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‘Local’s Choice’ Tips from Lisa Mongelia

Lisa Mongelia has been the executive director of Islamorada’s one-of-a-kind History of Diving Museum since 2014. A diver for more than 40 years, she’s deeply passionate about the Florida Keys’ underwater world and its protection.

Born in Missouri and raised primarily in Tampa, Florida, Mongelia first saw the Florida Keys as a teenager on a dive trip with family and friends. She remains entranced by the island chain’s diving and cultural communities. 

Energetic and upbeat, Mongelia has been a scuba teacher, law office manager, freelance dive writer and a member of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s advisory council. Through her work at the museum, she enjoys sharing information about the development of modern diving and the Keys’ intriguing dive heritage.

The mother of two grown sons, Lisa gives back by leading ocean and beach cleanup efforts, capturing and removing invasive lionfish from Keys waters — and dining on their light white meat that’s known as a regional delicacy.

Her motto: Midwest girl living in a subtropical paradise.

Where she dines: So many choices, so little time! In Islamorada, generally ... Breakfast: Midway Café, Lunch: Bayside Gourmet, Dinner: Lazy Days or Island Grill — or Whistle Stop late at night when other kitchens are closed. For fun: Drive down to Castaway in Marathon for lionfish.

Where she explores: Diving anywhere from Key Largo to Key West. Throw in some kayaking and checking out the various state parks.

How she relaxes: Treasuring the moments. Sipping morning coffee, watching the sunrise by the ocean and listening to the morning birds. Then heading out for a dip below the water to enjoy the reef and see the marine life go about their day — while keeping an eye out for any lionfish that need to be removed and prepared for dinner. 

Lisa Mongolia, a diver for more than 40 years, treasures her time below the water to enjoy the reef and see marine life go about their day.  Photo: Jenny Hall

Lisa Mongolia, a diver for more than 40 years, treasures her time below the water to enjoy the reef and see marine life go about their day. Photo: Jenny Hall

The mother of two grown sons, Lisa gives back by leading ocean and beach cleanup efforts and capturing and removing invasive lionfish from Keys waters.

The mother of two grown sons, Lisa gives back by leading ocean and beach cleanup efforts and capturing and removing invasive lionfish from Keys waters.

This article was updated on March 16, 2023 at 11:06 AM
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