• Kayaking is a great open-air activity for reconnecting with friends or family, and spending time in the Keys' many secluded natural spots -- like the sandy flats between uninhabited islands some 5 miles off Sugarloaf Key in the pristine Lower Keys. (Photo by Rob O'Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

     

  • By: Carol Shaughnessy
  • April 28, 2021

For decades the Florida Keys island chain has been famed as a realm of natural beauty, open spaces and infinite horizons. A relaxing, rejuvenating escape from the pressures of everyday life. A place that values sustainability and the preservation of environmental wonders. An enticingly exotic locale, despite being located at the southernmost tip of the continental United States.

The Keys’ ocean environment and unique activities provide a great atmosphere for memorable experiences that deepen family bonds. (Photo by Niki Jensen, Florida Keys Photo Adventure)

These days, after more than a year of the global coronavirus pandemic — with vaccines increasingly available and travel concerns easing — people are hungry to reconnect with the individuals and activities that matter most to them. And the Florida Keys are uniquely positioned to satisfy that desire.

Stretching 125 miles out into blue-green water, the Keys are a string of small, vibrant island communities linked by the breathtaking Overseas Highway, Florida’s only federally designated All-American Road.

Along the subtropical island chain, visitors can find vast open-air natural areas of land and sea, offerings that support wellness and personal enrichment, and opportunities for connection and reconnection with valued people, places and pastimes.

The Keys encompass four national wildlife refuges — including a Lower Keys preserve created to protect tiny, shy Key deer — as well as 10 state parks, two national parks and the protected waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that surround the entire island chain.

Those open spaces offer seemingly endless opportunities to reconnect with the natural world after coronavirus confinement, discover the renewal that comes from “unplugged” time spent immersed in nature and share unforgettable experiences with friends and family.

In the Keys you can strengthen bonds with family members while kayaking through the tranquil Lower Keys backcountry, observing the graceful sway and dance of sea birds and tropical fish, or sharing the magic of a dolphin-watch excursion. Reconnect with friends as you discover the rejuvenating rhythm and flow of paddleboard yoga or dive into the blue depths to encounter colorful marine life.

Reconnect with special people by sharing a sunset experience over the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Reawaken your creativity during intimate classes led by Keys artists and artisans, or reconnect with your spouse or significant other on a slow, romantic sunset sail followed by a water’s-edge seafood dinner under the stars.

Make a lasting difference during your vacation with a “voluntourism” adventure, helping to preserve the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef — an environmental treasure that parallels the Keys.

And because the island chain offers some of the best saltwater fishing in the world, there’s nothing like heading out with a buddy or two and a Keys charter captain for an interval of open water, clean salt air and a heart-pounding test of will and skill.

In fact, the Keys’ easygoing vibe and rich variety of experiences mean you can make your visit an opportunity to reconnect with whatever and whoever matters most to you.

Today, while coming to terms with a world significantly changed by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to do just that — and to reconnect with the activities and adventures that make your senses tingle and your smile spread from ear to ear.

Because in those rare and magical moments of joy, you reconnect with the person you really want to be.

Want a chance to win a Keys vacation to reconnect with some special people in your life? Visit the island chain’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages starting May 11 to find out how!

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