Key Largo, the northernmost island in the Florida Keys, stretches from mile marker 107 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway to mile marker 91. It’s called the Dive Capital of the World — and it first became famous when the 1948 movie "Key Largo," featuring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, hit the silver screen.
To reconnect with the natural world of the Florida Keys, immerse yourself in the island chain’s many open-air areas where seclusion is intrinsic. Wander along sandy beaches, discover nature trails through hammocks and rainforest areas, or explore the clear blue waters surrounding the Keys. Or find natural gems during a hike or bicycle ride.
These days, people are hungry to reconnect with the individuals and activities that matter most to them. And the Florida Keys are uniquely positioned to satisfy that desire. The Keys’ vast open spaces offer seemingly endless opportunities to rediscover the natural world after coronavirus confinement, and share unforgettable experiences with friends and family.
In May, Elena Muratori celebrates 25 years with the Florida Park Service. With two decades of working at John Pennekamp Coral Reef and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical state parks, she’s one of the longest-serving stewards at any Florida Keys state park. And she’s deeply dedicated to restoring and preserving natural resources.
In keeping with the global “Restore Our Earth” theme for April’s Earth Day 2021, it’s easy to participate in meaningful, memorable activities in the Florida Keys such as diving, snorkeling and even Snuba, a hybrid of the two. But whatever the underwater activity, it’s important to practice the principles of coral reef etiquette.
Rob Oliverio traded life as a road warrior — a corporate manager launching House of Blues openings in Boston, New Orleans and Los Angeles — for life as an eco-entrepreneur and owner of Key West’s Mellow Ventures. Today he’s focused on helping visitors learn to appreciate, respect and protect the beauty of the Keys.
For Christina Wilson, hosting “Island Hopping: Florida Keys" enabled her to dive into unique Florida Keys adventures — and share them with viewers of the syndicated television special that recently began airing across the United States. The show explores the Keys’ natural environment and ecotourism opportunities, abundant water-based activities, easygoing lifestyle and signature cuisine.
Kelly Grinter estimates she’s rescued and released more than 20,000 injured birds since she founded the Marathon Wild Bird Center in 1995. The sanctuary at Marathon’s Crane Point Hammock Museum and Nature Center has 11 habitats and about 40 permanent residents — and Kelly is inspired by each bird admitted into the facility’s care.
Florida Keys artist Dan Davis, owner of the online Florida Keys Ocean Gallery, uses the ancient Japanese art of gyotaku to create prints from fish he catches in Keys waters. He also educates art lovers about the need to preserve local waters that are home to a vast array of prized game fish.
No one can deny that 2020, and its holiday season, are different than any other year in memory. Whether grief and loss, economic fears or the stress of isolation, almost everyone is feeling the effects of the world’s coronavirus pandemic. Yet even so, it’s possible to find occasional bright spots that bring hope.