Renowned for its tropical beauty, Ponce de Leon arrived in what is now Key Biscayne in 1513 and was struck by its beauty. Five miles long and 1.5 miles wide, the island -- which de Leon named Santa Maria, is lined with palm trees, white sand beaches and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Biscayne Bay on the west. The historic island, which was once occupied by Tequesta Indian settlers who named it "Favorite Path of the Rising Moon" because of its spectacular vistas during a full moon, now attracts nature lovers, families and vacationers. Unlike Miami Beach or the Keys, there is not much nightlife (and only two hotels on the island), making it the perfect Miami vacation if you want that relaxing barefoot-in-the-sand getaway. Here are our recommendations for visiting Key Biscayne.
Set on 12 acres of tropical gardens, the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne lives up to its prestigious reputation as Miami's first and only AAA five-diamond resort. A West Indies colonial-inspired décor lends an island feel to this 450-room oceanfront property. Recently renovated, the luxurious rooms feature warm sunset colors, plush beds outfitted with Italian Frette linens, marble baths and large balconies overlooking the ocean or lush gardens. At the two heated oceanview pools – one for adults and one for families – the attentive staff will bring you everything from a perfect Cuban mojito and scented hand towels to chilled sunscreen.
For the sports-minded, the resort's Tennis Center features a total of 11 courts, which are lit at night for evening play. Additional recreational activities include a stroll to the historic Cape Florida lighthouse as well as kayaking, sailing and windsurfing on the beach, ranked one of country's best beaches by Dr. Beach.
The resort also boasts an award-winning 20,000-square-foot spa, replete with a relaxing Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, accessible to all resort guests. The luxurious spa offers 60 treatments, many designed with natural blends found in South Florida and the Caribbean. Signature treatments include the indulgent Baborganic Body Treatment (80 minutes, $210) during which molten wax is poured on the body, then followed by a relaxing massage; and the Anti-Aging Oxygen Facial (50 minutes, $195) which uses encapsulated oxygen to rejuvenate and stimulate skin.
When you're hungry, there is no reason to leave the Ritz – this is a resort, after all. There are four restaurants on-site, to suit your cravings:
For Ritz-Carlton hotel reservations, visit the Ritzcarlton.com; pending availability, rooms start at $309 through April.
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