With so much history and natural beauty packed into such a small area, it’s no wonder the Florida Keys are a prime destination for RVers.
The Keys are broken down into 5 distinct areas: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West.
In this article, we're going to focus on all of our favorite things to do in Islamorada, Florida.
Islamorada is made up of the islands; Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, and the offshore islands of Indian Key and Lignumvitae Key.
Islamorada is a main destination in our Florida Keys RV Adventure Guide, where we offer even more helpful information for RVers heading to Florida. The guide includes a complete 7-day itinerary with lists of the best RV campgrounds in the different locations, but more about that at the end of this post.
7 Best Things to Do & See in Islamorada, Florida Keys
You may remember that Destin, Fl is the world's luckiest fishing village, but Islamorada is known as “The Sport Fishing Capital of the World.”
1. Rain Barrel Village
As you drive through Plantation Key, you’ll see a curious sculpture of “Betsy” the giant lobster outside of the Rain Barrel Village, an artisan’s village full of local work.
The Rain Barrel is a great spot to pick up a few unique souvenirs. It is full of work from local artisans including tropical island-themed handmade jewelry, glass sculptures, pottery, paintings, and a lot more.
There is a tropical garden in the back as well as a coffee and snack shop for refreshments.
2. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
On Windley Key, step back in time and explore the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park located near Mile Marker 85.
This state park has the unique claim to fame as one of the few places you can see a coral reef above the surface of the water!
The quarry is formed mostly of Key Largo limestone (fossilized coral) and was used to build Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s. After the railroad was built, the quarry was used until the 1960s to produce exquisite pieces of decorative stone called Keystone.
You can walk within the eight-foot-high quarry walls to see fossils of the ancient coral reef formed nearly 125,000 years ago.
You’ll also learn about the quarry and its operation, old quarry machinery has been preserved at the park. There are 1.5 miles of self-guided trails that wind through a tropical hardwood hammock and ranger-led tours of the old quarries available seasonally Fri-Sun at 10 am and 2 pm.
The Alison Fahrer Environmental Education Center is open Thurs-Mon from 8 am-5 pm and features educational exhibits about the history of Flagler’s railroad, tropical hardwood hammocks, and the geology of the Florida Keys. Admission is $2.50/ person.
3. Theater of the Sea
Another “can’t miss” spot in Islamorada is the Theater of the Sea. Established in 1946, it is one of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world.
It has lush tropical gardens and lagoons that are home to dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, alligators, and birds. You can catch a dolphin, sea lion, or parrot show, relax on their private beach, or (for an extra fee) swim with the dolphins, sea lions, or stingrays.
Admission is $36/person and the museum is open year-round from 9:15am-5pm.
4. History of Diving Museum
This Saturday!! Go to our website for more details! pic.twitter.com/5mYSGQCorq
— History of Diving (@divingmuseum) August 23, 2017
The History of Diving Museum explores the history of man’s exploration of the ocean and how scuba diving came to be what it is today, including the special role Keys have played in that, through the world’s most extensive collection of artifacts, antiques, books, and photographs.
There are 14 exhibits exploring the world of diving bells and early diving helmets. There is even a “Parade of Nations” exhibit which contains 45 rare diving helmets from 24 countries.
The history of scuba diving technology really is incredible and you’d be amazed what people were using to explore the depths of the ocean a hundred and even two hundred years ago.
If you’ve ever taken up scuba diving this is a really unique and interesting place!
Admission is $15/person and the museum is open year-round from 10 am-5 pm.
5. Florida Keys History & Discovery Center
The Florida Keys History & Discovery Center delves into the history, people, and events that shaped the Florida Keys.
It covers the first Florida Keys inhabitants, pirates, shipwrecks and salvagers, Keys pioneering families, the 1733 Treasure Fleet, Indian Key, sportfishing legends, and Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad.
If you’re interested in the history of the Keys, this center is a fascinating look at how the Keys came to be what they are today.
There are also several aquarium exhibits that explore the Florida Reef, challenges faced by the fragile coral reef ecosystem, and the invasive Lionfish. The center is located on the property of the Islander Resort.
Admission is $15/person and the museum is open Wed-Sun from 10 am-5 pm.
6. Robbie's Restaurant & Marina
Across the channel, on Lower Matecumbe Key near Mile Marker 78, there’s a particularly interesting restaurant/marina called Robbie’s. Here, you can hand-feed a school of over 100 massive tarpon which come each day for a tasty bite of fish meal from tourists!
If you’re not familiar with tarpon, you’re in for a surprise. These fish are gigantic. They can reach sizes of up to 8’ long and weigh up to 250 lbs.
For a few dollars, you can reach over the side of the dock with a minnow in hand and wait for one to literally jump out of the water to eat it.
Don’t worry about your hand getting taken off – tarpon don’t have teeth. What you might feel is a bit like running some sandpaper along your skin.
So how did these fish come to claim Robbie’s as their mealtime hot spot?
As the story goes, in 1976 the marina’s namesake, Robbie, found a tarpon foundering in the shallows near the dock. The fish's jaw was torn so he called a friend to help stitch up the mouth.
He put the fish in a tank and hand-fed it until it could be released back into the bay. It swam away but afterward it would return looking for a meal and sometimes bring a friend. Soon word got around and more and more tarpon would appear for food.
Over time the school has grown, and now you’ll find up to 100 fish hanging by the docks at all times of the day and night. The spot also has an eclectic little open-air market after you’re done feeding the fishes.
If you have time while you’re here, Robbie’s makes a great launching off point (renting a kayak or tour boat) for two secluded island state parks, each about a mile offshore from Lower Matecumbe Key.
7. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is a relatively undisturbed island named for the endangered lignum vitae tree which translates to “wood of life.” The island supports several other endangered species of plants as well.
There’s a nature trail on the island that winds its way through the tropical hardwoods accessible only via a ranger-guided tour from December to April, Fri-Sun, at 10 am and 2 pm.
The State Park is open Thurs-Mon from 8 am-5 pm and can only be accessed by tour boat or kayak.
The drive through the Keys to Key West makes for a bonafide tropical road trip, with spectacular beaches, numerous natural attractions, wildlife sanctuaries, and plenty of fresh seafood from nearby roadside shacks.
Islamorada is just one of the amazing stops along the adventure!
In this guide, we provide a suggested route and itinerary, lists of things to do, lots of helpful links, and all the info for campgrounds along the way.