Recently my family and I left Naples and headed to the Florida Keys for a short vacation. This was one of these trips that was planned six months in advanced by my wife, Mindi. She likes to preplan these trips to maximize our fun. Our son, Logan, received his scuba diving certification last year and this would be his first dive since his certification since our planned dive trips were interrupted by Hurricane Irma last year. Logan’s friend, Dale and his family met us in Key Largo for this trip.
We left Naples on a beautiful, Saturday morning at a little past 7:00 am. We arrived at the top of the Keys and stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, our normal stop before heading into Key Largo.
As we left the restaurant and headed South, it wasn’t long until we came upon the aqua wall. The aqua wall is the divider between the North and South lanes. This type of wall is normally plain concrete anywhere else, but not in the Florida Keys.
The aqua color of the wall instantly tells your mind to relax and slow down because you have arrived to the tropical, slower pace of the Florida Keys. For 16 miles the aqua wall guides you to the top of the first Key…Key Largo.
We arrived in Key Largo at 11:00 am and drove by one of my favorite restaurants, Jimmy Johnsons The Big Chill http://jjsbigchill.com/. A short time later, we arrive at our hotel, the Marriot Key Largo Beach Resort…which is located on the bay side.
Mindi headed to the hotel resort pool for an afternoon of relaxing with her book poolside. We meet up with Logan’s’ friend’s family and headed to the dive shop: Horizon Diver’s https://www.horizondivers.com/. In my opinion, this is one of the best run dive operations in the Florida Keys.
We arrived at the dive boat and were happy to see one of Logan’s dive instructors, Mike, from Scuba Outfitters in Naples https://www.scubaoutfittersnaples.com/. Mike and his partner, Teresa, run a great local dive shop in Naples, FL.
After a brief boat ride, we arrive at our dive site, the Christ of the Abyss at the Pennekamp State Park. https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/key-largo/the-keys-john-pennekamp-coral-reef-state-park.html. The water is crystal clear, and the boys are ready to dive. We jump in the pool as Jessica the boat captain calls it and head directly to the Christ statue. Logan poses standing next to the statue and I start taking pictures.
The rest of the dive is beautiful with more fish than I can possibly count. The best was the Tarpon that swam with us around the reef. Dodging in an out of the swim throughs in the reef.
After the dive, we headed back to the hotel where the boys wanted to go paddle boarding. Logan being the athlete he is had no problem handling the board.
On Sunday, It was time to leave for home but not without a stop at one of my favorite lunch spots Jimmy Johnson’s The Big Chill. http://jjsbigchill.com/ . Jimmy Johnson, former Dallas Cowboys coach, is an avid fisherman. You can view his fishing tournament trophy rings in a case inside the restaurant. The Big Chill is also home to Jimmy Johnson’s Fishing Championship with a guaranteed purse of $1.75 Million to be awarded March 2019. www.jfishweek.com.