Hawaii aside, there’s nowhere more southerly in the US than the Florida Keys, an arc of a hundred tiny islands curving towards the Caribbean, just 90 miles south. The feeling is just as tropical: here, teal-blue waters lap at mangroves and soft mudflats, and pastel houses line sherbet-bright beaches.
As midwinter tightens its icy grip across the pond, the Keys enter their sunniest, driest time (though waters are rarely less than warm any time here). Make a beeline to one of the Keys’ prettiest stretches, Islamorada, a chain of five beach-fringed islands surrounded by unbroken vistas of blue. It’s hard to get much closer to the sea than the Pines & Palms Resort, a cluster of white-painted cottages surrounded by palm trees right on the beach.
If you can drag yourself out of your hammock, it’s also a good base for experiencing the area’s water-based pleasures: snorkelling among schools of tropical fish, barracudas and even sharks and sea turtles in the midst of one of the USA’s few coral reefs. Another option is a tour on an electric boat, gliding silently through mangroves and lagoons; or take a canoe to Indian Key Historic State Park, a ghost island where jungle trails lead among ruins, and dolphins and rays ply the waters.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Many of the pastel-hued suites and cottages of Pines & Palms have balconies or patios right on the beach, and there’s also a pool. The resort can arrange activities such as bike rentals and snorkelling. Robbie’s offers the listed tours.
AirCanada, Norwegian, Swiss, Thomas Cook Airlines and US Airways fly to Miami from London and Manchester. It’s then 90 mins by minibus to Islamorada.