Dive Teeming Water
The Florida Keys are close enough to the mainland for an ideal quick getaway and far enough away to make you feel as if you're in another country. There are almost 1,700 islands in the Keys, but Key Largo, Islamorada, and Key West-linked by the Overseas Highway- offer the most amenities.
Get out there
Thanks to warm waters, coral reefs, and shipwrecks, the Keys are one of the best destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving, especially since the waters are federally protected as a National Marine Sanctuary. You can snorkel off any beach, but to get a front-row seat for the underwater show, you need to head a few miles offshore to the reefs. Dive Key West runs daily snorkeling and diving trips, and its one-day introductory resort course will have you donning scuba gear after just a few hours ($199; divekeywest.com).
We'd understand if you wanted to stay submerged for days, but there is plenty to check out above water as well: From the west side of Key Largo you can kayak near the southern boundary of the Everglades. As you paddle under a canopy of mangroves, you just might spot a manatee (from $35 for four hours; kayakfloridakeys.com).
Where to stay
For a tropical-hideaway feel, stay at the Cheeca Lodge on Islamorada. The 27- acre grounds house saltwater and freshwater pools as well as a spa (doubles from $269; cheeca.com). If you prefer to be closer to the nightlife, Merlin Guesthouse is just two blocks from busy Duval Street in Key West (rooms from $135; merlinguesthouse.com).