the hotels and understand what mile markers the hotels are in conjunction with your activities.

Selecting the Hotel Location Based on Your Florida Keys Vacation Itinerary 

When people ask me, “Where should we stay while we are on vacation in The Florida Keys?” The best advice for choosing a hotel in The Florida Keys is to consider what you want from your stay.

I have a standard list of things for them to consider; let me share it with you:

  • Do you want to be on the water? Florida Keys Oceanside or Bayside?
  • Do you want a swimming pool?
  • Do you want to stay at a large hotel or resort, a mid-size, smaller boutique hotel, or find an Airbnb?
  • Do you want a restaurant(s) at the property or within walking distance?
  • Do you plan to go deep-sea fishing with Good Karma Sportfishing? backcountry fishing? If so, what fishing charter and where are they located?
  • Do you plan to go diving or snorkeling? If so, what fishing charter and where are they located?
  • What other activities would you like to do? Rent a bike? Shopping? Theater of the Sea? Check out Melinda Van Fleet’s Theater of the Sea Blog-Updates on our Favorite Florida Destination. Visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park?
  • And finally, yes, the cost. In what price range are you looking to book your Florida Keys hotel? 

Are you with me? I know that’s a lot to consider. But now, let’s give you a list of our favorites, and hopefully, with all of this in mind (along with some Trip Advisor Reviews), you can make a sound decision.

Good Karma Sportfishing Florida Key Hotel Recommendations 

I hear so many good things from the clients about Pines and Palms located in Islamorada, Florida.   I have several regular clients that stay at Pines and Palms each year and they have nothing but great things to say about  this resort. Pines and Palms has the best webcam, you have to check it out by clicking here.  Check out Alligator Lighthouse from the Pines and Palms webcam.

Below are a few resorts and hotels our friends, family and clients have stay at over the years.

Make sure to check out our Key Largo hotels, lodges and resort guide page on our website. Included in the guide is a price range for each Key Largo, Islamorada and Tavernier hotel and its Trip Advisor Rating. I made this Key Largo hotel guide for you, so you can find the best Key Largo Hotel or resort. Click here.

The Best Key Largo Boat Ramps

There are not many places public boat ramps in the Florida Keys. Below is the list of public ramps we recommend. If you plan on launching from the weekend you will need to be at the gate a couple hours before it opens especially on busy holiday weekends or during high tourism season.

Coconut Palm Inn is a hidden gem located in Tavernier. If you are trailering your own boat, then I highly recommend this resort as it has boat ramp. If you are looking fish from your own boat and want to learn how to do to catch fish without booking fishing guide then I highly recommend you check out my Florida Keys fishing courses by clicking here.

Florida Keys Treasures-Secret Resort Passes 

Here are a few places to purchase resort passes in the Upper Florida Keys. These resorts listed below are fantastic, so no worries. We have purchased day passes at these resorts over the years, so we highly recommend you do the same while visiting the Fl-Keys.

Islander Resort-Ocean Side

Playa Largo Resort-Bayside

Jimmy Johnsons Big Chill

Land Based Snorkeling 

The best place for land based snorkeling is Bahia Honda State Park in Marathon, Florida and John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, Florida.


Choosing the perfect hotel for your vacation in The Florida Keys is an important decision that requires careful consideration and research. By considering factors such as location, amenities offered, type of accommodation desired (hotel vs. Airbnb), nearby activities, and cost/budget restrictions before booking a room or suite at any given property, you can ensure that you enjoy your visit to its fullest potential. Additionally, taking advantage of online resources like TripAdvisor reviews and ratings, along with professional travel agents, can help you find great deals on accommodations while staying within your budget. With all these tips under your belt, you’re sure to find just the right place for an unforgettable getaway!

The Florida Keys are an incredibly diverse destination offering something for everyone! From exploring its natural beauty on land or sea to admiring breathtaking sunsets over its waters—there’s so much here waiting for you to discover and experience! Whether you’re looking for a unique adventure or want a chance to relax and take in everything this slice of paradise offers, the Florida Keys will give you just that! Check back often as I will be adding more local secrets to this comprehensive Florida Keys Hotel Guide. We hope this guide has helped provide insight into what awaits you during your trip here! All that’s left now is planning your journey! Enjoy your stay!