It’s the autumnal equinox and even for those of us who hold on to summer as long as possible – after Labor Day, after school has started, heck even after football season has kicked off – it’s over for another year…at least according to the calendar. If you are lucky, and live where it’s warm year round or travel to the little latitudes, you can get summer on demand. For the rest of us, there’s food, music, drinks and photos when we need a virtual trip to blue water.
My most accessible go-to blue water is always in the Florida Keys. No passport, no plane, and often no reservations needed. I’ve been there more times than I can count over the years. I’ve stayed in the pink & turquoise family owned “old Florida” Keys motels, the exclusive village enclave, the renovated B&B, the island holiday party central, and upscale boutique hotels. All different, all good. Locations in the Keys are noted with Mile Markers (MM) and I have driven Key Largo MM110 to Key West MM1 and back several times. I’ve made my acquaintance with Monroe County highway patrol a few times to prove it! There’s so much scuba diving in the Keys there’s always a new place to try. I’ve filled log books with local dive sites, so I can claim my upper, middle, and lower Keys dive merit badges with authority.
I have my own love-hate conflict about gentrification in the Keys. I love that my oldest boat shorts and flip flops can get me from breakfast to dinner with some drying time in between – and I also gripe when I can’t find a decent latte. I glare at 1st time visitors who are complaining about lack of a beach…if they want a beach they should go to Daytona! Then I turn around and vent about the need for a good poolside tiki bar. I want the Keys to stay authentic, but a few upgrades are nice as long as they still have character. Progress has definitely changed Monroe County. I enjoy the new benefits, but I also miss some of the original places and people that have moved out as a result.
Either way I enjoy the Islamorada area from MM80 to MM82. Here’s my bluwater Keys afternoon – the upscale version. Go out on the afternoon dive boat for a couple of dives, come back, rinse the gear and swap out to presentable dry clothes. Drive over oceanside to the Islander Resort or the Cheeca Lodge for a very civilized late lunch/early cocktail at the pool. Stop by Gallery Morada to browse their fantastic assortment of art, jewelry and beautiful crafts….and buy something irresistible.
Leave there and go down the side road to the Moorings Village – where I took the photos with this column. After enjoying a walk on their beautiful private beach, cross over to the bayside and shop a bit more at Islamorada’s World Wide Sportsman. Sit outside on their back porch watching the marina and debate whether to go for dinner at The Islamorada Fish Company to the left or Morada Bay to the right. Either way it’s great food & music outdoors until it’s time to call it a night. Feel lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy a true bluwater afternoon and evening, Keys style.
Enjoy the photos from the Moorings Village at Islamorada….and make sure to enjoy your favorite boat drink Tuesday around 5:00PM to give summer a proper send-off….Cheers, Bluwatergal