In a previous Keys Voices blog, we chronicled places and activities in the Upper Keys that are ideal for renewing the spirit and revitalizing the body. Now it’s time to explore opportunities in the Middle and Lower Keys, including Key West, where personal renewal, wellness and mindful pursuits, and enriching experiences take center stage to help create an unforgettable vacation.

Key Deer Florida Keys

Seen often along roadsides in Big Pine Key at dawn and dusk, tiny Key deer are protected within the Lower Florida Keys’ National Key Deer Refuge. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

The Middle Keys and Marathon mean spas and sea strolls.

De-stress at a resort spa. On Duck Key in the Middle Keys, Hawks Cay Resort offers the 7,000-square-foot Calm Waters Spa with Elemis products, eight treatment rooms and a tropical rain room with Vichy shower. The spa also has a fitness room with group exercise classes, candlelit whirlpool, relaxation and eucalyptus steam rooms and a dry sauna. In Marathon Isla Bella Beach Resort, near the famed Seven Mile Bridge, has a 4,000-square-foot full-service spa with five treatment rooms. Signature treatments include the Earth to Heaven Massage, a hot oil scalp massage and spa facial.

Stroll into serenity on the Old Seven Mile Bridge. Just past Marathon, revel in the beauty of sunrises and sunsets and view marine life while strolling along a section of the famed Old Seven Mile Bridge over amazingly blue water. Nicknamed “Old Seven,” the oft-photographed 2.2-mile bridge span is sometimes called a linear park — the perfect spot for a leisurely walk with endless vistas of sea and sky. Paralleling the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, the old bridge also serves as the gateway to historic Pigeon Key, a tiny island where visitors can seemingly step back in time.

Big Pine and the Lower Keys invite enriching immersion in the natural world.

Engage in a garden exploration and try exotic fruits. On Big Pine Key, the 2-acre fruit farm Grimal Grove — billed as the first and only breadfruit grove in the continental United States — offers 90-minute guided tropical fruit excursions showcasing species of subtropical and tropical fruits, trees and plants. Sample sweet and sour exotic fruits (including breadfruit) and learn the story of 1950s-era hermit Adolf Grimal, a recluse who designed Old Grimal Estate at 258 Cunningham Lane.

Captain Bill Keogh leads kayak eco-tours of the Lower Keys’ backcountry, encouraging clients to open their eyes and minds to nature’s wonders.

Wander through the National Key Deer Refuge. The refuge was established in 1957 to protect and preserve habitats for wildlife — and it’s a great place to explore the Lower Keys’ unique natural world. View native wildlife including the tiny, shy and breathtakingly graceful Key deer in areas around the Blue Hole and Watson and Mannillo Nature Trails — while discovering mangrove forests, freshwater and salt marsh wetlands, pine rockland forests and tropical hardwood hammocks.

Connect with nature during a backcountry kayaking experience. Off Sugarloaf Key, Get Up and Go Florida Keys offers kayaking charters alongside mangroves and through scenic waterways in 100% see-through kayaks that provide guests the opportunity to explore the unique environment around them. Specializing in the Florida Keys backcountry, Big Pine Kayak Adventures guides lead nature-focused kayaking, shallow-water skiff, sailing catamaran and shallow-water fishing tours.

Improve balance, gain core strength, and meditate amid the Keys’ natural world during a healthful paddleboard yoga session. Lazy Dog Adventures at Stock Island’s Hurricane Hole Marina combines gentle meditation and yoga with a guided paddle on a stand-up paddleboard for a 2-hour experience that promotes well-being.

Feed body, mind and spirit in Key West.

Key West Theater

Rams Head’s concerts at Key West Theater, featuring top-ranked musicians, provide a great opportunity for immersion in relaxing rhythms. (Photo courtesy of Key West Theater)

Eat a healthy, satisfying meal at one of Key West’s organic cafes. Located in the heart of Key West, Date & Thyme, a vegan and gluten-free friendly organic café and market, offers fresh food in a vibrant oasis. Breakfast, lunch, juices and smoothies are served in the café, and the market features a blend of unique products and daily essentials including produce, groceries, supplements and body care items. Green Pineapple Wellness Café on Duval Street provides diners a space to take a breath and connect with themselves and their food. The café menu includes plant-based, gluten-free, organic and whole foods.

Lighten your mood with live musical performances. The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St., and Rams Head Presents Key West offer multiple year-round opportunities to let loose and enjoy live music. Those looking to indulge in musical therapy can also find regular jazz, blues, rock and other genres of live music at local watering holes that feature solo artists, duos and bands for some good island vibes.

Of course, these are only a few opportunities for renewal and personal renaissance in the Florida Keys; offerings that promote wellness and revitalization can be found throughout the transformational island chain. But don’t just read about them … start planning a trip to experience them for yourself!