The Florida Keys Still Beckon with Sleepy, Scenic Charm

Florida is many destinations in one. The theme parks of Orlando. The cosmopolitan vibe of Miami.

And then there’s the Keys – or to be perfectly accurate, the Keys and Key West. An archipelago off south Florida, the Keys sweep some 200 miles to the west with Key West at the tip. Home to fewer than 80,000 people, the Keys are known for their stunning turquoise waters, barefoot vibe and Caribbean ambience.

All this and more was showcased at a trade and media cocktail event held Tues 18OCT at Toronto's 150 King West.

Guests at a Florida Keys event
Andy Newman of the Florida Keys News Bureau spreading the good word about the Florida Keys and Key West


Florida Keys Event
The guests enjoyed crab cakes and (of course) key lime pie

According to Andy Newman, Bureau Chief of the Florida Keys News Bureau, the top three best things about the Keys are the laid back atmosphere (“What a great place to chill out”), watersports – including world-class snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing – and the world’s first state-licensed Turtle Hospital, which welcomes human visitors.

Sabine Chilton and Ashley Serrate, Media Relations for the Florida Keys and Key West
Sabine Chilton and Ashley Serrate, Media Relations for the Florida Keys and Key West

Connected by 42 bridges, the Keys have drawn artists, nature lovers and those looking for a laid-back lifestyle for years. As the number 1 source market for foreign visitors, Canada delivers thousands of visitors, including many snowbirds who winter in Florida and “take a vacation during their vacation,” according to Sabine Chilton, International Sales Manager for the Florida Keys and Key West. While the drive market is very important, there are other options to access the Keys including direct flights to Key West from MIA, ORD, DFW and more. Or many Canadians choose to fly to MIA and rent a car, spending, typically 3 days in the upper Keys and 4 days in Key West, according to Chilton.

Once there, the activities range from exhilarating to quirky. According to the book The Florida Keys Bucket List, you can learn how to blow a conch (pronounced conk) shell – the locals are generous with their lessons, apparently, or pretend to be James Bond – at least when he went skydiving in License to Kill, filmed in the Keys. Or rent a kayak and pay a visit to Indian Key, today a ghost town but once the heart of a thriving shipwreck salvaging business.

OTT Florida Keys
Matt Lawrence, Director of Marketing, Hawks Cay Resort.

And if all this sounds too energetic, remember there is always the hammock option. As Matt Lawrence of the expansive Hawks Cay Resort told me, “At our resort you can do everything you wanted to do. Or nothing at all.”

Find out more at fla-keys.com

Martha Chapman


An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

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