Tastes and flavors of the Florida Keys are embedded deeply in the memories of visitors far and wide, so why not surprise family members and good friends this season with delicious gifts of edible or sippable Keys creations? Gifts of food from the island chain are sure to delight even the pickiest recipients.
Renowned photojournalist Stephen Frink, quite possibly the planet’s most prolific published underwater photographer, makes his home in Key Largo — a place he values for its incredible marine life population, offshore reef and legacy marine conservation restrictions. He’s passionate about using his stunning underwater images to inspire people to appreciate the coral reef.
Six state parks in the Upper Florida Keys offer some of the Keys’ most scenic wide-open spaces for social distancing, solitude and outdoor recreational activities like hiking, swimming, snorkeling and paddling. Acclaimed among the region's prime natural attractions, these parks are rich with Florida Keys history, upland and coastal landscapes and underwater life.
As curator and historian at Islamorada’s Keys History & Discovery Center, Brad Bertelli is a storyteller who spins colorful tales with rich factual details about life in the Florida Keys. He has also authored several books — including two about snorkeling in Florida and the Keys, and one each about Key Largo and Islamorada.
In his previous life, Mike Goldberg was a Bear Stearns money manager. But things change, and a year ago, he and marine biologist Kylie Smith, a Florida Wildlife Commission scientist, spearheaded the founding of I.CARE — the Keys’ only Islamorada-based reef restoration organization — partnering with Mote Marine Laboratory and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
Islamorada artist Jessica Ann Cecil has a unique flair for painting marine life — and she’s passionate about using her art to connect patrons, clients and students with Florida Keys marine ecosystem conservation efforts. She often earmarks a percentage of art sales for Keys nonprofits including the Coral Restoration Foundation, Dolphins Plus and Save-A-Turtle.
Bob Dylan loves Key West. In fact, the legendary singer-songwriter immortalizes it as “the enchanted land” and “land of light” in “Key West (Philosopher Pirate),” a ballad on his new album “Rough and Rowdy Ways.” And a bar stool with his name on it can still be found at Capt. Tony’s Saloon.
Kristie Killam’s love of nature is an underlying theme in her life and career. As park ranger for the Florida Keys’ four national wildlife refuges, Kristie oversees the refuges’ Nature Center, opened last fall, and the nonprofit Florida Keys Wildlife Society “friends” group of volunteers and partners. She’s also a skilled nature photographer.
Rachel Bowman, the Florida Keys’ only female commercial lionfish harvester, is passionate about protecting native species by controlling the population of invasive lionfish. A licensed boat captain, she moved to the Keys nearly two decades ago. Now she captures thousands of pounds of lionfish annually, contributing significantly to the “conservation through consumption” movement.
Lisa Mongelia, the executive director of Islamorada’s History of Diving Museum, is a passionate diver. A member of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s advisory council, she’s extremely active in protecting the oceans to benefit future generations. Her goals for the museum include increasing educational outreach and, through diving, leading Keys environmental initiatives.