Sustainability Initiatives, Enhanced Accommodations Among What’s New for Summer in the Florida Keys & Key West

FLORIDA KEYS — The Florida Keys & Key West, showcasing sustainability offerings, are welcoming visitors this summer with an expanded eco-experience trail and roster of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Blue Star fishing and diving operators. Meanwhile, an all-new ocean exploration center in Key Largo and a new wildlife rescue and rehabilitation avian clinic in Key West are under construction.

Several resort properties in the Keys have been enhanced and rebranded, with changes including the full renovations of two hotels established during the 1920s and of a gay men’s resort in Key West. An expansive new contemporary resort in Islamorada is to open this fall. 

Here’s what’s new in the Keys:

Keys Airlift

Key West International Airport (EYW) experienced a 20% increase in airline seat capacity and tallied more than 450,000 passengers during the first quarter of 2024. A 49,000-square-foot Concourse A expansion, with overall project completion targeted by spring 2026, is to include eight glass jet bridges, state-of-the-art baggage carousels, extended TSA lines, additional restrooms and is designed to withstand 200 mph winds and storm surge while addressing long-term passenger needs. New venues are to include a First Call Beach Bar at baggage claim, Chili's restaurant and Farm 2 Air Market. At EYW, Signature Aviation recently unveiled a new private 4,500-square-foot terminal with covered parking facilities, second-story patio with panoramic views, a pilot's lounge, café and work areas. Six carriers — Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, United and Silver — serve EYW with 21 destinations and more than 20 nonstop flights. Visit or call 305-809-5200.

In the Middle Keys at Marathon International Airport, a Million Air fixed-base operations facility is tentatively slated to open in late 2025. Facilities are to include a full-service indoor-outdoor restaurant and parklike green roof, open to both passengers and the Marathon community. Million Air offers a staffed beverage cart on arrival for passengers. The operation includes 16 acres of ramp space and a 5,008-foot-long runway. Million Air acquired the former Marathon Jet Center at the Middle Keys airport in January 2022 as the aviation company’s fourth fixed-base operation in Florida. Visit or call 305-743-1995.

Keys Accommodations

At Everglades National Park, an all-new 75-seat stand-alone restaurant is open at the 24-unit Flamingo Lodge and Restaurant, unveiled in fall 2023 with studios and one- and two-bedroom suites, kitchenettes and balconies overlooking Florida Bay. Offering catch-and-cook options and casual fare, the restaurant is open to all park visitors. The park’s pink Guy Bradley Visitor Center — with a Florida National Parks Association bookstore, interactive nature and art exhibits, and expansive views overlooking Florida Bay — is open Fridays through Tuesdays (closed Wednesdays and Thursdays through Oct. 31) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 2,400-square-mile Everglades National Park is the continental United States' third-largest national park. Park entrance fees for vehicles and vessels are $35 for a seven-day pass. Visit flamingo or call 855-708-2207.

In Key Largo, the 200-room Baker’s Cay Resort at 97000 Overseas Highway is revitalizing its rooftop garden with fresh herbs, tomatoes, edible flowers, cucumbers and other vegetables to enhance garden-to-table fare. Executive Chef Carolann Wheeler is developing the resort’s Chef’s Garden to seasonally enhance menus with fresh produce. Sustainability elements throughout the resort include no single-use plastics in meeting setups, handmade organic confetti for wedding packages, refillable and recyclable bottles of water by Florida-based Proud Source, and team activities involving local conservation groups. A resort team-building activity includes group raft building using repurposed materials. Groups of up to six can build rafts to race on Florida Bay. Visit or call 305-852-5553.

Islamorada Resort Collection is to offer 379 guestrooms and a world-class fishing fleet when its newest resort, the 214-room Three Waters Resort & Marina, a Tribute Portfolio Resort, is unveiled in Islamorada this fall. Billed "as an unexpected oceanfront experience unlike any resort currently in the Florida Keys," the resort joins Tribute Portfolio, Marriott Bonvoy’s collection of independent hotels, as the brand's first in the Keys. The new resort is to offer The Cove, an adult-centric resort-within-a-resort with island-inspired rooms and suites with only king beds, a private beach lagoon, and the resort's Wave Motion Studio, a fitness center overlooking the beach. A rum library is to offer tastings on check-in. The property, with 80,000 square feet of meeting space, is to feature nine dining concepts including an island-style pizza restaurant and those featuring wood-fired fare and Central American cuisine; two retail shops; a water taxi for guests; a full-service marina; and a renovated Tiki bar. Planned activities include fly-casting and kayak fishing; offshore and backcountry fishing; and ocean adventures by Spray Watersports, with a 26-mile personal watercraft tour of backcountry mangroves and wildlife preserves. The collection currently includes the 110-room Amara Cay Resort and the 55-unit La Siesta Resort & Villas. Visit or call 866-806-0730. 

Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, located in the heart of the Keys at 1996 Overseas Highway in Marathon, is to convert July 10 to Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, Curio Collection by Hilton. The property, known for its iconic 65-foot-tall Faro Blanco Lighthouse from the 1950s, is unveiling fully renovated guest rooms, the restored historic Parrish House featuring a private suite, and additional experiences throughout the resort by late this year. Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club and the adjacent Courtyard Faro Blanco Resort, combined, are to feature four pools, four dining options, a white sand beach, watersports and 250 guest rooms. Also new are one-story bungalows, a multilevel pool deck with bar and infinity pool, poolside cabanas, and a spa and fitness center. Visit or call 305-743-1234.

In Key West, the 39-unit Island House Resort is nearing the completion of its extensive property renovation of rooms and apartments, poolside bar, 24-hour café, expansive sundeck and indoor spa. Completion is slated for October before the island’s popular Fantasy Fest celebration. Resort manager James Braun designed and fabricated the guest rooms’ custom-made LED backlit headboards complementing the property's new aesthetic, described as “mid-century modern Key West chic.” The clothing-optional resort, operational since 1976 with a unique longevity among men’s gay-owned and -operated properties, is billed as “the best gay resort in the world” and stands at 1129 Fleming St. Visit or call 800-890-6284 or 305-294-6284.

In Key West, the downtown La Concha Key West hotel at 430 Duval St. offers 160 freshly renovated rooms and 14 additional seventh-floor suites named Grande Dame Villas at the Rooftop. Suites feature textured furniture, diagonal square wooden tile patterns, gold and rattan details, floor-to-ceiling windows and Bose sound systems — as well as concierge services and amenities such as fresh flowers, stocked fridge, welcome gift, seasonal fruit, assorted beverages and a La Rubia Panama hat. Undergoing complete renovations are the property's public spaces including the lobby, exterior façade and rooftop pool. Food and libation venues include Tropicado with classic crafted cocktails; Perla and El Dom Coffee Shop with fine and casual Cuban cuisine; and Epicurean with gourmet grab-n-go items, gifts from Key West stores such as La Rubia Key West Authentic Panama Hats, Rodriguez cigars, handcrafted jewelry and sandals. La Concha originally opened in 1926 as a luxury hotel with marble floors, private baths and ocean views. The hotel is expected to join Marriott's Autograph Collection when renovations are completed. Visit or call 305-296-2991.

Key West’s Pier House Resort & Spa, with 119 rooms and 23 suites, is launching an educational Marine Science Eco Experience at 1 p.m. on July 12, 19 and 26. The program explores hands-on experience with sea urchins and cucumbers, decorator crabs and other sea life, loggerhead turtle nesting and the role of coral reefs, marine mammals and invasive species and mangrove and seagrass ecology. The property is located at 1 Duval St. Visit or call 305-296-4600.

The landmark 311-room Casa Marina Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton, at 1500 Reynolds St., this summer opens its newest beachfront restaurant Dorada, the resort’s outdoor oceanside dining outlet serving “Baja-Med” fare and cocktails. Additional food and beverage venues include the signature Flagler’s restaurant with outdoor patio, the Canary Room lobby bar and lounge, and Morrison's Market with takeaway provisions, goods and gifts. Casa Marina Key West’s renovation includes a new 5,000-square-foot oceanfront event lawn, added to an existing 11,000 square feet of indoor event space — including the newly enhanced 3,100-square-foot Flagler's Ballroom, 2,600-square-foot Grand Ballroom and versatile 5,000-square-foot Keys Ballroom. All guest rooms — including 63 suites, many with large oceanfront balconies and patios — are renovated. Two upgraded piers accommodate watersports and group activities such as personal watercraft tours, sunset sails and private snorkeling trips on a luxury catamaran. Visit or call 305-296-3535.

Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa offers restaurant Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Key West Kitchen, at 601 Front St. as a waterfront sea-to-table venue that launched as a pop-up in May 2023. It features fresh catches, hand-crafted cocktails and a daily 5-6 p.m. happy hour. In addition, Hyatt Centric Key West is the first Hyatt resort to implement "The Infinite Bottle Project," serving Proud Source Water in "infinitely recyclable" aluminum packaging. Working toward a goal of becoming a single-use plastic-free resort, the Key West resort has marked a milestone collection of one ton of aluminum from the property and surrounding community. Visit or, or call 305-809-4000 or 305-809-1234.

Keys Sustainability

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council has launched its Florida Keys Eco-Experience Trail pass featuring 55 free geo-tagged, bookable experiences such as visiting Keys eco-attractions, taking a backcountry kayak tour or exploring the island chain’s wildlife refuges and state parks. Newly added vendors include Key West Aquarium, Sol Chaser Charters and Mellow Ventures. Trail participants can discover unique nature tours, wildlife centers and refuges, coral restoration opportunities and fishing, diving and snorkeling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The mobile-exclusive digital Florida Keys Eco-Experience pass features offers, added values and Keys-branded prizes. Visit

Eco-friendly choices for booking Keys accommodations and diving and fishing trips — through the Florida Green Lodging and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Blue Star programs — are now highlighted by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council through designated icons on the Keys’ website. Choices in each of the Keys’ five districts are designated on the website with a Green Lodging leaf graphic or a Blue Star logo. Currently, state-designated Green Lodging properties include 17 Keys lodging establishments, while the Blue Star program features 34 dive operators and 20 fishing operators throughout the Keys. Visit

World-renowned marine conservationist Sylvia Earle and her organization Mission Blue have declared South Florida’s coastal area — the Florida Keys and Ten Thousand Islands, including Biscayne Bay — a Hope Spot, scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean. “This Hope Spot combines the mangroves, seagrass meadows, coral reefs and the deep waters beyond all together, making this an amazing place highly regarded by people all over the world,” Earle said. The new Florida Keys and Ten Thousand Island Hope Spot connects the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with the waters of the national parks of Everglades, Ten Thousand Islands and Biscayne Bay, forming a link between the established Florida Gulf Coast and Coastal South Florida Hope Spots. Visit

In Key Largo, the new REEF Ocean Exploration Center for Marine Conservation at the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is to be unveiled June 8, 2025, on World Oceans Day. The $5 million, 4,000-square-foot two-story facility, with a second-floor balcony, is to feature an ocean exploration gallery and three centers for discovery science, ocean outreach and program planning. REEF’s headquarters is a classic conch-style house, known as the oldest building in the Upper Keys still in its original location. Its on-site Interpretive Center, for groups of up to 80, currently provides educational experiences about fish identification, lionfish and mangrove ecology. REEF is located at 98300 Overseas Highway. Visit or call 305-852-0030.

The Key West Wildlife Center is constructing a new wildlife rescue and rehabilitation clinic within the 7-acre Indigenous Park, located off White Street near Atlantic Boulevard. The new facility, as an avian clinic and a welcome center, is to feature a dedicated treatment area with 25% more interior space for patient care, 40% more exterior space for rehabilitation, and ample protected space for education and outreach. The center also provides rehabilitation for non-avian species. Some 1,500 native wildlife patients were rescued in 2023, said executive director Tom Sweets. The center, at 1801 White St., currently is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, with variable hours during the week due to the construction. Visit or call 305-292-1008.

Keys Parks

The Monroe County Parks and Beaches department is installing more than 30 public pickleball courts this year to meet Keys demand to participate in the recreational sports craze. At Key Largo Community Park at 500 St. Croix Place,10 are set for completion this summer. On Big Pine Key, three courts at Blue Heron Park at 30451 Lyttons Way are to be completed this year, for a total of six. Pickleball lines have been added to two Big Pine Key Community Park tennis courts at 31009 Atlantis Drive. Courts are available at Bay Point Park, 6 W. Circle Drive at mile marker 15 in the Lower Keys. In Key West at Higgs Beach on Atlantic Boulevard, there are six permanent courts and two multipurpose courts with an additional six pickleball courts on two tennis courts. Visit or call 305-453-8748.

A 49,000-square-foot expansion of Concourse A at Key West International Airport is projected to open in spring 2026.

A 49,000-square-foot expansion of Concourse A at Key West International Airport is projected to open in spring 2026.

This article was updated on June 20, 2024 at 10:46 AM