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The Keys

keys snorkeling
The Florida Keys are one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the world. From the stunning natural views and turquoise waters, to the abundant wildlife and activities such as, snorkeling, diving, sailing, bird watching and world-class fishing, just to name a few.

Each key in the island chain has its own charm, personality and history which is why people find it hard to leave. Once you’ve been here, it’s easy to see why so many who visit dream of moving to the keys on a full-time , vacation or retirement home basis.

The Florida Keys are an archipelago, a string of about 1700 islands in the southeast United States.  They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry Tortugas.

The islands lie along the Florida Straits, dividing the Atlantic Ocean to the east from the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and defining one edge of Florida Bay.  At the nearest point, the southern tip of Key West is just 90 miles (145 Km) from Cuba.  The Keys are in the subtropics between 24 and 25 degrees north latitude.  The climate and environment are closer to that of the Caribbean than the rest of Florida, though unlike the Caribbean’s volcanic islands, the Keys were built by plants and animals.

The Upper Keys islands are remnants of large coral reefs, which became fossilized and exposed as sea level declined where as the Lower Keys are composed of sandy-type accumulations of limestone grains produced by plants and marine organisms. The natural habitats of the Keys are upland forests, inland wetlands and shoreline zones.  Soil ranges from sand to marl to rich, decomposed leaf litter.  In some places, “caprock” (the eroded surface of coral formations) covers the ground.  Rain falling through leaf debris becomes acidic and dissolves holes in the limestone, where soil accumulates and tree roots find purchase.

FL Keys TarponThe climate is subtropical and the Keys are the only frost-free place in Florida.  There are two main “seasons”: hot, wet, and humid from about June through October, and somewhat drier and cooler weather from November through May.  Many plants grow slowly or go dormant in the dry season.  Some native trees are deciduous, and drop their leaves in the winter or with spring winds.

The Keys have distinctive plant and animals species, some found nowhere else in America, as the Keys define the northern extent of their ranges.  The climate also allows many imported plants to thrive.  Nearly any houseplant known to commerce, and most landscape plants of the South, can thrive in the Keys climate.  Some exotic species which arrived as landscape plants now invade and threaten natural areas and some plants that seem to define the Keys are not native, including coconut palm, bougainvillea, hibiscus, and papaya.

The Keys are also home to unique animal species, including the Key deer, protected by the National Key Deer refuge, and the American crocodile.  About 70 miles (110 km) west of Key West is Dry Tortugas National Park, one of the most isolated and therefore well-preserved in the world.  The name derives from the fact that the small hump-shaped islands look like dry tortoise (tortuga in Spanish) shells from a distance.

Byron Terrell Realtor®

Byron Terrell
Coldwell Banker
Schmitt RE Co

11050 Overseas Highway
Marathon, Fl 33050
Direct: (305) 289-6512
Email  or Contact Form
License # 3327188
Office License # 146174


Florida Association Of Realtors Marathon Lower Keys Association Of Realtors
Member Marathon Florida Chamber Of Commerce


CB Schmitt RE

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