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.
The community of Marathon boasts a warm family-friendly flair and a variety of cozy inns, waterfront resorts, marinas and casual dining emporiums. The Middle Keys area also features plentiful creative spaces, natural attractions, scenic parks, trails, sightseeing spots and historic sites that make for an appealing blend of heritage, culture and nature.
On May 18, 1991, Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the Florida Keys on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Thirty-one years later, as the world mourns the gracious British monarch’s death, it seems only fitting to recall that day — and Her Majesty’s encounter with the unofficial queen of the island chain, Wilhelmina Harvey.
In the Florida Keys, fresh fish and seafood are menu staples at most popular restaurants. It’s easy to find just-caught snapper, grouper and mahi-mahi served grilled, blackened or fried. In addition, many chefs and restaurateurs in the island chain enjoy showcasing “only in the Keys” dishes, unusual species or innovative preparation techniques.
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.
Shipwreck fans, treasure seekers, history buffs and those who enjoy real-life adventure tales should be in Key West Sept. 2-6. Why? To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sinking of the Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha — with members of Mel Fisher’s family and “golden crew” who discovered the wreck in 1985.
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.
For several thousand women, Key West is the place to be in early September. It’s the place to enjoy adventures in Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters, entertainment and parties with like-minded people, and relaxation on an accepting subtropical island — all during the island city’s annual Womenfest celebration set for Sept. 7-11.
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.
There’s a new “Papa” Hemingway on the island where legendary author Ernest Hemingway lived for most of the 1930s. White-bearded Floridian Jon Auvil won the 2022 Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, the highlight of Key West's annual Hemingway Days. And Nick Henke of St. Louis earned top honors in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition.