Every year, many thousands of visitors flock to the Florida Keys & Key West — the continental United States’ southernmost island chain — to celebrate life and its milestones. With sunrise on one side of the islands and sunset on the other, the Keys are an ideal place to romance, celebrate and share memorable moments.
Incredible as it may seem, ’tis the season to be jolly — despite Christmas still being weeks away. But in the celebration-loving Florida Keys, mid-November brings the first stirrings of holiday spirit. So there are plenty of festivities coming up, ranging from traditional to offbeat (and all, of course, with a unique island twist).
Viewing a sea turtle release, and seeing the rehabilitated creature return to the Florida Keys waters where it belongs, can make you cry. There’s something about watching a turtle slip into its saltwater habitat and swim joyfully away that touches the heart and inspires a powerful sense of oneness with the natural order.
Sue Cooper, a Florida Keys paddleboard guru and author of “Millionaire in Flip Flips,” is the face of Lazy Dog Adventures — known for its slogan, “We do more in a week than most people do all day.” But don’t be fooled by that slogan; Sue is brimming with business acumen and motivational concepts.
Divers planning a Florida Keys vacation can anticipate days of world-class underwater adventure — exploring a fascinating shipwreck trail that stretches from Key Largo to Key West within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The trail features long-ago wrecks and ships intentionally sunk to create artificial reefs, now home to myriad fish and corals.
Visitors seeking cultural experiences to supplement the Florida Keys’ subtropical “fun and sun” lure will find arts offerings in virtually all genres. Enthusiasts can discover galleries from Key Largo to Key West, festivals that spotlight the island chain’s rich creative heritage, eclectic events that showcase the talents of local residents — and even gyotaku.
When the “real world” seems especially stressful, escape to a place that recharges the body, soothes the soul and inspires reconnection with life’s natural rhythms. The Florida Keys backcountry is that place — a realm of wild beauty and tranquil waters, with one of the most diverse assortments of marine life on the planet.
In the Middle and Lower Keys and Key West, personal renewal, wellness, mindful pursuits, and enriching experiences take center stage to create an unforgettable vacation. Visitors can stroll a historic bridge between seemingly endless sea and sky, taste tropical fruits in a hidden grove, kayak to discover secret mangrove realms, and much more.
Let’s face it: a single visit to the Florida Keys isn’t enough — even to explore just one of the Keys’ five unique districts. So why not plan a return trip? From secluded natural areas to historic sites, foodie favorites to environmental attractions, new discoveries await on every visit to the enticing island chain.
Billy Litmer is the founder of Key West’s Honest Eco tours, specializing in wild bottlenose dolphin-watching and nature charters. Designer and builder of the island’s first lithium-ion battery-powered hybrid charter boat with electric motors, he shares his love for the Keys’ wildlife and environment with guests — inspiring them to cherish both.