Random Facts about the Florida Keys

Just south of the Florida mainland lies the Florida Keys, a necklace of islands surrounded by emerald-green harbors, turquoise seas, nodding palms and olive-green mangroves. Since first settled in the early 1800s, the islands have been seasoned by the rich American and Cuban culture, sweetened by the unabashed romantic appeal of their natural beauty, and energized by their community. The islands’ year-round balmy, subtropical climate and unique “anything goes” flavor have made the Florida Keys an ideal visitor destination.


You may know the Florida Keys as a lush tropical paradise, but did you know these five facts about the area?

  1. In the Atlantic Ocean waters off the Florida Keys lies the continental United States’ only contiguous living coral barrier reef – the third largest coral barrier reef in the world. Additionally the coastal waters surrounding the entire island chain, including shallow water flats, mangrove islets and coral reefs, have been designated the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses approximately 2,900 square miles. The sanctuary includes John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, America’s first underwater preserve and predecessor to the sanctuary.
  1. The Florida Keys & Key West have been home to a number of literary greats including; Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, Tennessee Williams, Judy Blume and Robert Frost. Hemingway’s legacy still lives on in Key West today and each year, a celebration dedicated to Hemingway is held around his July 21 birthday. Events include a “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a whimsical Running of the Bulls, a short story competition and a fishing tournament.
Photo by: Andy Newman - Florida Keys News Bureau
Photo by: Andy Newman – Florida Keys News Bureau
  1. Every year the Lower Keys stage what is likely the world’s only Underwater Music Festival. The quirky annual concert draws divers, snorkelers, curious fish and even characters costumed as mermaids and other mythical denizens of the deep. It’s held at Looe Key Reef, acclaimed as a world-class dive site, and spotlights the need for reef protection.
Photo by: Bob Care - Florida Keys News Bureau
Photo by: Bob Care – Florida Keys News Bureau
  1. Key West is closer to Cuba than the Florida mainland. Key West lies at the southernmost tip of the 125-mile-long chain of islands that are the Florida Keys but is only 90 miles from Havana, Cuba. The string of islands are connected by the Florida Keys Overseas Highway’s 42 bridges over water—one almost seven miles long.
  1. Completed in 1982, the modern Seven Mile Bridge is one of the longest segmental bridges in the world. The Old Seven Mile Bridge that parallels the modern span was the jewel of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad that was completed in 1912, and was a technological marvel that took four years to construct. The old railroad bridges and road became the Florida Keys Overseas Highway in 1937. Despite popular belief, the original Seven Mile Bridge was unharmed in the filming of the Arnold Schwarzenegger​ blockbuster “True Lies.” Filmmakers used pyrotechnics on a model of the historic span. And each year in April, the modern bridge is closed to traffic for about two hours as 1,500 runners compete in the Seven Mile Bridge Run, a footrace over the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
Seven Mile Bridge
Photo by: Andy Newman – Florida Keys News Bureau

If you know of some other interesting facts about the Florida Keys, please leave a comment below. Click the following link to read about other Random Factoid Friday destinations.


Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.


  1. Ref. # 4 “Key West is closer to Cuba than the Florida mainland.” This statement should be “Key West is closer to Cuba than Miami.” Since the Key West to Cuba distance is over water, the distance to the Florida mainland would have to be measured the same way and there are several mainland locations in SW Florida that are closer than Cuba such as Flamingo and the area around Marco Island.

  2. Did you know that you used. Be able to get on a train in NY and get off in Cuba. The train schedule is still on displaying KeyWest. The train were loaded onto babes in KW and then then off in Havana.

  3. Natives of Key West are often referred to as “Conchs”. The reason being is that, back in the old days, when a child was born, the family would place a conch shell on the porch railing or somewhere easily seen from the street to announce the birth. Pink opening towards the street for a girl and backside of the shell for a boy. Passersby would say “look another conch was born”. This story was passed down by my great grandmother.
    Thanks for the post,

    Jesse B. (5th generation Conch)

  4. Love Key West! I cannot get there often enough! Headed back in January and it ant come too soon! I know I will live there or very near there someday! My home state is Maine and I am sick of cold weather 3/4ths of the year!

    1. Hey Lori…thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. Maine is pretty wonderful, but I can understand what you mean. 🙂 All the best!

  5. People come from all over world for the unique sulphur-salt combination in the air of the middle keys, some even take the air home in bottles, believing it to have medicinal benefits.

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