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A Keys Glossary

Unique destinations pepper the language with unique terminology. Here are just a few "Key" phrases that will help you find your way through our fabulous islands

BACKCOUNTRY
The waters of the Florida Bay, famous for their shallows (or "flats") and mangrove islands. Home to some of the best & greatest variety of backcountry gamefish species in the world. Really.

BAYSIDE
The Florida Bay side of U.S. Highway 1, generally the northwestern side. As you are traveling U.S. 1 from Miami to Key West, the right side. Term is used interchangeably with "gulfside."

BLUEWATER
The waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The term "Bluewater Fishing" is often used to describe an offshore, deep-sea fishing adventure.

CONCH
Florida Keys natives are referred to (usually by one another) as Conchs. A source of local pride and a badge of distinction, a person must be either descendant from the islands'original Bahamian settlers, or born here in order to be considered a Conch. Since there are currently no neo-natal units in the Keys, new Conchs are difficult to find. But you can still hope to be a part of the club:

  • Honorary Conch: A person may be bestowed this title by the Mayor of Monroe County, if determined to be "a clear-thinking kindred soul, eminently worthy" of the honor of being a Citizen of The Fabulous Florida Keys.
  • Freshwater Conch: A person who has lived (full-time) in the Keys for at least 7 years.
  • Conchlet: A small (usually young) Keys resident. Like their water-bound counterparts, they are usually found in groups (schools).

FLORIDA KEYS AIR FORCE
A group of pelicans flying in V-formation.

GULFSIDE
The Gulf of Mexico side of U.S. Highway 1, generally the northwestern side. Term is used interchangeably with "bayside."

KEYS CRUISER
An automobile that you'd not feel safe driving along an Interstate or in the cold, but one which will do you just fine for short jaunts within the Keys, given the 45 mile speed limit and 2 lane maximum of US 1. Most likely, not one which will win any beauty contest either

MAINLAND
All locations north of Jewfish Creek, including that large land mass that begins north of mile marker 113. Encompasses Miami, Washington, D.C., and the rest of the world.

MILE MARKERS ("MM")
The green markers along U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys. They start at MM127 and end at MM0 in front of the Courthouse in Key West. Directions are frequently given like this: "I'm located at MM 25, Oceanside."

OCEANSIDE
The Atlantic Ocean side of U.S. Highway 1, generally the southeastern side. As you are traveling U.S. 1 from Miami to Key West, the left side.

THE ROCK
The Florida Keys. The phrase is usually used by locals when heading to the mainland and beyond for a reality check, shopping or partying: "Gotta' get off the Rock."

THE STRETCH
The 25 mile section of US 1 which connects the Keys to the Mainland in Florida City, and travels through Everglades and hammocks, with no place to stop for gas, or other conveniences.


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