Deep Key Fishing

Islamorada, Florida

Aug 22, 2006
Outside Magazine
Cheeca Lodge and Spa

Cheeca Lodge and Spa

Islamorada—a seven-square-mile length of sand and scrub in the 1,700-island Florida Keys archipelago—gets sloshed with waves from both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay (known to locals as "the backcountry"). The island's waters are stuffed with a staggering 600 species of fish and the only tropical coral reef in the continental U.S. Push off from Cheeca Lodge & Spa's 525-foot pier—a nod to the island's stretch geography—with the Backcountry Fishing Package ($900 per couple for three days and two nights) and cast for marlin, snapper, sailfish, and wahoo from a privately guided boat. If you'd rather swim with the fish than hook them, you can practically brush flipper to fin with angelfish, parrotfish, spotted rays, and green moray eels at Alligator Reef and Cheeca Rocks, two nearby dive sites. On the shore, the recently renovated property is just as stunning as the aquatics, with 27 beachfront acres highlighted by a spa that focuses on indigenous treatments, four waterfront restaurants (the chefs will prepare your catch-of-the-day), and 201 guest rooms and suites with oversize bathtubs, mahogany beds, and giant windows with sweeping views of the Atlantic and the resort's 27 palm-swept acres. Doubles from $250; 800-327-2888,