Looking for a winter get away? Try the Florida Keys, a 193-km (120-mile) chain of tropical islands off the southern tip of Florida sitting between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The sun is shining, waters are warm, and the reefs are teeming with fish. Bicycling, kayaking, boating, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving are a few of the things to do. Or maybe you prefer to bask in the sun, sip drinks, or read a book at a café glancing up from time to time to watch the waves roll onto the shore. The Keys have a relaxed feel with interesting things to see and do, and since they are connected by causeways and bridges, you can drive from Key Largo, the northernmost isle, all the way to Key West.
In September, 2017, Hurricane Irma (a Category 4 storm) pummeled the Keys with strong winds and flooding, knocking out power and depositing tons of debris. We toured the Keys two a half months later and found most of the tourist services were up and running. The residents and businesses had a massive job cleaning up and they succeeded. With that said, visitors may see remaining damage, (e.g. business signs on tall poles were still shattered awaiting their replacements; leaves ripped off towering palm trees, and piles of debris were being picked up on a few of the smaller keys.) This damage should not deterred visitors, however, as resorts, hotels, restaurants, and shops are open and eager to serve you.
We think this is an ideal time to visit the Florida Keys because the crowds have not yet returned. You can score a beautiful and relaxing vacation while supporting the locals as they finish their clean up.
Feature photo: Dock at Islamorada