The Florida Keys & Key West are putting Earth Day in the spotlight with activities on and around April 22, the globally commemorated “birthday” of the modern environmental movement.

Of course, every day is a reason to celebrate the beauty of the planet in the Keys — a realm full of natural wonders including 10 state parks, Dry Tortugas National Park and parts of Everglades National Park, four federally protected wildlife refuges and the continental United States’ only contiguous coral barrier reef.

Dave Vaughan, Florida Keys coral restoration pioneer

Dr. Dave Vaughan and his Plant a Million Corals organization are partnering with Coastlove for a Lower Keys mangrove-planting event shortly before Earth Day.

Honor Earth Day in the Keys by taking part in one or more of these events.

Experience Bahia Honda State Park’s Earth Day Celebration: Bahia Honda State Park, 36850 Overseas Highway in the Lower Keys, will stage its 27th annual Earth Day celebration Saturday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees can learn about earth-friendly practices from conservation-minded vendors, and also enjoy live music and crafts. Kids can join a scavenger hunt “journey” to visit the festival’s many exhibitors — including the Florida Keys’ Turtle Hospital, Reef Relief and Save-A-Turtle. If you can’t be there for the event itself, check out the Friends of Bahia Honda’s annual Earth Day Online Auction, which raises money to support the park and continues through April 20. Gift certificates to over 80 Keys attractions, hotels, restaurants and more will go to the highest bidders.

Plant Mangroves with Plant a Million Corals and Coastlove: Plant a Million Corals’ headquarters at Summerland Farms, 23801 Overseas Highway in the Lower Keys, is now home to both coral and mangrove nurseries. Coastlove, a leader in mangrove restoration, has joined with Plant a Million Corals, focused on ensuring the survival of reefs around the globe, to create an Earth Day weekend community event at Summerland Farms from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Highlights include tours of the nurseries and the chance to plant baby mangroves along the shoreline — plus educational activities, live music and refreshments. Attendees will learn how the reefs protect inshore seagrass beds and mangroves from strong ocean waves, and how mangroves trap sediment that would otherwise flow out to sea and smother the reefs.

Submerge on an I.CARE Coral Restoration Dive: I.CARE is a nonprofit group dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of the coral reef communities in Islamorada and the Florida Keys. Co-founder Mike Goldberg was named a 2023 CNN Hero for his successful efforts to recruit recreational divers to assist marine scientists in out-planting nursery-raised coral on Islamorada-area reefs. Coral transplant dives are offered every Saturday and the third Sunday of each month — including April 20 and 21 just before Earth Day — with three participating Upper Keys dive shops. Interested divers can join the citizen science effort while exploring Keys reefs, giving back to the underwater world that provides so much pleasure.

sunset kayaking Florida Keys

Big Pine Kayak Adventures’ full moon kayak paddle is set for April 23 — a perfect way to celebrate the planet’s tranquil beauty.

Enjoy a Full Moon Kayak Excursion: Captain Bill Keogh’s Big Pine Kayak Adventures hosts full moon kayak excursions from October through May in the waters surrounding the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key. April’s full moon paddle takes place Tuesday, April 23 — the day after Earth Day. Paddlers on the 6:30-8:30 p.m. excursion can explore the quiet beauty of the mangrove estuary, view the brilliance of the full moon’s light sparkling on the shallow-water flats, and learn about the area’s delicate ecosystem. Cost is a $30 donation that supports the Florida Keys Wildlife Society, the “friends group” for the island chain’s national wildlife refuges.

Visit the Turtle Hospital: Celebrate Earth Day — or any day — by touring Marathon’s Turtle Hospital, 2396 Overseas Highway, to “meet” and learn about sea turtles undergoing rehabilitation from illnesses and injuries. A licensed veterinary hospital dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles, the facility was opened in 1986 with the goal of healing injured turtles and returning them to the wild. Visitors can even symbolically adopt a turtle to help support its care. “Patients” are released back to their ocean home when they’re fully rehabilitated. Check here for details on releases around Earth Day and in the coming weeks.

While Earth Day is particularly meaningful in the eco-conscious Florida Keys, it’s possible to discover, explore and support the island chain’s natural world throughout the year. Just click here for more information.