A bride and groom pledge their love against a glorious Key West sunset. (Photo by Karrie Porter Photography)
- By: Briana Ciraulo
- March 18, 2015
Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the Florida Keys & Key West — the continental United States’ southernmost island chain — to celebrate life and its milestones. And with sunrise on one side of the islands and sunset on the other, the Florida Keys are an ideal place to romance, celebrate and rejuvenate.
For example, couples looking to say “I Do” or escape for a romantic getaway can visit the Keys for an experience that blends relaxation and a touch of adventure. There’s no shortage of ways to make a destination wedding unique in the atmospheric island chain.
At the north end of the Keys in Key Largo, certified divers can take the plunge and stage an underwater wedding (really!) — exchanging vows beside sea turtles, stingrays and the Christ of the Deep statue.
History buffs can find intriguing locales for wedding ceremonies in Key West. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Harry S. Truman Little White House and Audubon House & Tropical Gardens provide truly lovely settings for couples who want to incorporate elements of America’s past into their future together.
And animal lovers can get married with some of their favorite wildlife in attendance — from playful dolphins at Marathon’s Dolphin Research Center to hundreds of butterflies at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
The Keys also offer an appealing atmosphere for LGBT couples. As might be expected in one of the country’s top-rated destinations for gay and lesbian travelers, for years commitment ceremonies were performed in Key West by clergy and notaries. And since Jan. 6, 2015, same-sex couples have been able to marry legally in the island’s many welcoming venues.
With a subtropical climate and lush landscape, surrounded by gorgeous turquoise waters, the Keys are the ideal location to rejuvenate and relax. Couples can even find their Zen with Serenity Eco-Therapy, a progressive paddleboard program incorporating meditation, yoga and cardio in the tranquil waters of the Lower Keys.
And those seeking to pamper themselves in style can enjoy relaxing oceanside massages while listening to the lazily lapping waves of the Atlantic.
But the Keys are more than a prime spot for couples’ getaways. The island chain offers so many diverse activities that it’s a rocking location for group vacations — whether bachelor and bachelorette parties, destination weddings, birthday trips, family reunions or a much-needed break with friends.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than heart-pumping adventure to guarantee an unforgettable escape for groups. Surrounded by the third largest living coral barrier reef in the world, the Keys provide exhilarating underwater exploration for snorkelers and divers from beginners to experts — with seemingly endless marine life and reef tracts to investigate.
Groups also can charter a fishing boat and savor the thrill of offshore angling in Islamorada (known for good reason as the sport-fishing capital of the world), with an expert captain at the helm.
But the adventures don’t stop there. Visitors can strap on a water-powered jetpack and fly with Tiki Jet in Islamorada, or kiteboard on a two-point cable system over Keys Cable’s manmade 7-acre lake in Marathon.
And in the southernmost city of Key West, barhopping isn’t the only nightlife to experience. On Ibis Bay Resort’s nighttime paddleboarding excursion, groups can discover underwater marine life after dark with unique LED-lighted paddleboards.
In fact, no matter what the occasion, the Florida Keys & Key West are the perfect destination for celebrating life and making memories that last a lifetime. And who doesn’t deserve to do both?