Q, What part of the Everglades does your Enviro-Tours go?
A:, The Everglades has many faces, the freshwater regions with the sawgrass, alligators and sometimes, man eating mosquitoes. However, 62% of the Everglades National Park is a vast saltwater habitat with fish, sharks, dolphins, manatees, sponge gardens, pygmy seahorses and birds that swim underwater to ones that fly in the air. Ospreys, pelicans, Florida Great White Herons, even a few Southern Bald Eagles are just a few of the birdlife that can be viewed. Enviro-Tours is our boat tour that operates upon the shallow waters of Florida Bay, among islands, bays, and creeks just across the boundary of the Intercostal Waterway directly in front of the resort. We also include to each participant on the Enviro-Tour, a free pass as an observer to Dolphins Plus for their structured dolphin swim.
Q, How many people can you tour into the Everglades at one time?
A: The adventure eco-tour program begins on our Enviro-Tour boat (a dry and stable 17' AB Inflatiable RIB) that holds six participants plus the Captain. The six passenger Caribbean Cruiser (26' Glacier Bay catamaran) is also licensed to operate in the Everglades National Park. We have also been able to team up with select backcountry fishing experts and their boats to make a very personalized experience for groups up to 18. It is a very different experience than on the crowded 'Bus" type of motorboats.
Q, Do you offer tours into the Everglades National Park using Jetskis (WaveRunners)?
A, PWC's (Jetskis, WaveRunners & Sea-Doos) are banned from the Everglades National Park because, in part, of their excessive noise. Riders would miss the unique areas of Florida Bay that are only accessible by shallow draft boats such as our stealthy Enviro-Tour boat. Additionally, because of their speeds (up to near 60 mph) the risk of crashes because of riding too close to each other is great. It is simply not the right vehicle to use when explaining the eco system to small (or large) groups.
Q, How do I Parasail or go Parasailing (also known as Sky-Soaring or Para-gliding)?
A, All you have to do is Sit, Smile and Wave good by, our PAPO certified USCG licensed Captain and crew will give you and you friends the adventure of a lifetime. Our vessel has been specially manufactured for a "wench" type of parasailing. We can take up to six flyers or observers departing from our dock, dress you in our flight seat with retaining straps that keeps you safely in place and a life jacket. After inflating the canopy by the crew, you are attached to the parachute spreader bar, then you are reeled off or 'flown' off the back of the boat over the water. The Captain will be able to see you starting 3 feet from his eye sight to 600 feet from the boat and land you back on board. Take a throwaway camera to take photos from high up in the air (max of 450 feet!), take a photo of you're own face with the background of parasail, horizon line and water below! Rest assured that we follow all of our required PAPO rules for safety standards, that includes flying in too strong of winds, too heavy a tandem, flying higher that 500' (FAA rule) or inclement weather.
Q, What is the weight limits for flying with a friend?
A, It varies, the amount of prevailing wind, tells us the size of the proper canopy. In 0 to 15 mph winds, usually we use our Custom Chute 35' canopy for weights from 110 pounds to 425 pounds, with the higher end of the winds for the heavier loads. Winds over 16 mph, we use a smaller canopy of 30 feet diameter which brings down the max weight to about 265 pounds on the breezier days. We also use a 33' middle load canopy, too. Under PAPO Safety Rules and Insurance regulations, we must stop flight operations when the winds exceed 20 mph or gusts more that 25 mph. Weather safety is always our first concern, there will be other things to do at Caribbean Watersports when parasailing is not available.
Q. What are the age restrictions on Parasailing.
A. Parasailing: We offer a child harness from the age of 6, when flying with an adult. Younger that 5 are not allowed to fly. The preferred method is a front / behind sitting arrangement to maintain a center balance for the flyers. Children approximately 6 and older, may fly tandem with one over 11 years old with a combined weight of 130 pounds or more not exceeding max weight conditions for that day. We keep the tow line to under 300' length when flying children under 12 together.
A, Snorkeling: Everyone must have some, even if limited, swimming ability. However, training and practice can be arranged right at our beach before the snorkeling trips. Whether on our private charter boat (6) or the multi-passenger (49) off-property public boats, children can be assisted with wearing a ski vest and towed by the adult with a common 'noodle' float. All snorkelers must wear a inflatable vest while at the reef or on the bayside snorkel. Weather conditions must be approved by the Captain in any case.
Q, What kind of snorkeling activities do you offer?
A, We offer a great three hour snorkel tour to see tropical fish and coral reefs on the Atlantic ocean side of the Upper Keys. Sometimes, we see dolphins and turtles on the way. Our guests may check out the required mask, snorkel & fins to use off the beach prior their snorkel trip. We have a variety of reefs in both the Pennekamp State waters or the FLKNMS, the federal waters. See 'Christ of the Deep', 'Grecian Rocks' or 'Hens and Chickens' reefs, all very shallow profiles. Our Glacier Bay 2640 Caribbean Cruiser snorkel-cruise boat is comfortable and dry and makes the trip to the coral reefs quickly. It departs directly from the resort. Because there is a maximum of six persons on each trip, reserve early. We also offer, as the hotel's snorkeling concierge, snorkeling trips to the reefs from off-property venders at no extra charge. These are larger boats offering a lower price, but with a larger capacity of up to 49 passengers. Just let us know how we may help plan your families vacation by calling us or visiting us down at the beach.
Q, What do I have to know about sailing a Hobie Catamaran?
A, If you have good experience sailing a Sunfish or sailing dinghy, then you'll love to sail one of our Hobies! They're like little sports cars on the water. Plenty of power in the sail, but the boat is built wide so that you can sit on the windward hull to harness the power of the wind to go faster. We'll tell you what to do if you capsize and where to sail in the 3 mile by 1.5 mile bay of only 5 feet deep. If big mono-hull sailboats have been your style, you'll appreciate the maneuverability of the Hobie Getaway or Wave. Of course, if you like to learn to sail, we can arrange an hour or two with one of our skippers and they can teach you to sail the Hobie Way!
Q, What kind of Day Trips can you recommend?
A, If you find yourself with plenty of sun in your face, good weather and time on your hands, there is plenty of things to do in Key Largo. It’s a huge outdoor arcade, take a snorkel tour on our Caribbean Cruiser to the Oceanside on the eastside of the island offers snorkeling out on the coral reefs of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. We can also arrange diving on the sunken shipwrecks or fishing in the big blue Gulf Stream. On the western side is Florida Bay and the Everglades National Park which offers two different faces; the freshwater lands of sawgrasses, Alligators and Crocodiles which you can take a short drive by car to see or, even shorter, take our Enviro-Tour boat over shallow, saltwater surrounded islands, nestled with birds, dolphins, sharks, and crabs, even pygmy seahorses.
Our Concierge Services include some of the best Private Fishing Charter Captains in the Upper Keys. Backcountry Guides will take you to the most pristine areas of Everglades National Park to catch to likes of Tarpon, Reds, Shark, Bone, Permit and others. Offshore Fishing Captains specialize in all sorts of Billfish, Tuna, Mau-Mui, Grouper and Snapper. NearShore Captains will fill your cooler with Yellowtail and Red Snapper.
Don’t forget about all the other watersports one can do in a morning or afternoon of ‘Fun in the Sun’ right here off the beach.
If you find yourself with a not-so-nice of a day in paradise, a day trip up to Dade County starting with Homestead/Florida City, then west to the Everglades National Park’s main entrance is a great idea. Yes, you will see Alligators and probably loads of birds common on the mainland part of the park. On the way there, stop in at Robert Is Here, a little gardeners market for a tasty smoothie before the main gate. Also in Homestead is the famous Miami-Homestead Speedway where NASCAR, home to auto, truck and bike races. Farther north along US 1, you'll have great shopping centers like The Falls, Sunset Place in South Miami, or the excitement of Coconut Grove and South Beach within an hour or slightly more.
If it’s south you desire, then there is Islamorada about 20 mins. away. Stop in at the Worldwide Sportsman – Morada Bay complex, the upper keys only boardwalk area. If south is still your game, then Key West is about another hour and a half away. Palmed lined streets and funky folks abound in this end of the road island town. Plenty of food and drink, shops and people watching is the way of life here. Just remember, it’s a long two hours back to the upper keys.
Q, Did your resort used to be called the Key Largo Grande or the Sheraton or the Westin? And did Caribbean Watersports use to be also in Islamorada?
A, Between 1983 to 1988, Caribbean Watersports was located at MM 104, next to the Caribbean Club. In 1989, the Sheraton Key Largo became our new home at MM 97. The hotel since then has changed names to the Westin Beach Resort Key Largo, then a few years later to the Sheraton Beach Resort Key Largo, all under the Starwood group. As of April 15, 2008 the hotel has operated as the Key Largo Grande Resort and Beach Club, A Hilton Resort. As of April 1, 2012, it is now named: Hilton Key Largo Resort. Prior to that date, as the Key Largo Grande Resort and Beach Club, under the LXR Luxury Resorts group, a division of Blackstone. Blackstone also owns Hilton Resorts. We also operated all the watersports, including a PADI 5 Star Dive Center at Cheeca Lodge from 1996 to 2001. Over the years we have provided professional watersports services as far north as Key Biscayne to Ocean Reef Club to Hawks Cay. Other family members businesses included the watersports at Holiday Isle, Snappers, Howard Johnson's and the Quay in Key Largo, Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami.