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. 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 share memorable moments.
Kimberly Triolet (left) and Jorge Rodriguez kiss after being married next to the Christ of the Deep statue off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo by Bob Care, Florida Keys News Bureau)
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, colorful fish and the legendary Christ of the Deep statue.
History buffs can find intriguing locales for wedding ceremonies particularly in Key West. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Oldest House Museum and Garden, 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.
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 paddleboard yoga in tranquil shallow-water areas, using the board as a mat for a session that realigns body and mind in an open-air saltwater “studio.”
The Florida Keys are a great place for families to reconnect with each other and the natural world. Here, kids share an unforgettable afternoon on an offshore sandbar. (Photo by Kari Vita, Florida Keys Photo Adventure)
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 much more than a prime spot for couples. The island chain offers so many diverse activities that it’s a wonderful location for group vacations and celebrations — whether holiday getaways, birthday trips, family reunions or a much-needed break with friends.
There’s nothing better than heart-pumping adventure to guarantee an unforgettable experience for groups. For example, the Keys provide exhilarating underwater exploration for snorkelers and divers from beginners to experts — with seemingly endless marine life and reef tracts to investigate.
Small groups also can charter a fishing boat and savor the thrill of angling in Islamorada (known for good reason as the sport-fishing capital of the world), guided by one of the region’s expert captains.
Anglers who target food fish (maybe yellowtail snapper, tuna or dolphin fish, also called mahi-mahi) can bring the bounty to a Keys restaurant that “cooks the catch.” It’s a rare treat to savor perfectly prepared fresh-off-the-boat fish, sharing it with people who matter, to cap a satisfying day on the water.
When visiting Islamorada, many families stop for a photo op with “Betsy,” a huge lobster sculpture outside the Rain Barrel Village. (Photo by Lori, Florida Keys Photo Adventure)
But the enjoyment doesn’t stop there.
Families and friends can explore unique aquariums; lush botanical gardens; facilities that nurture sea turtles, dolphins and wild native birds; or a wildlife refuge that protects tiny indigenous Key deer.
And very few activities can beat the simple joy of kayaking together through the peaceful Lower Keys backcountry — or taking an eco-tour to spot dolphins in the wild.
To top it all off, visitors might tour the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery in Key West or the Florida Keys Brewing Co. in Islamorada — both ideal locales for toasting a special event with locally crafted libations.
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. Who doesn’t deserve to do both?