Known for creative, colorful, sometimes quirky artwork and a rich diversity of handcrafted artisan wares, the Florida Keys are internationally recognized for artistry inspired by stunning seascapes, landscapes and a light-drenched subtropical color palette. This season, the Keys feature fresh-air strolls that explore the matchless talent and fascinating work of skilled local artists.
The Florida Keys offer scores of earth- and sea-friendly options for visitors to enjoy, guided by residents who cherish their close-to-nature lifestyle and strive to preserve it. They include sustainable fishing and dive charter operators, coral restoration innovators, trailblazers in “voluntourism,” wildlife rehabilitation experts and leaders of eco-tours and cultural excursions.
Ken Nedimyer, an Upper Keys–based director of Reef Renewal Foundation International, is globally recognized as a father of reef restoration, creating strategies to rebuild coral reefs around the world. He oversees three coral nurseries in the Keys — off Tavernier, Big Pine Key and Marathon — that house 21 coral species with 1,000 genotypes.
Santa does things a little differently in the holiday-loving Florida Keys -- and he even brings some Keys warmth and cheer to people who can't spend the season in the subtropical island chain. Unless you're on the naughty list, you might just get a visit from jolly old Santa Keys this year!
This December, don’t let self-imposed “must-do” holiday tasks jingle your bells till you’re jingled out. Instead, take a Florida Keys approach. During this holiday season, adopt the Keys’ traditional laid-back attitude, refusal to take life too seriously and awareness that the very best “gift” is sharing laughter and closeness with friends and family.
The Florida Keys & Key West are known around the globe for their unmatched natural beauty, laid-back atmosphere and year-round warmth. But they also offer environmental, cultural and adventure activities that can’t be enjoyed anywhere EXCEPT in the island chain. Make lasting vacation memories by undertaking 10 extraordinary “only in the Keys” experiences.
The largest shipwreck available for sport diving in the Lower Keys remains a popular stop on the Florida Keys Wreck Trek for divers, and a relatively easy introduction to wreck diving for novices. The 210-foot-long Adolphus Busch, sunk intentionally in 1998, lies between Looe Key and American Shoal, southwest of Big Pine Key.
Each year bicyclists navigate the entire Florida Keys island chain, along scenic Overseas Highway and Heritage Trail routes, during the 165-mile Miami to Key West trek known as the SMART Ride. Now in its 18th year, the event has raised an astounding $12.5 million for AIDS service organizations in Florida and the Keys.
Harry Appel co-owns Big Pine Key’s eco-friendly, boutique Deer Run on the Atlantic, the Florida Keys’ only “Four-Palm” Green Lodging Property — a designation earned for a steadfast commitment to protecting natural resources. An avid animal activist, he’s president of the nonprofit Save-A-Turtle of the Florida Keys and is a Key Deer Protection Alliance advisor.
Florida Keys restaurants range from gourmet hotspots to dockside seafood “shacks” and trendy food trucks where guests can choose from a variety of fish, seafood and other options. Many eateries along the historic Florida Keys Overseas Highway provide tasty temptations — but if diners venture into less-explored areas, the culinary possibilities become virtually endless.