Fall has arrived, and if you’re like me, that means it’s pumpkin spice latte time (yum). It’s also a great time to make your fall travel plans and ease yourself into the impending darker, colder days of winter.
Fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoor world of the Florida Keys — like the beach at Bahia Honda State Park. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)
Who says the fall season should be dull and gloomy when you can plan an adrenaline-packed vacation in the sunny Florida Keys and enjoy our balmy temps and delightful ocean breezes?
Most of my bucket-list adventures center around warm-weather activities (surprise, surprise!), except for trekking on a New Zealand glacier (box checked).
Here are some bucket-list activities that are sure to brighten up your fall season.
Take a dive into the clear blue waters of the Florida Keys. Our 125-mile island chain is home to the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. This reef runs the length of the Keys, about five miles offshore, and offers the scuba-diving experience of a lifetime.
More than 30 years ago, the U.S. government established the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to protect our marine habitat including the reef.
Divers finish securing a rainbow flag to the Vandenberg shipwreck. The banner also bears the Florida Keys’ Conch Republic insignia and was installed for a past Pride celebration. (Photo by Joe Berg, Florida Keys News Bureau)
In Keys waters, you’ll find coral-encrusted shipwrecks and intricate natural coral formations. Coral formations are known for their abundance of fish and sea creatures, from impressive schools of blue-striped grunts to toothy green moray eels. We have shallow reefs for snorkelers and a range of deeper reefs for experienced divers.
Many dive sites are just a short boat ride offshore, with dozens of highly professional dive operators ready to assist.
After your first dive in the Keys, you’ll see why some of the most renowned dive photographers in the world make this their home base.
FYI, if you’re seeking entry-level dive certification, please allow three to five days for training. Also called open-water certification, it requires classroom work and pool training elements, followed by one or more open-water dives at the reef.
Take a giant leap with an exhilarating aerial adventure. What bucket list would be complete without skydiving above the gorgeous Florida Keys? Skydive Key West, located on Sugarloaf Key, offers a tandem skydiving experience for anyone 18 years old or above.
Skydivers can view unforgettable vistas of the Lower Florida Keys and surrounding waters during their tandem experience. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)
The entire experience is about an hour long, with a short orientation class about 30 minutes before flight time. You’ll be outfitted with specially designed tandem skydiving equipment for you and your instructor (a.k.a. security blanket).
This unforgettable adventure is perfect for adrenaline junkies and will have you free-falling at speeds of 120 mph or more. Then your parachute opens and your voyage slowly comes to an end after you take in the stunning views below.
And BTW, Skydive Key West has an impeccable safety record. The company uses state-of-the-art equipment and only employs certified U.S. Parachute Association instructors with many years of experience and thousands of skydives under their belts.
Get in touch with your “inner angler” on an EPIC fishing trip. One of the Keys’ most popular action-packed adventures is fishing. Whether you prefer deep-sea fishing or the shallows of our reefs and backcountry, we’ve got you covered.
Our highly skilled offshore captains are eager to show you the Florida Straits, a 90-mile-wide trough of deep water beyond our reef. Many Key West charter guides specialize in catching snappers and groupers that inhabit area shipwrecks, reefs, inshore channels and uninhabited mangrove islands of the backcountry.
Acclaimed as among the top saltwater sportfishing destinations on the planet, the Keys offer sensational angling opportunities throughout the year.
You can fish with family, friends, or solo if that’s your style on private half-day or full-day charters. If you’re seeking “food fish,” your catch could run the gamut from delicious yellowtail snapper or dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) to grouper, kingfish, tuna, cobia or wahoo.
I recommend ending your perfect day at sea with a delectable meal. Some chefs at area restaurants will take fillets, skillfully carved by captains and mates, and prepare them for you in several different styles.
If you’re traveling with a large group, many fishing “party boats” dot the Keys. The vessels take 20 to 45 people fishing and generally supply tackle, bait, and lots of know-how — so anglers of all ages and experience levels can participate.
The Keys offer many other extraordinary adventures that might be just perfect for your personal bucket list. To discover more experiences and attractions, click here.
Click here to subscribe to the Florida Keys & Key West’s LGBTQ travel blog.