Years ago the Florida Keys put themselves on the map by selling relaxation, fun in the sun and world class fishing expeditions — and they still do — but visit us today and you’ll find that these are not your Grandma’s Keys!
Don’t get us wrong, there are still plenty of beachside bars and margaritas to be sipped and more than enough sailfish willing to give you the fight of your life, but nowadays more and more travelers are seeking adrenaline packed extreme sports to fill up their vacation weeks.
Instead of spending seven days dipping their toes in the sand, many people come to the Keys in search of adventure. And boy, oh boy, do they find it.
Photo by Sherry at aerohio.com
So, if you’re the type of person who finds peace and tranquility by jumping out of an airplane then Key Colony Beach and the Middle Keys will be right up your alley. Here’s why…
They call them Middle Keys for a reason.
Key Colony Beach’s is the perfect spot for basing your Florida Keys extreme sport vacation. You’ll love KCB’s upscale quiet tropical ambiance and its central location makes key hopping a breeze.
Setting up shop in the Middle Keys means that every inch of the archipelago will be at your fingertips, and each island has something different to offer. You’ll want to be sure to check out a few before heading back home to the office.
Let’s take a look at the myriad of the more extreme action packed activities within a hop, skip and a jump from Key Colony Beach.
Bombs Away! The Keys Boogie Skydiving Fest
The Keys Boogie Skydiving Fest offers something unique to thrill seeking skydivers…the opportunity to free-fall directly out of a helicopter!
Helicopter jumps are truly exceptional because they give partakers the sensation of falling straight down rather than gliding along from a moving airplane. Other aircraft taking part in the event include a Super Otter, Twin Otter and Pac 750.
Vast expanses of blue water and a bird’s eye view of the islands have led to skydivers routinely regarding jumps over the Keys as among the most visually stirring experiences around. Jumps at the Keys Boogie Skydiving Fest will land at beautiful Sombrero Beach in Marathon.
Registration is required.
Jump tickets are available separately and offerings include single and tandem jumps, 24-way RW group jumps, as well as free fly and wing suit jumps. A C license and flotation device are required of all skydivers.
But I don’t wanna jump…
So you like the idea of a bird’s eye view of the Keys but aren’t too keen on strapping into a parachute. No problem.
Overseas Aero Tours in Marathon offers incredible bi-plane rides that allow you to experience some of the most beautiful landmarks in the Florida Keys from the sky. From bridges, such as the aerial of old and new 7 mile bridge below, and lighthouses to marine wildlife such as sharks, rays, or manatees, it’s an experience of a lifetime.
Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
Prices for two people range from $110-$660 depending on the length of your tour.
Overseas Aero Tours
Ride a Jet Pack like the one James Bond used in “Thunderball."
Who wants to play out their 007 fantasy?
On nearby Islamorada, Florida Keys Jet Pack offers a solo JetLev flight experience similar to the jet pack system employed by James Bond in the movies. The engine pumps water through a 33 foot hose at rate more than 1,000 gallons per minute to push you into the air. Suddenly you are flying over the water with no effort! It can take only minutes to learn how to control your JetLev, and you are off and flying! Check out their FAQ to learn how it works and whether you're ready to feel like a super action hero zipping around as much as 30 feet above the water.
Reservations are required.
Florida Keys Jetpacks
84001 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, Florida 33036
Extreme SCUBA diving: exploring the wrecks.
Spectacular undersea voyages await with our local dive centers. With clear calm water and access to the only life coral reef in the country there’s always good diving in the Keys.
Nearby Coffins Patch and Sombrero Reef are well known as two of the top diving destinations in all of the Keys, but you'll also find expeditions to explore deeper reefs or famous offshore wrecks such as the USS Randolph (more commonly known as Thunderbolt).
The Wheel of the Thunderbolt. Image Courtesy of NOAA.
Extreme diving generally refers to any dive that reaches depths lower than 80 feet and discovering Thunderbolt gives thrill seeking divers the perfect deep water destination.
Built in 1942, the 188 foot USS Randolph was a former Army vessel tasked with performing lightning research. Hence the nickname Thunderbolt.
She sank in March of 1986 and today remains as the Middle Keys’ most popular wreck.
But this dive is not for beginners. You'll be required to show your C-card and log book to prove you can handle low visibility and strong currents. In the bow you’ll find the cable-laying wheel and schools of jacks and barracuda will serve as guides for your wreck tour.
It’s even possible to swim inside the wheelhouse and crew’s quarters or head up an amidships staircase to spot the twin bronze propellers.
If you’re SCUBA certified, touring Thunderbolt is something you won’t want to miss. More on Florida Keys Wreck Diving: Ten Days and Ten Wrecks in the Florida Keys.
Become a Florida “Spearo."
The living coral reef ecosystem off the coast of the Florida Keys provides a diverse marine wildlife that includes amazing spearfishing opportunities. And spearos love the Middle Keys because unlike other reefs, it doesn’t fall within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
You’ll need a boat to find the best spearfishing grounds which are generally three to six miles out where bigger fish evade hot summer temperatures in the refuge of cooler, deeper waters.
But it’s not hard to find a fishing buddy as the spearfishing aficionado group Club Spear has been organized by the friends and staff of Hall’s Diving Center. Club Spear will help you customize a local spearfishing trip and get you up to speed on safety, spear gun use and repair, regulations, and legal fish and size requirements.
You’ll be hunting for snapper, grouper, yellowtail, mutton and the local favorite, hogfish!
Above and Below Extreme Ocean Sports
Hall's Diving Center
5050 Overseas Hwy, Marathon
Catch on with one of the fastest growing sports in the world – Kiteboarding!
If you’ve got the ability to learn new things and the desire to have a great time, then perhaps kiteboarding (or kitesurfing) is for you!
Kiteboarding offers a unique alternative to surfing where riders can catch air and go fast with relatively little upper body strength. It’s a great opportunity to have extreme fun without having to have an extreme body. And the Middle Keys is one of the safest environments to learn the sport with warm, knee-high water that is ideal for launching and riding.
Feel the wind power you for miles on end at blood pumping speeds. Once you get a little practice under your belt you can head out to deeper channels to pop jumps or experience the rush of whizzing past estuaries on a backcountry safari.
Aaron Oster’s Florida Keys Kiteboarding is the place to head in Marathon for kiteboarding lessons. Beginner and Intermediate lessons are just $100 per hour, and once you’ve got the skills to manage a kiteboard on your own, ride alongs are only forty bucks!
As you can see, Key Colony Beach and environs offers something for every adventure seeker. For your next adrenaline filled vacation, consider the Middle Keys!
Looking for more things to do in the Middle Florida Keys? Check out our Attractions Guide.