Food and Fun in Key Largo

The diving off of Key Largo is great but we also had a lot of fun in town. Live entertainment and new restaurants were two themes of the week.

Eileen and I both liked the hotel. This was my second stay at the Courtyard Marriott at mile marker 100. One advantage of the hotel is that it’s located right next to the Rainbow Reef dive boats and not far from Coconuts restaurant.

Key Largo 2012 - Courtyard
By Eileen Moran

This year we had a 3rd floor room facing east. On Sunday morning we woke to an impressive sunrise outside of the balcony door. This was the first trip I have been able to enjoy the sunrise like this.

Key Largo 2012 - Sunrise July 8
Key Largo 2012 – Sunrise July 8

I have been going to Coconuts at the Marina Del Mar Hotel since my first trip to Key Largo in 2005. It’s close to all four hotels near the “fishing village” at mile marker 100. This means it’s in walking distance, which is nice after you have had a few (or a few too many).

Photo by Eileen Moran

Coconuts has an outdoor dining deck and a bar under a large tent.

Key Largo 2012 - Eileen at Coconuts

Happy hour is from 4pm to 6pm. In addition to drink specials you can get appetizer specials from the raw bar. We enjoyed our share (and then some) of peel-and-eat shrimp from the raw bar during the week.

They have nightly live entertainment on the deck from 6 to 9pm. I was pleased to see that some of my favorite musicians from years past were still playing on the deck.

Key Largo 2012 - Kim at Coconuts
Kim Bankston at Coconuts. Photo by Eileen Moran.

On Tuesday evenings you can listen to Kim Bankston perform. This guy in incredible! During the show he plays the saxophone, xylophone, and guitar in addition to singing. Website CD Baby tells us,

“Kim Bankston is a truly gifted multi-talented musician.he plays a variety of instruments including vibes,and marimba,and is also a gifted singer as well. He brings a fresh new sound to the music scene with a mixture of contemporary jazz,R&B,Island,and beautiful love songs.”

I just discovered that he has published three CD’s which can be purchased at CD or on iTunes.

Eileen with Key Largo musician Bobbe Brown

A long time favorite entertainer at Coconuts is Bobbe Brown. Bobbe plays a lot of classic rock and singer songwriter hits from the 60’s and 70’s. He tells the crowd to, “Request your favorite songs”. However he seems to play many of my favorites without a requests, which is really cool.

A few examples of songs he plays include:

  • For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield
  • Brandy by Looking Glass
  • Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? by Chicago
  • Stormy by the Classics IV
  • How Long by Ace
  • Never my Love by the Association
  • Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Whithers
  • Plus dozens of other hit songs

He often jokes that he is required by contract to play Jimmy Buffet songs. I suspect he says this for the benefit of the locals who are probably sick of the songs. However I like Buffet’s hits and Bobbe does a great job playing them. It seems right to hear some Jimmy Buffet songs while in the Keys.

Key Largo 2012 - Mark with Bobby Brown
Mark with Key Largo musician Bobbie Brown.
Key Largo 2012 - Sunset from Coconuts
Sunset from Coconuts

We caught this nice sunset from the Coconuts bar. The sunset was even better since we were at a bar, enjoying good food and drinks while listening to good live music.

The Key Largo Conch House came highly recommended by several friends that live in Key Largo. This is a place I  had wanted to go since my 2011 trip to Key Largo. The Conch House is close enough to the hotel so that we could walk there.

Key Largo 2012 - Courtyard

The Key Largo Conch House is a small one room restaurant with outside seating on the porch.

Key Largo Conch House
Inside the Key Largo Conch House – from

The daily sangria special is a treat. My favorite is the Very Berry sangria followed by the Star Fruit sangria. Eileen got a frozen smoothy drink that is tasty. Of course we had to try their award winning conch chowder. I also enjoyed a piece of their award winning Conch House key lime pie with a glass of milk.

A large flat screen TV inside the restaurant was showing a fantastic HD video featuring many of the best dive sites in the upper and middle keys. It was cool to see some of the sites we had recently been to while eating and relaxing.

Key Largo 2012 - Mark at the Conch House
Mark at the Conch House near the man vs. Food banner.

The Conch House is featured in an episode of Man vs. Food Nation. Host Adam Richman tried the Conch House conch fritter eating challenge. Naturally I had to get an order of the same fritters.I have never had a fritter before and was not sure what to expect.I discovered a conch fritter was conch mixed with vegetables mixed with flour, eggs and milk then deep fried. It was served with a really good dipping sauce. The Conch House fritters had a faint curry taste and smell. There were good but I could see how they could fill you up fast.

The place is surrounded by lush trees, plants and flowers teaming with birds and lizards. On one of our visits we spotted this small Brown Anole lizard watching us from a tree. Eileen was able to get pretty close for a photograph before it darted off.

Key Largo 2012 - Conch House Brown Anole Lizard
Brown Anole Lizard at the Conch House in Key Largo by Eileen Moran

Since this article is about fun as well as food I have to mention our jet ski rental experience.  I had rented a jet ski down in Islamorada on a previous trip and had a blast. This time I tried Keys Skis.

Key Largo 2012 - Eileen on a Jet Ski
Eileen on a Jet Ski

Keys Skis is located just down the road from our hotel at Key West Inn. The rates were among the lowest in the immediate area.

Key Largo 2012 - Mark and Eileen on a Jet Ski
Mark and Eileen on a Jet Ski

We went out the boat canal along Ocean Blvd and Ocean Cay to the ocean side of the island. We were allowed to ride in an large area between the boat channel and shoreline for an hour. I had the jet ski up to about 30 mph at one point. We both got totally soaked. I even got some video footage from the experience.

Key Largo 2012 - Eileen near the African Queen

Key Largo is also home to the African Queen. It is the actual boat used in the movie staring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. During the last few years I had noticed the boat was showing its age. During this trip I was happy to discover that a local businessman, Captain Lance Holmquist and his wife Suzanne, had undertaken the job to restore the boat. They have done a wonderful job! You can even go out on the boat for a short cruise now. The boat is now powered with an outboard motor, there is a fund-raising project underway to restore the boiler to power the boat.

Key Largo 2012 - Sunrise July 13
Sunrise on Friday July 13 2012 in Key Largo, FL

On Friday the 13th we were treated to another amazing cloud formation and sunrise from the balcony.

Sadly our stay ended on July 14th when we flew back to New Hampshire. We both hope to go back to the Keys soon.