Destinations

Bucket List Adventures: Getting (Pretty) High within the Florida Keys

The Route 1 drive over The Florida Keys is among the many nation’s most scenic drives. Hopping from one pint-sized island to the subsequent – the waters of the Atlantic to the east; the calmer waves of the Gulf of Mexico to the west – is serene in a approach that solely Jimmy Buffet can totally admire. But arguably one of the best ways to expertise the Keys is from the air.

Which is how we discovered ourselves aboard a helicopter sunset flight with Viator (one more nice tour that was a part of our participation in Viator’s Ambassador Program). Last yr’s flight over the Canadian Rockies was, in a phrase, unforgettable. Our newest flight offered an altogether totally different, however each bit as memorable, expertise.

Pulling into the tiny Marathon Airport, we discovered it closed. Every day at six o’clock sharp, they lock the doorways. There isn’t any air visitors management tower. One can solely surmise that is because of the lack of, ya know, visitors. Pilots as a substitute depend on the ability and judgement of their fellow pilots to maintain everybody abreast of their plans (fingers crossed …). All of which is to say: it’s small and fairly laid again.

But our pilot, Mike (no relation), met us on the reception space along with his canine, Shane Dog. In retaining with the no-frills Florida Keys ethos, previous to our tour, there was no paperwork to fill out, no prolonged check-in course of, no security briefing … no actual briefing in any respect truly.

Guess they have been all out of Key Lime Pie =(

From there, we walked a couple of hundred toes to our ready chariot. The vibrant, canary yellow hen seated solely 4 individuals, together with the pilot, and was each bit as low-key as Marathon itself.

Florida Keys Helicopter Flight
Our vibrant yellow whirlybird

In-flight facilities included two cupholders, an ashtray, and seatbelts (“Please don’t let the straps flap around outside the door or they might dent the fuselage.”). There was no AC and there can be no in-flight meal service.

Mike & Kelsey Before Taking Off
It’s laborious to not be giddy earlier than a helicopter flight!

Fortunately, we had the chopper all to ourselves. Pilot Mike provisioned us with two fanny-pack-esque flotation units, assuring us that we wouldn’t want them. I suppose, if it’s a must to drown, there are worse locations to take action than the Florida Keys. We hopped aboard for a three-minute intro that included rudimentary seat belt instruction and letting the engine correctly warmth up. And up we went …

Almost instantly, the view was gorgeous:

View from the helicopter cockpit at sunset
Sunset. Florida Keys. Enough Said.

From the bottom, the ocean, the Florida Keys by no means disappoint. But, this was the primary time both of us had skilled the island chain from the air.

In a couple of brief minutes, we have been gliding over the well-known Seven Mile Bridge. Mike identified faculties of eagle rays, a turtle, and both a manatee/dolphin/small submarine — we’re nonetheless uncertain — all loitering across the bridge.

Circling over Pigeon Key, we noticed a tour group who couldn’t grasp why this tiny whirlybird was hovering so shut above them. After a couple of fast twirls downward, we have been shut sufficient to wave and smile at them, which the group instantly returned. Because, actually, who doesn’t like helicopters?

Even at low altitude (500-ish toes), it’s wonderful simply how far we might see. The Keys are a large archipelago however, from the air, they appear so compact as for those who can seize the complete chain in a single {photograph}.

After a couple of extra rounds over the bridge, we headed again for the airport. Thankfully, our “ground crew” (learn: my aunt) noticed our chopper from the bottom and snapped this X-Files-esque picture of us overhead in silhouette:

Our Helicopter in Silhouette
A Keys UFO!

It’s simple to see why the Pigeon Key people have been apprehensive at first.

Time flies while you’re, effectively, flying and it’s wonderful how shortly twenty minutes go by. Viator additionally affords a 60-minute flight and I feel we’d go for that subsequent time. While it’d seem to be a once-in-a-lifetime bucket listing expertise, Kelsey and I might do it once more in a heartbeat!

The submit Bucket List Adventures: Getting (Pretty) High within the Florida Keys appeared first on Vagabondish.

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