As Caribbean as it gets while remaining in the United States, the Florida Keys are a special kind of paradise. While the islands of the Caribbean are almost unanimously formed by volcanic activity, the Florida Keys are constructed of coral reefs. The ground on which you walk, the beaches on which you relax, have their foundation in the ancient reefs. The peaceful atmosphere of the nature-oriented archipelago will have your student group smiling in no time.
There are 1,700 islands officially belonging to the Keys, though only 43 are connected by overland bridges and thus are easily accessible. Of the 1,700, only five are immediately recognizable by the general touring community. Frankly, they're all you need for a graduation celebration like no other.
First, and closest to Miami, is Key Largo. Drive across the ocean using the amazing Seven Mile Bridge and escape into heaven on earth. Many of the Keys are known for their international record-breaking activities. For example, Key Largo is the diving capital of the world with everything from exciting scuba diving and snorkeling in shipwrecks and reefs to an underwater sculpture park and even an underwater hotel.
From Key Largo, drive on down the Keys to Islamorada, the sportfishing capital of the world, and further down to Marathon Key, a popular destination for family vacations. A general favorite of the laid-back crowd and beachgoers, Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys fascinate with wildlife reserves, rich history, and a pervading aura of relaxation. (Many Fort Lauderdale sites included in attractions as well).
Last but not least, you'll arrive finally in Key West, the southernmost city in the United States and favored destination of Ernest Hemingway. This close to Cuba, you'll definitely notice a change in atmosphere. Walking through the streets shaded with palm trees, lined with colorful mansions owned by even more colorful people, you'll feel right at home. Historic sites, delicious restaurants, snorkeling sites, and fishing spots, and more await.
You've graduated (or are about to), so treat yourself and your friends to a trip like no other!