A Green Vacation in the Florida Keys- Part II, with KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts Villas & Marinas

A Green Vacation in the Florida Keys: Part II- Attractions, Dining and Food, and how the Keys are becoming more Green…

Mangrove

Visitors from around the world are drawn to the Florida Keys to experience the island chain’s priceless natural resources, and the therapy they provide the mind, body and soul. The Keys have celebrated a heritage of conservation and protection of these resources for more than 100 years, demonstrating the region’s commitment to responsible tourism, environmental stewardship and the future of the island chain.

Green Scene

Spotlights news about an environmentally
focused attraction, event, person or place
that enriches the Florida Keys.

OUR MISSION

The mission of the Monroe County (Florida Keys) Tourist Development Council is to set an overall direction for the Florida Keys tourism marketing effort in a manner that will assure long-term sustained growth in tourism revenues while also guaranteeing the sustainability and improvement of our product, including both our man-made and natural resources, and improvements to the quality of life of our residents.

National Key Deer Refuge in the Lower Keys

National Key Deer Refuge
in the Lower Keys

Marathon's Dolphin Research Center

Marathon’s
Dolphin Research Center

The Underwater World of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The Underwater World
of the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary

 

ENJOY A GREEN VACATION

Transportation  •  Accommodations  •  Eco-Attractions
Activities
 •  Voluntourism  •  Dining & Food
How Keys Communities Are Becoming More Green

 

The Upper Keys:

In Key Largo and Islamorada, KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas has two exclusive locations, Mariners Resort Villas & Marina and the Historic Tavernier Inn

Activities

The Florida Keys are filled with eco-friendly things to do while on vacation. Like walking tours, they are designed to interact with nature, are inexpensive and low-impact, and help visitors get to know the Keys more intimately:

Kayaking the backcountry waters of the Florida Keys, and you’ll see one of the world’s most diverse marine life ecosystems. The quiet, shallow backwater region of flats and mangrove islands has inspired many naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts to combine environmental tourism with the sport of sea kayaking.

Mangrove kayaking

Where the freshwater from the Everglades mixes with the saltwater of Florida Bay is an environmentally fascinating place. Key Largo is unique among the Keys in that it abuts Everglades National Park, the third largest park in the continental United Sates, along its southeastern-most border. Winding tributaries and tiny creeks are covered with a canopy of old-growth mangrove trees overhead. Manatees are regular visitors, especially during the winter months. For those who enjoy wilderness camping, outfitters in the Keys offer extended kayak and canoe trips from Flamingo, a national park outpost where the Everglades meet the sea, to Everglades City on Florida’s west coast. Tour boats and air-boat rides through the grassy interior of the Everglades can also introduce you to the wildlife and wilderness.

Kitesurfing

Kite Surfing & Kite Boarding Adrenaline enthusiasts enjoy virtually any adventure that catches air and goes fast. For an exhilarating rush over seagrass flats, try a backcountry safari where kiters slip through estuaries past marine life.

 

Sailing is the oldest means of emissions-free travel. Choose a sailboat or yacht that is powered up by water or wind. Or if you use an engine-powered yacht, look for one with an eco-friendly generator that puts the boat on autopilot, helping to cut back on fuel consumption and pollution. There are numerous locations throughout the Keys to rent a sailboat; or enjoy a sunset or snorkel sailing adventure. Sailing aficionados also have exciting opportunities to watch fast-paced regatta races in the Keys. January brings sailing enthusiasts two chances to celebrate wind and waves in the warm subtropical climate of the Keys, with the North American Multihull Sailing Association North American Championships and Tradewinds Midwinter Nationals, and the annual Acura Key West races.

Sailing

 

Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding When the winds are too much (or simply nonexistent) for kiteboarding, standup paddling is a perfect stand-in sport for fun and a core physical workout. It’s possible to use the board for surfing, traversing on a “downwinder” (riding the board backed by tradewinds to cover long distances), as a fishing or diving platform, or just quietly enjoying secluded eco-tours through the backcountry flats in an environmentally friendly way.

 

Snorkeling & Diving Thousands of recreational scuba divers are hosted in the Florida Keys each year, where they can snorkel or dive the third largest barrier coral reef in the world. Divers in the Florida Keys have a unique opportunity to explore historic shipwrecks and military vessels purposely sunk as artificial reefs along a trail that stretches from Key Largo to Key West. A Florida Keys Wreck Trek was created to encourage an appreciation and understanding of the Keys’ maritime heritage, and these artificial reefs take pressure off the natural reef system by promoting marine ecosystems in areas that were generally featureless ocean bottom while at the same time creating new recreational diving areas that thrive with aquatic life. Professional dive operators as well as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary staff help educate recreational divers about coral reef etiquette.

Spiegel Grove

 

Catch & release

Catch & Release fishing Conservation efforts designed to enhance fish stocks have been driving the fishing ethic in the Keys for decades. Keys guides pioneered catch-and-release fishing. Size and bag limits, and more recently bans on gill nets and fish traps in state waters, have enabled stocks to grow and stabilize.

 

Coral Restoration Divers can become citizen scientists, and work side-by-side with marine scientists to aid in reef restoration during build-a-reef opportunities set in the Upper Florida Keys. Scuba divers learn from and work with coral restoration expert Ken Nedimyer and marine scientists about coral health, corals’ function in marine ecosystems, identification of natural and manmade threats to coral and means to protect the resource. The Coral Restoration Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to restoring coral reefs, and has opportunities to get involved and even Adopt-A-Coral.

Coral restoration

 

Other ways you can volunteer for environmental, conservation and preservation activities during your vacation include:

Keys Voluntourism — Whether you have special skills or interests, or just want to help out, you can connect with the causes and charities that are dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of both human and animal life in The Florida Keys. Find causes that range from reef restoration and beach clean-ups to helping kids or spending time working in a wildlife refuge.

Adopt-A-Reef Clean Up programs — Divers volunteer to clean up monofilament fishing line from the reef and other fragile areas. From Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys. Occur in April and September.

Bleach Watch — During your next trip to the reef scuba Divers and snorkels can actually help the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Mote Marine Laboratory monitor the coral. Just report back through this program whether you saw healthy reef or any evidence of coral bleaching episodes.

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) — REEF is a non- profit organization that encourages recreational divers and snorkelers to conduct fish surveys during their normal dive activities. Surveying can be conducted year round. Contact REEF to find out how you can conduct a fish survey during your next dive or snorkeling trip.

Reef Relief — If you will be sailing or yachting to the Keys, this private environmental group has information on clean boating practices in the protected waters of the Florida Keys.

 

Dolphin

Dolphin encounters The Federation of Tour Operators has adopted a set of guidelines for animal attractions featuring whales and dolphins, primarily with regard to general animal welfare, training and programs. Florida Keys marine mammal facilities assure visitors that they will see and interact with dolphins that are happy, healthy, well cared for and loved. Such facilities exist in Key Largo, Marathon, as well as wild dolphin encounters off Key West.

 

Bicycling enthusiasts throughout the country enjoy the freedom of US1 and the Overseas Highway, linking over 100 miles of islands with 42 bridges — one being seven miles long. Not only are many areas of the Keys bicyclist-, and pedestrian-friendly with designated walkways and pathways, the Key West city buses and the Key West Express ferry also permit riders to bring their bikes along, and most cab companies have bike racks on their taxis.

Bicycling

Some important resources for cyclists:

Florida’s Bicycle Laws

Florida Keys Trails & Side Trails

Map of Key West Bike Routes

Florida Keys Overseas Highway Heritage Trail

The Middle Keys:

In the Middle Keys,  KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas has the Village at Hawks Cay Villas on Duck Key, Indigo Reef Resort Villas & Marina and the Coral Lagoon Resort Villas &Marinas

Dining & Food

Eating locally is one of the best ways to support a community — shopping at local, organic, artisanal stores and seafood markets, and dining at area restaurants that prepare dishes with locally sourced ingredients. And, it’s fun to celebrate by finding foods in a new place that you cannot get at home!

Keys restaurants across the island chain are implementing programs to become more green such as recycling, switching to biodegradable take-out containers, reducing energy consumption, switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and installing low-flow bathroom fixtures.

The Florida Keys can boast early settlers ranging from Bahamian fishermen to Cuban cigar makers and New England merchants. With such a rich melting pot, it’s natural that the indigenous cuisine came to incorporate diverse and delicious influences — with a reliance on an abundant array of fish and seafood harvested from surrounding waters.

Commercial fishing, in fact, is the second-largest industry in the Keys. Fresh catches that grace a restaurant table at night were probably unloaded at the docks that morning, and fish and seafood headline nearly every restaurant menu.

Stone Crabs

Seafood markets are brimming with sustainable choices such as the clawless spiny lobster, Key West pink shrimp and fish caught in local waters, such as mahi-mahi, grouper and snapper. Stone crabs, renowned for their sweet and succulent meat, are a popular delicacy. Because nearly all of the crab’s meat is contained within its grapnels, these are the only portions of the crustacean that are harvested. Once the claws are removed, the crab is returned to the sea where, over the course of up to two years, the claws regenerate. It is for this reason that stone crabs are considered a renewable resource, and the Florida Keys are responsible for about 40 percent of the state’s overall harvest.

A number of annual festivals celebrate the Keys’ favorite crustaceans, notably the Key West Lobsterfest, the Key West Seafood Festival and the Original Marathon Seafood Festival.


Lettuce and tomato

Organic and healthy eateries are emerging in the Keys, who use “real food” — unprocessed food free of pesticides, chemicals, preservatives, hormones and antibiotics — as a basis for menu creation. An Islamorada hydroponic farm now supplies local eateries with year-round fresh produce, which is a benefit of the Keys’ year-round favorable climate. Hydroponic gardens use much less water and yield crops such as lettuce and tomatoes within three to four weeks, or fruits within a couple of months.

 

When it comes to dessert, it’s almost impossible to spend time in the Keys without sampling succulent fruits and Key lime pie, the island chain’s signature dessert. Although there are no commercial Key lime groves in the Florida Keys today, Key Largo boasted a large Key lime industry until about the mid 1930s. Restaurants throughout the Florida Keys and Key West continue to use Key limes and their juice to enhance seafood dishes and sauces, as well as in pies.

Key Lime

The Lower Keys:

In the Lower Keys, KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas has the Coral Hammock Resort Villas and Kings Point Marina

How Keys Communities Are Becoming More Green

Got Your Bags? Florida Keys

South Florida Water Management District Program – Water CHAMP

Florida Keys Green Living & Energy Education (GLEE)

Island Cleanup

Waste Management & Recycling

Keys Energy (KEYS)

Florida Keys Electric Co-op

Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) & Water Conservation Programs

City of Key West Sustainability Program

KeysReuse – A Florida Member of the Reuse Alliance

Butterfly
Recycle

Local newspapers use biodegradable bags to deliver their papers, and use natural inks produced from plant sources such as soy and other environmentally friendly materials. The newsprint is produced from a combination of recycled stock and paper from renewable farmed trees, and excess newsprint and recycled newspapers to a paper recycling and production company in Fort Lauderdale.

If you’re coming down to visit and stay with us at the KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas in our vacation rentals, share some of your favorite experiences with us …

Visit our blog next Tuesday with updated experiences in the Florida Keys…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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