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Florida Guide > Other Florida



Whilst staying in Key Largo recently we decided to try out the locally advertised glass bottomed boat trip.

We had intended to take the tour that starts in the John Pennecamp State Park, but on telephoning we found that, although they would ‘hold’ two tickets we nevertheless had to be at the dock an hour before the sailing in order to claim our tickets. Unfortunately, as I had rung at 8 am for the 9. 15 am sailing it would have meant a very quick pack of our belongings and immediate departure from the hotel, without the benefit of any breakfast, and, from my conversation with the reservations clerk, little hope of any at the dock.

However, we were only a couple of hundred yards from an alternative boat trip. This one being based at the Holiday Inn Docks at Mile Marker 100 on US 1. We were able to book tickets at the hotel gift shop and still find time to nip across the road to Docs Diner for a spot of breakfast.

The Key Largo Princess, our glass bottomed boat, is moored alongside the Holiday Inn and next to it is the African Queen; the boat featured in the 1951 film of the same name, featuring Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn. After we had taken a few photos of the Queen we boarded the Princess and were soon slowly easing our way past the homes and boats of some of Key Largo’s wealthier residents and towards the open sea. Having left the ‘no wake zone’ we picked up speed, but due to the crystal clear waters and the fact that the water was only eight to ten feet deep, were still able to clearly see the seabed and its occupants. We were soon spotting turtles, small sharks and even a dolphin.

However our attention was soon captured by one of the staff asking if anybody wished to take part in a promotional video that was being shot on board, and which was to be shown on US television. There was at first general reluctance to volunteer, until he asked if anybody wanted a free beer (or other drink) and to be featured in the film. There was a sudden change in attitude and at 10. 30 am, beers in hand, we were soon extolling the virtues of the Key Largo Princess!

About three quarters of an hour after leaving the dock we were in position over the John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park and enjoying views of Star and Brain corals, sea fans and sea plumes and a whole variety of fish including wrasse, yellow tailed snapper, striped Sergeant Major fish, spotted rays and more turtles, all just a few feet below the hull in which the windows are set. During our half hour or so above the coral reef one of the crewmembers kept us well informed as to what we could see below us, and I have to say we saw plenty on this occasion.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable two-hour trip, well narrated and with the extra benefit, on this occasion, of a free drink!

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Page added on: 7 July 2008
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