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Imagine no traffic, no crowds and no noise—except the soft buzzing of a propeller and untamed gusts of wind. Wild blue waters rise and fall with each breath the Gulf of Mexico takes. You’re soaring about 500 feet above the Florida Keys island chain. Various forms of sea life bob and weave through the waves: hammerheads, giant sea turtles, roly-poly manatees and tiny, silver-crested fish. Well, they look tiny from your perch inside a seaplane, but they’re actually five-feet long tarpon.


That’s just another day in the life of pilots Julie Ann Floyd and Nikali Pontecorvo, co-owners of Key West Seaplanes. “Every single day I soak it in,” says Julie. “It’s a daily escape from the ground below. So peaceful and quiet. Just the water, wind and the seaplane.”


You’ve done the South Beach party scene and you’ve completed the ultimate road trip down to the Keys. Now it’s time for a new vantage point, one you can’t see from the highway.

Pack your bags, we’re going island-hopping around the Florida Keys by seaplane…

Key Biscayne


Technically Key Biscayne isn’t part of the Florida Keys, but it’s a great place to start because it’s only 15 miles from Miami International Airport. And unlike the rest of the action-packed city of Miami, the island of Key Biscayne exudes a more tranquil vibe. Now you’re officially on island time.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton on Key Biscayne is a luxurious beachfront resort with a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere. And because of it’s proximity to the Crandon Park Tennis Center, this hotel is where all the great pro tennis players like to stay every year during the Miami Open.

Where to Dine: You won’t have to go far for casual Mexican food, a collection of 110 types of tequila and drop-dead gorgeous beach views. Cantina Beach is located on-site at The Ritz. Nearby, 100% Natural offers tasty, health-conscious options including fresh-squeezed juice. For excellent Indian food, check out Ayesha at the Galleria Shopping Center across from the Key Biscayne Library.

Where to Play: You have two impressive stretches of sand to choose from: Crandon Park Beach and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Sit back and soak up some sun, go stand-up paddle boarding, or for the truly adventurous, try kite-boarding. Climb up the Cape Florida Lighthouse and the panoramic vistas from the top will literally take your breath away. The lighthouse (pictured above) is open at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Seaplane Pick-up/Drop Off Point: After a few days enjoying the sand and surf on Key Biscayne, meet up with Julie and Nikali at No Name Harbor, which is tucked inside the southwest edge of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. There’s a waterfront restaurant there called Boater’s Grill.

Related: Here’s how to book a stunning Mediterranean cruise 2016.



While most seaplane adventures will likely include a stop in Key Largo (and we definitely recommend doing so!), we’re focusing on Islamorada because it’s currently undergoing a creative renaissance. The sleepy fishing village is blossoming into a thriving community driven by a group of local entrepreneurs. And it’s the picture-perfect backdrop for the hit Netflix show, Bloodline.

Where to Stay: The brand new Amara Cay Resort is an upscale boutique property located directly on the water in Islamorada. It was formerly a budget-friendly Hampton Inn, but the new owners hired the talented Malcolm Berg and his architecture firm, EoA, to execute an impressive multi-million dollar renovation. Or check out the new and improved Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle. Both properties are sporting excellent new face lifts.

Where to DineOltremare Ristorante at Amara Cay is the perfect spot for a romantic Italian dinner. Other new, must-try restaurants in the area include oo-tray (a whiskey bar and gastropub), Bad Boy Burrito (originally a Key West outpost) and Chef Michael’s (owned by Executive Chef Michael Ledwith).

Where to Play: Reenact your favorite scenes from Bloodline at Anne’s Beach or Long Key State Park — both locations appeared on the TV series. And head over to the colorful tasting room at the brand new Florida Keys Brewing Co. for a tasty local beer and live music.

Seaplane Pick-up/Drop Off Point: Once you’ve adequately re-introduced yourself to the new and improved village of Islamorada, hitch a ride with Julie and Nikali at the dock at the Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar.

Little Palm Island


Let us introduce you to one of the most luxurious and unique islands in the country. There are no televisions and no telephones on this resort island situated off of Little Torch Key and Big Pine Key in the lower section of the island chain.

Where to Stay: There’s only one place to stay and believe us when we say that it’s a showstopper. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is a collection of romantic bungalow suites that are only accessible by boat or, in your case, seaplane. Because words can’t even begin to describe this enchanting place,watch the video below from VISIT FLORIDA.


Where to Dine: The Dining Room is the resort’s Zagat-rated restaurant offering a vibrant blend of French and Pan Latin flavors. For a truly memorable experience, ask the culinary team to set up a private dining experience for you under the thatched-roof gazebo at Palapa Point. Be on the look out for the native Key Deer that like to roam the island. They’ll come right up to your table.

Where to Play: The entire island is your playground. Hit the water for a backcountry fishingexcursion, snorkel the reef at Looe Key (the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is the world’s third largest barrier reef), or set sail aboard the resort’s 38-foot catamaran. And you definitely won’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing massage the resort’s serene spa.

Seaplane Pick-up/Drop Off Point: No need to leave the island. Julie and Nikali will scoop you up right at the Little Palm Island dock.

Related: 7 Florida beaches locals want to keep secret.

Key West


Because no Florida Keys trip is complete with out a visit to the Southernmost City, end your island-hopping adventure in Key West’s Old Town and witness some of the best sunsets you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Where to Stay: Two upscale resorts share the most coveted addresses on the island. Ocean Key Resort & Spa and Pier House Resort & Spa sit across the way from one another on the farthest west end of infamous Duval Street. Both hotels offer drop-dead gorgeous water views and are located within walking distance to the nightly sunset soiree at Mallory Square. If you want to stay in the heart of the action on Duval, then check out the newly renovated La Concha Hotel & Spa, complete with a stunning new rooftop spa that offers jaw-dropping views of the island.

Where to Dine: Hot Tin Roof offers delectable fine-dining and spectacular sunset views. For something a little more laid-back, check out the permanent location of Garbo’s Grill food truck at Grunt’s. An island mainstay that Jimmy Buffett sings about, Louie’s Backyard is a favorite for locals and visitors alike.

Where to Play: Head out on a snorkeling trip with the lively crew from Fury Water Adventures. With so many bars to choose from, you don’t have to pick just one! Stroll down Duval and throw back a cold one at Hog’s Breath, Capt Tony’s Saloon and Sloppy Joe’s. Listen to Michael McCloud strum his guitar at Schooner Wharf Bar. For a new and unique experience (at least for Key West), check out Wine-O, an elegant wine bar and lounge with more than 200 bottles from all over the world.

Seaplane Pick-up/Drop Off Point: Because the U.S. Coast Guard has certain rules about where seaplanes can land in Key West, the easiest place to take off and land is the Key West International Airport. Or you could opt for Stock Island Marina, which is located just north of Key West.

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Woman: Little Palm Island was always a place that I wanted to come visit. I had heard it was the ultimate of luxury. And I thought, you know, it’s on an island, it can’t be that bad. And you get here, and it’s just incredible.
Little Palm Island Resort can be reached only by boat or seaplane.
Woman: You enjoy the salty air and the wildlife, the birds. There’s Key deer roaming around this island.
Tiny Key Deer are an endangered species found only in the Florida Keys.
Woman: What is it about this place that keeps bringing people back?
Man: It’s the level of service. It’s the fact that we become an extended family to them. You know, we know what they like and what they dislike, and we do whatever it takes to make them happy and relax.
Woman: No iPhone. There’s no TV’s in the room, no computers, nothing. So you unplug, essentially from your life, and you really escape.
Man: It’s such a dynamic place, you know. So what we try to do is have a very professional service but casual and relaxed and real. And obviously you don’t get that at most places, so I don’t know, that’s what I love about it.
Woman: This place is truly a secluded island getaway, I mean, there’s no doubt about it. Like the birds are happy, the fish are happy. Everybody is having a great time. You can’t come to The Key’s and not have a good time. It’s a wonderful place to be.

Tagged: Florida

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Kara Franker
A purveyor of the coastal life and a self-admitted beach addict, Kara is a travel writer based in Miami. Follow her on Instagram @KaraOnTheCoast and check out her blog

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