The three island keys of Islamorada include Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys, Windley Key, and Plantation Key. Plantation Key is the northernmost island. Moving southwest, Windley Key is the next island, followed by Upper Matecumbe Key and Lower Matecumbe Key. Each key offers unique recreational opportunities that can be found in the many state parks and nature preserves that encompass all of the islands. Islamorada Founders Park is located on Plantation Key. This 40-acre facility is considered a jewel by locals in that the sports complex, filled with baseball diamonds and soccer fields, is located steps from the ocean. The Windley Key State Geological Site is another treasure in these parts. The site was built on what once was a coral rock quarry. Its location makes this attraction a great place for walking and hiking though foliage that provides cool shade in the warmer months. The site is filled with fossils of sea creatures and provides a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the islands rich and storied history.
In 1733, hurricane winds shipwrecked an entire Spanish treasure fleet along the reefs of Islamorada. News of the shipwreck spawned what soon became a thriving wrecking industry throughout all of the Florida Keys from the mid 1700s through the 1870s. The industry served to make Key West the wealthiest city in the United States for several decades. “Wreckers,” as they were called, were paid a portion of the total value of the merchandise they helped to salvage. By the turn of the 20th Century, canning factories began to dominate the area. On Matecumbe Key, the main canning factory was for pineapples with local farmers also raising limes, melons and vegetables. Originally only accessible by boat, Henry M. Flagler began a quest to build a train that ran from Miami to Key West. The nine year project was finally completed in 1912 and from that point forward, the Florida Keys began to steadily evolve into what they are today.
While the island-keys serve to redefine what it means to relax and getaway, the islands themselves remain self-sufficient by offering both education and employment opportunities to their residents.
Treasure Village Montessori Charter School is a public elementary school, serving students K-5. This public institution is part of the Monroe School District. Island Christian School is a private school that educates students K-12. Island Christian is the main high school for all island students and has a student population of approximately 200. For those seeking employment opportunities, the Islamorada Village of Islands mainly offers employment in the retail, hotel, restaurant, and agriculture industries. Larger keys such as Marathon offer additional opportunities while many also make the commute to the mainland where cities like Miami serve as the international headquarters of many large-enterprise companies. To avoid commutes, many employed islanders work remotely from home, which limits their travel and allows them to truly enjoy the benefits of living in this part of the country. To these ends, the concept of leaving the fast-paced world behind is achieved without becoming completely disconnected.
Whether moving here to retire, raise a family or make a fresh start, area attractions and amenities provide a multitude of social and economic opportunities. Islamorada's blend of oceanfront elegance, unspoiled nature, cultural entertainment and excitement, arts and crafts, boutiques and world-renowned shopping make any of its island keys a great place to live, work and play.
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