The State Parks in the Florida Keys are wonderful places. You can explore underwater reefs; camp on the beach; hike some tails; cry "fish on"!
There are quite a few Florida Keys State Parks, and they do offer something for everyone who loves the great outdoors. And face it, that's one of the reasons to come to the Florida Keys -- the beautiful weather and exciting list of things to do.
On this list of state parks, I'll be traveling from north, starting in Key Largo, and going south to Key West. I'll give a short description of the park, and then give you a link to where I've described it more fully.
State Parks in Florida Keys -- Upper
The Florida upper Keys -- Key Largo through Indian Key -- are a treasure-trove of state parks!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: This unique Florida Keys coral reef park is mostly underwater. Yes, there is plenty of dry land, but you come here to explore the coral reef, either in the water or on a glass-bottom boat. Camping, kayaking and hiking are three more of the things to do at Pennekamp.
Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park: This is a different kind of state park, in that it's mostly just hiking or biking the six miles of trails. You can picnic, and also keep a watch out for the varied wildlife -- one reason this Keys park didn't end up as a condominium complex!
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park: A little hard to get to, Lignumvitae can only be accessed by boat. It boasts one of the last remaining hardwood hammocks in the Florida Keys. There's boating, fishing, diving and guided ranger walks.
San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park: A delight for divers, Sand Pedro is mainly underwater, focusing on the wreck of the San Pedo in 1733. You can also swim and snorkle, as well as enjoy some boating. Note: you have to get to the park via boat.
Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park: A quarry used to occupy this park, digging up fossilized coral. The quarry is gone, but you can still see a section of it, and learn about its history. There are also five short trails and a picnic area.
Indian Key State Historical Site: This park is historic for a good reason -- it was once the county seat of Dade (now Miami-Dade) county. Now Indian Key is home to hiking, swiming, boating, fishing and all kinds of Florida outdoors enjoyment.
Florida Keys State Parks -- Middle Keys
There are only two Florida Keys state parks in the middle keys, in the Marathon area. They are also a reasonable drive (as far as distance) from Key West.
Long Key State Park: Long Key has something very few of the other state parks in Florida Keys has -- a beach! Consider Long Key for camping in the Florida Keys -- it has some nice sites. Long Key also has camping, boating, hiking and ranger programs, with guided walks and campfire tales.
Curry Hammock State Park: If you like gunkholing, Curry Hammock is the place to do it. This little jewel of a park often gets overlooked because of its neighbors, Long Key and Bahia Honda. Curry Hammock is home to hiking, swimming, fishing, snorkeling and more.
State Parks in the Lower Keys and Key West
Just two are this far south, but they both have lots to offer!
Bahia Honda State Park: If you are thinking of camping in the Florida Keys, Bahia Honda has the best campgrounds and nicest beach in all of the Florida Keys, and probably in all of the Florida State Parks, period! There's also plenty to do at Bahia Honda, including fishing, swimming, snorkeling/diving, tours, hiking...you get the idea! Lots of things to do here.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park: This is the southernmost of the Florida State Parks, and boasts the best beach in Key West! You can snorkel an honest-to-goodness Florida Keys coral reef right off the beach, as well as picnic, walk the nature trail, or rent a kayak.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of things to do in the the Florida Keys state parks!