“The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise," a 60-minute television program that explores the culture and history of the island chain from the early 1800s to the present, debuts this spring on PBS channels across the United States. Meanwhile, three special events in Key West showcase aspects of the Keys’ two-century cultural heritage.
Ever since the Florida Keys were settled two centuries ago, the island chain has been known for its residents’ adventurous seafaring spirit. Today, that spirit remains among the Keys’ most appealing attributes. And contemporary visitors can find it in museums and attractions, tales of sunken treasure and dive trips to famed shipwreck sites.
Captain Matthew “Matt” Bellinger grew up in Sandy Springs, Georgia, studied marine science at the University of Tampa and traveled as a divemaster after college. Today, his company, Bamboo Charters, specializes in family fishing trips — while educating, informing and inspiring clients to learn and care about the Florida Keys’ unique marine environment.
Sunny subtropical holidays in the Florida Keys & Key West are filled with warmth and good cheer throughout the 125-mile-long island chain. From Key Largo to Key West, the 2022 holiday season features spirited events such as lighted boat parades, historic inn tours, only-in-the Keys frivolity, sparkling waterfront celebrations and other island festivities.
From Key Largo to Key West, the calendar is packed with events designed to spread seasonal cheer — including a traditional Islamorada favorite that features actual snow. Yes, despite the Keys’ typically balmy winter temperatures, grownups and kids of all ages can delight in snow Friday, Dec. 2, during Islamorada’s Florida Keys Holiday Fest.
Florida Keys residents, and others who love the island chain, are guided by a code of conduct designed to protect the region’s amazing natural environment. Its core is the 10 Keymandments — a lighthearted yet informative set of recommendations for enjoying meaningful, memorable experiences while respecting and helping to preserve the Keys’ treasured eco-realm.
Most people who care about the Florida Keys probably know that the island chain felt some impacts from Hurricane Ian’s tropical storm-force winds and storm surge when Ian passed well to the west of Key West. So this week, Keys Voices breaks from its usual format to provide readers a post-Ian update.
Marine artist Lisa Lee Herman, owner of Gallery of the Arts Islamorada, is known throughout the Upper Keys for her gyotaku — the ancient Japanese art form for traditionally recording a catch. In fact, Herman greets her gyotaku-seeking clients, and the prized fish they want to preserve, at the dock following their angling excursions.
For foodies seeking authentic Keys-style dining experiences, Upper Keys food trucks present creatively prepared fare that provides a quick and fun alternative to boring fast-food joints. Operated by hands-on local residents, the venues serve personalized, freshly made specialty dishes. The colorful trucks offer a convenient, inexpensive way for visitors to sample Keys-crafted cuisine.
Erin Muir, a sixth-generation Upper Keys native, is descended from two founding Florida Keys families — the Albury and Lowe families that settled in the Keys in the 1860s — whose roots run as deep as those of the island chain’s shoreline mangroves. Now, Erin is Mote Marine Laboratory’s newly named Upper Keys engagement manager.