How To Spend 48 Hours In The Eco-Friendly Florida Keys
By Shenae Curry
Visiting the Florida Keys is like heading to your favorite Caribbean island without the need for a passport.
From the hot sun, beautiful beaches, and unforgettable sunset, The Keys are sure to charm its way into being your favorite semi-local location. Key West is the largest & most known island of the 1,700 archipelagoes that make up the Florida Keys but each island has so much to offer.
Not only do The Keys bring a unique vacation in your backyard vibe, but they’re also in a league of their own when it comes to sustainability and being eco-friendly. Here are ways you can have a fulfilling visit to Key West while knowing you’re doing your part to help the planet.
After landing at Key West International Airport, or driving in from Miami, check yourself into Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club. If you are looking for Florida hotels on a sunny tropical beach with gorgeous oceanfront accommodations and a sustainably operated resort with amenities for any traveler, look no further. Grassy Flats has an amazing pool, free wifi, a private bar, Barrel & Bale, it’s own beach, and a vibe reminiscent of staying at a friend’s house in the Caribbean.
After settling in, grab a quick breakfast at Midway Café and Coffee Bar and prepare for your ride out to your educational session with the Coral Restoration Foundation. Here you’ll engage with interactive exhibits that demonstrate the importance of global coral reefs and CRF’s initiatives and actions to restore coral reefs.
Following your lesson on whats going on with the coral reefs, you can head over to the Rainbow Reef Dive Center where you’ll embark on a one of a kind journey with CRF where you’ll get to snorkel, or dive if you’re certified, and get a first-hand look at the work they’ve done to rebuild and give new life to Florida’s coral reefs.
After working up that appetite, you’ll want to head over to have lunch at Snook’s Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki Bar where the lobster mac & cheese is absolutely AMAZING.
After lunch, drive down to Key West for a tour and cocktail-making session at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery with Paul Menta where you’ll learn the history of the mojito while learning to make it the authentic Cuban way. Paul and his wife Krystal are extremely educated and enthusiastic about their rums and will definitely have you side-eyeing mojitos made with syrup.
Now that you’ve gotten some liquid energy into your system, it’s time for the Mallory Glow Tour with Key West Hydrobikes! Hydrobiking is not only a great exercise but an amazing way to watch the sunset. No motors are used to they’re safe and great for both you and the sea life!
End your night with dinner and drinks at the beautiful First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery. The menu has so many good looking entrees that you’ll probably want to order a bunch to share with the table.
Start your day with breakfast at Sunset Grille. They have an amazing view and menu.
After breakfast, it’s time to get muddy.
Up the Keys Eco Tours’ “voluntourism” allows groups to experience the Keys’ marine environment for a day. The operator has teamed up with the nonprofit volunteer Conch Republic Marine Army and Big Pine Kayak Adventures for guided tours and a kayak excursion. The Conch Republic Marine Army will detail the brief history of how Hurricane Irma has devastated the Keys and take you along the shorelines where you’ll help collect and remove debris that has been wreaking incredible havoc on the environment and ecosystem. You’ll want to bring water shoes along for this one.
After doing your part to clean up the coast, head down to Turtle Kraals for lunch. Conch is one of the major food groups of The Keys and Turtle Kraals is a great place to get a taste of some good conch fritters.
Right outside of the restaurant are the boat decks where you will meet up with Honest Eco for a dolphin watch and snorkeling. There’s nothing like seeing dolphins in their natural habitat and they are no stranger to Key West. During the tour you can see entire groups of dolphins playing around, throwing food to birds or teaching babies how to hunt. Honest Eco is a hybrid electric boat which makes them friends to the dolphins and other wildlife.
After all of these activities, you’ll want to get back to your hotel to refresh, get some rest and just take in the day you’ve had.
To wind the day down you can stay at Grassy Flats to check out their bar, amenities or take a dip in the pool – or you can visit Florida Keys Brewing Co. and take part in a paint & sip while trying out a flight of craft beers. Florida Keys Brewing Co. has an incredible list of beers (I recommend their jalapeno mango beer!)
Not too far from the beergarden is Chef Michaels’ where the menu is to die for. All of their fish is fresh and local which is a great way to end your stay.