The Florida Keys
Key Largo * Tavernier * Islamorada
Key Colony * Marathon * Big Pine
Key West * Tortugas
Manatee Bay is located in Key Colony Beach which is a small municipality and island located just outside Marathon in the heart of the Middle Keys.
The Florida Keys are a sting of 43 main islands stretching about 120 miles southwest of the southern tip of mainland Florida.
Driving in from the mainland, after crossing the glades the first island you come to is Key Largo. Key Largo is the largest island in the keys and feels the most like the mainland in regards to familiar restaurants, grocery stores, etcetera.
Another 20 minutes down the highway finds you in the town of Islmarada and the end of Upper Keys. Islmarada is activity hub of the islands (outside of Key West) and is home to several excellent restaurants as well as fishing and snorkel/dive charters.
As you continue south and leave Islmarada, the next large island you come to is Grassy Key...home of the Dolphin research center and the Marathon area of the Middle Keys. Another ten minutes down the highway and you should see the turn off for Key Colony...YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!
The best way to describe Key Colony, Marathon, and the rest of the Middle Keys is 'laid back'. You will find many great restaurants, shops, and services, but don't be in a hurry and don't expect anyone else to be either. Just take your time and enjoy the uniqueness of the area.
If you plan to venture further south past Big Pine Key, then Key West should be your destination. Key West is about an hour drive south of Key Colony, but well worth the trip Here you can park your car and set up shop on the large beautiful public beaches, bar-hop and shop your way down Duvall, rent bicycles and explore the island, or all of the above! While this is the end of the road, its not the end of the Keys. Hitch a fifty minute ride on the ferry (they leave regularly) to get to the Dry Tortugas 70 miles west of Key West! You'll find no bars or restaurants here, in fact overnight visitors have to camp. But what you will find is a completely submerged National Park! Bring or rent snorkel/dive hear, back a sack lunch, and explore the 100 square miles of reefs and shallows.