If you’re craving the Florida Keys during this time of widespread COVID-19 travel restrictions, there’s a remedy for that: recreate your favorite Keys memory while staying safe at home, capture it in a mini-video, and submit the video to the island chain’s new Instagram contest.

Florida Keys snorkeler

Passionate about snorkeling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary? Find a creative way to suggest the snorkeling experience in a short at-home video, and submit it to the Keys’ Instagram challenge.  (Photo by Amy Higgs)

Hashtagged #FLKeysAtHomeChallenge, the quirky competition debuted May 11 and continues through May 25. And if you’re the lucky winner, you’ll receive a trip to the Keys to be enjoyed after travel bans are lifted.

How does it work?

First, decide what activity you love most in the Keys — or, if you’ve never visited, choose the one you’d most like to try. Then recreate that activity in the seclusion of your home or yard, and produce a video (up to one minute long) of yourself enjoying it.

For example, if you’re a fan of Keys fishing, consider making a mini-video of an angling adventure in a backyard kiddie pool. Alternately, you might prep a frozen drink on camera, go snorkeling in your hot tub, savor a colorful sunset or even attempt some indoor paddleboarding.

To enter your video in the challenge, just upload it to your personal Instagram feed. Make sure to identify it by the hashtag and mention @thefloridakeys.

The process is simple. But if you need pointers, check out the contest information posted across the Keys’ social media channels. (BTW, entrants must be age 21 or older and legal residents of the U.S.)

After the entry period ends and the submissions are reviewed, a winner will be chosen at random — and awarded the prize of a four-night vacation in the Keys, guaranteed to delight anyone craving a subtropical escape.

The COVID-19 crisis has temporarily closed the island chain to visitors, so the winner’s trip will be scheduled after officials determine that the Keys can begin welcoming travelers again.

Flamingo encounter Key West

Learn what it means to “flamingle” with Rhett and Scarlett during a FloridaKeysTV YouTube segment shot at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Elements of the getaway include complimentary accommodations, special meals, and gift cards toward airfare and car rental — plus a great opportunity to enjoy the laid-back vibe, natural beauty and eco-friendly charm that make the Keys so genuinely appealing.

The video challenge is part of the Keys tourism council’s “Safer@Home” program, launched in mid-April to promote “stay-at-home” directives to combat the novel coronavirus.

That program too is a wonderful way to get a “Keys fix” while safely sheltering at home — because it features live-stream content of local people and places on the island chain’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter outlets. Tune in for nature-based and underwater explorations, visits to wildlife rehabilitation centers to “meet” the inhabitants, mini-concerts by Keys musicians, virtual dolphin encounters, cooking demos from top local chefs, armchair adventures and much more.

And if you’d rather “visit” the Keys on YouTube, you’re in luck — simply subscribe to YouTube’s FloridaKeysTV channel. Segments showcase all regions of the island chain and attractions ranging from eco-tourism activities to cuisine, festivals, water sports and the flourishing creative community.

You can discover video briefs on how to blow a conch shell or create special seafood dishes, check out a music fest that takes place underwater (really!), explore Key West’s rich literary history on a virtual walking tour, learn about the incredible environmental success story at the Lower Keys’ National Key Deer Refuge, or even find out what it means to “flamingle.”

Of course, the best way to visit the Keys is in person, so you can experience the islands’ allure for yourself. But until that’s an option again, stay in touch from home via social media and YouTube — and don’t forget to enter the video challenge!