The summer season for me was always a time when that long-awaited vacation finally arrived. However, living in a friendly, creative island resort community allows me to enjoy a year-round “vacay” state of mind. With that said, I have to nudge myself back into work mode from time to time.

Key West beach goer

Scores of gay men flock to Key West each year to enjoy August’s Tropical Heat celebration.

After one long August weekend in particular, it takes more of a shove to get me back to down to Planet Earth — as we celebrate Tropical Heat with four days of all-male adult events. The energy and vibe of the island skyrockets, but our perfect summer weather (with highs in the 80s and cooling ocean breezes) remains steady.

Key West rolls out its VIP carpet of blue water and white sand (courtesy of Mother Nature, of course) for the event, which takes place Aug. 16-20. The four days of jam-packed activities include pool parties, sunset sails, snorkel and paddleboarding tours, drag shows and even our very own Gay Key West Trolley Tour of the island spotlighting our LGBT heritage.

And if you get a second wind after a day of revelry, the late-night parties at the Bourbon Street Complex nightclubs and the Island House Resort are hot, hot, hot!

On Wednesday, Aug. 16, the kickoff party begins at 5 p.m. at Island House, a world-famous male-only resort. The clothing-optional island oasis provides 24-hour food and beverage services, pool, Jacuzzis, saunas and even massage services to help guests unwind and let go of any stress from life back on the mainland.

One of my all-time favorite events is the toga party at the Equator Resort, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. The resort provides over-the-top entertainment, food and libations. And the togas worn are not your average store-bought costumes. Community members definitely showcase their creativity and even a bit of naughtiness with their fabulous costumes (some that require very little material).

We are very fortunate to have so many incredible LGBT owned and operated businesses on the island — and many of them have created special events for Tropical Heat participants. The Blu Q and Nomadic SUP will be offering several clothing-optional ocean adventures throughout the long weekend, including snorkel and sandbar tours and paddleboarding in the backcountry (no experience is necessary).

Key West Atlantic Oceanfront dinner

Al fresco dining by the Atlantic Ocean enhances a Tropical Heat getaway — or any visit to Key West. (Photo by Mike Freas, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Tropical Heat concludes Sunday on a high note with several perennial favorites — including DJ Rude Girl and Molly Blue spinning tunes at our famed Tea Dance held at La Te Da at 4 p.m.

For the weekend’s final frolic, which starts at 10 p.m. Sunday night, get out your best black-light clothing and/or body paint and head over to the AfterGlow Party at Saloon One.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during Tropical Heat. Festival VIP access passes are available for $99 per person — or you can pay individual event admissions.

Whether you make it down for Tropical Heat or another time, I hope your next island visit includes plenty of opportunities to have fun, make new friends and experience everything that Key West and the Florida Keys have to offer.

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