DREAMSCAPES FALL/WINTER 2021
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THE FLORIDA KEYS: SAY HELLO TO SUNSHINE
 
(2021 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: SUSAN B. BARNES



As temperatures drop, it’s time to start thinking of warmer climates. Rather than flying to the Caribbean, opt instead for the Florida Keys. The 195-kilometre tropical island chain begins just south of Miami and encompasses five districts along the way: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys and Key West.

Not only are the varying shades of blue water calm and inviting, but the wide-open spaces of the Florida Keys are void of crowds so getting back to nature just feels, well, natural.

DIVE INTO KEY LARGO

Some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in Florida occur off Key Largo. At John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park dive into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, home to the Florida Reef, the only living coral reef in North America and the third-largest coral barrier reef in the world. Keep your eyes open too! You might spot manatees, sea turtles and dolphins swimming amid the colourful tropical fish.

CATCH THE BIG ONE OFF ISLAMORADA

Offshore charter boats with tournament-grade captains are ready to usher you to secret spots teeming with fish. In this backcountry aquatic adventure, you can cast a line in shallow water fishing for sailfish or pursue fly fishing offshore for bonefish, tarpon and snook. Islamorada is, after all, where backcountry sport fishing and saltwater fly fishing were pioneered.

TAKE IT EASY ON MARATHON

Don’t do a marathon dash through this compact family-fun island in the middle of the Keys island chain. Rather, stop and explore the fishing heritage, the old-Keys lifestyle and the seafaring traditions. One of the most popular spots in Marathon is the Turtle Hospital with a focus on sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation and release. Tour the hospital and the sea turtle rehabilitation area for close animal encounters.

SLOW DOWN IN THE LOWER KEYS

As you continue southwest, take a peek at Pigeon Key, accessible by ferry. In the early 1900s, the two-hectare island was a base camp for the workers who built the original bridge. Next continue on the iconic Seven Mile Bridge to arrive into the Lower Keys. You can cycle and spot local key deer, or lie on the white sand beaches of Bahia Honda State Park. Stock Island adds its rustic authenticity to the Lower Keys with its marinas, art studios, and waterfront bars and restaurants. Eco-adventures galore are available on Big Pine Key, and ornithologists migrate to the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge.

CELEBRATE IN KEY WEST

The southernmost point in the continental United States is closer to Cuba than to Miami, and was once Florida’s largest city. Discover a Bahamian and Cuban heritage that blends effortlessly with history, nature, cultural diversity and architecture. It’s also easy to see how Key West lives up to its funky reputation: “Close to Perfect – Far From Normal.” Board a schooner and feel the wind in the sails, or ride the Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry for a day trip to Fort Jefferson. At the end of the day, join the nightly sunset celebrations at Mallory Square.

Travel Planner

For the latest protocols on health and safety in the Florida Keys, please visit fla-keys.com

 
 
 
 
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