City Profile: Islamorada

By: VISIT FLORIDA staff

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Fishing, fishing and more fishing on Islamorada.

Hundreds of years ago, Spanish explorers sailed by Islamorada, saw the purple hue of its coastline (from the lavender shells of sea snails) and gave it its name. Islamorada means "purple isles" in Spanish.

It's not likely that you'll see any purple snails, but there's plenty of local color to take in. Located southwest of Key Largo on Upper Matecumbe Key, Islamorada (pronounced EYE-la-mor-AH-da) is the self-proclaimed "Sportfishing Capital of the World." People who visit here take their fishing seriously, and Islamorada fulfills its promise of excellent angling with the largest concentration of charter fishing boats in the entire island chain. Even former president George Bush can't resist the call of these blue-green waters. Searching for the elusive bonefish in Islamorada is one of his favorite sports.

There are many ways to catch a "big 'un." If you'd like, Islamorada's charter boat captains can take you on the fishing trip of your life, and many anglers are renting spots on "party boats" for a more affordable, but still productive, fishing trip. But venturing out on your own in a rented boat, wading in the shallows or bridge fishing are also great ways to explore area waters.

Islamorada fishing photo The Keys' famed coral reef, which extends miles into the ocean, is both the feeding and breeding grounds for hundreds of varieties of fish -- many of them good eatin'.

One of the largest towns in the Keys, Islamorada offers a number of attractions in addition to fabulous fishing. You can explore the wreckage of the Dutch-built ship San Pedro (located in 18 feet of water about 1.25 nautical miles south of Indian Key) or the Underwater Coral Gardens of both Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys. Indian Key, offshore on the Atlantic side of Lower Matecumbe Key is a designated State Historic Site. Its history is fraught with tales of wrecking, salvaging, unsavory deeds and Indian attacks. South of Lower Matecumbe Key, Long Key State Park has 60 full-facility campsites overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

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