Flats Fishing
Flats Fishing

Flats fishing

This is called “skinny water” fishing and anglers take out small boats, one or two fishermen plus a captain, to hunt the gamefish of the Keys flats. They’re after permit, bonefish, tarpon and they use light tackle or fly rods. $350 half day/$550 full day

Offshore fishing

Go big, or go home. This is for the serious fisherman or the angler that wants a shot at a once-in-a-lifetime fish. The boats are usually 40-foot plus and come with an experienced captain that mans the vessel from the fly bridge, and a mate below that manages the gear. The charters can usually accommodate about six anglers. This time of year, anglers target dolphin. $800/$1,200

Reef fishing

Just a few miles offshore of the Keys, there’s deep water. That’s where captains take their clients to find snapper and grouper. This is probably the most popular type of fishing in the Keys as it usually will yield a few dinners. Anglers love mahi above all else, but grouper and yellowtail come a close second. Growing in popularity these days is the sweet meat of hogfish. $650/$1,000

We're on a boat!
We’re on a boat!

Partyboat fishing

Sometimes called “head” boats, these large vessels can accommodate about two dozen anglers at a time. The captains typically anchor at more than one location on the half-day trips (though sometimes there are night excursions) and anglers drop their line, hook and bait over the side. Mates are there to help with the gear and the gaff, but anglers are in charge of fileting their own fish. $50-$75

Rent a boat

For visitors that can’t bring their own vessel, that’s no reason to be landlocked. Small and medium-size boats are available by the day, half-day or weekly to experienced captains to go fishing, diving or just tour the islands for a gander at the exclusive, waterfront homes. And kids — young and old — love the opportunity for a wild tube ride behind the boat. Various prices

Jet Ski

Most Jet Ski concessions offers tours of the islands. A handful of customers get their own ride and follow a guide single-file to various spots for a narrated story of the Keys. (This reduces the wear and tear on fishermen’s nerves, plus protects the marine resources.) Modern Jet Ski’s are fast — expect to travel at speeds upwards of 40 mph. It’s common for tour guides to also make a stop at a secluded, safe area for high-speed hi-jinks. $125

Kayak rentals & tours

By far, this is the most economical way to get out on the water in the Florida Keys. For just a few dollars an hour, kayakers can uncover the hidden and quiet spots of the Keys, including mangrove tunnels (watch out for spiders!). A guide can take tourists to all the best spots plus educate them on all the species of marine life, big and small. Rentals starting at $30 for a half or full day


This is way easier than it looks, and it looks pretty easy. Paddleboard enthusiasts love the versatility of boards for exploring, exercise (yoga!), and just plain fun. The standing position affords users an ergonomic, full body workout and the heightened vantage (pun intended) means you get a better look at what’s in the water around them. Rentals start at $30 for a few hours

Aerial tours

Both the Key West and Marathon airports have pilots willing to take visitors up for a short ride. And if you think the Keys are beautiful from sea level, you should see them from a few hundred feet in the air. Pick a day with calm seas and you’ll be able to spot rays, sharks and turtles from the skies. Overseas Aero Tours flies a two-tourist-seat biplane in the skies over the Middle Keys. $55/per person


It’s what all the cool kids are doing — a combination of sailing and wakeboarding that takes a while to master. Definitely hire a teacher who will schlep all the gear, pick the right spot and judge the weather conditions, and share some pointers. The Keys have become a mecca for kiteboarders who like the wide-open spaces and shallow water areas. It’s always blowin’ on one side of the islands. Multi-hour lessons $300


Join a group of like-minded friends for a trip out to the coral reef or one of the Keys many “artificial” reefs — intentionally or unintentionally sunk boats. Don’t dive? Tag along with snorkel gear and hover above for a bird’s eye (fish’s eye?) view of the action. Divers can take their own equipment or rent from local shops (air available, too). Most dive shops run two trips a day and each trip is typically a two-tank dive. Snorkle-only boats typically stay in one place. Trip with tank and weights $60 or snorkel for $30

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