In Marathon, the new SkipJack Resort & Marina, the former Sombrero Resort & Marina, has opened with a $6 million renovation, refurbished rooms and new landscaping. Skipjack offers 60 deluxe suites, accommodating up to four people in one-bedroom king rooms with sleeper sofa and kitchenette, and a heated pool and 54-slip marina. Boot Key Bar & Grill and a separate poolside bar are on-site. Vessels up to 60 feet can be accommodated with 30- and 60-amp electrical power, fresh water, and pump-out facilities. For more information, visit skipjackresortmarathon.com.
Forbes Travel Guide has ranked five Lower Keys and Key West resorts among “recommended” global properties that, according to the guide, offer “consistently good services and facilities” for 2017. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is described by Forbes as “sprinkled with bungalows decorated in a South Seas style.” The luxury property is located on a private island off Little Torch Key. In Key West, The Marker Waterfront Resort earned its first “recommended” status as “an outlier in opulence.” Also “recommended” are three other Key West resorts. The Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, “exudes some of the old Key West grandeur, elegant and graceful.” The Reach, A Waldorf Astoria Resort “is a small getaway with a tropical, relaxed atmosphere.” Southernmost Beach Resort “offers stimulating activities for everyone” and a “superb location.” For more information, visit forbestravelguide.com.
The marina at the 216-room Marriott Key West Beachside offers water taxi service from its new 16-slip dock to the Key West Historic Seaport. The 25-minute service is aboard Fury Water Adventure Key West’s newest 40-person, 45-foot-long catamaran. Passengers are transported from the marina to the downtown seaport. Transportation is priced from $10.95 each way for adults, $8.95 for children 4-12, and free for kids 3 and under. Key West Beachside Marina’s dock, available to guests for rentals, is offered for boats up to a 40-foot length and 13-foot beam. A Dock and Dine service allows guests to dine poolside at the resort’s Blue Bar or its indoor Tavern N Town restaurant. For more information, visit keywestmarriott.com.
Duck Key Charters LLC in Marathon now offers direct charter flights from Florida Keys Marathon International Airport to Jose Marti International Airport just southwest of Havana, Cuba. Round-trip flights from Marathon to Havana cost $3,400 to charter a five-passenger Piper Aztec aircraft. Through World Cuba Travel, Duck Key Charters arranges a group guide and two or more nights’ accommodations in Havana, priced from $875 per person. Visas and insurance are included and arranged through World Cuba Travel. Duck Key Charters also flies charters throughout Florida, to the Bahamas, and to Grand Cayman. For more information, visit FloridaKeysAir.com.
Lazy Dog Adventures at Stock Island’s Hurricane Hole Marina has launched new backcountry tours aboard a new six-passenger pontoon boat to give guests an authentic local experience. The tours offer backcountry stand-up paddleboard and kayak paddling, snorkeling and swimming amid mangroves and near an isolated sandbar. Morning half-day tours run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and afternoon half-day trips run from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Half-day tours are priced from $200 for two people to $700 for five to six participants. Full-day tours, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., are priced from $600 for two to $1,000 for five to six. Private charters are priced from $700 to $1,000. Lazy Dog can accommodate families and pets. It also offers guided kayak and snorkel eco-tours, dockside kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, beginner stand-up lessons and paddle yoga and fitness. For more information, visit lazydog.com.
A giant sculpture called “Embracing Peace” created by artist J. Seward Johnson has been installed alongside the front steps of Key West’s Custom House Museum. The 25-foot-tall bronze artwork was inspired by a famous photograph of a sailor and nurse locked in an immortalized kiss in New York City’s Times Square, celebrating the end of World War II. The image has been called the most famous kiss in American history. Johnson, whose works are showcased throughout the world, created “Embracing Peace” in 2005. More than 250 couples in Key West gathered at the Custom House Museum on Valentine’s Day 2017 to re-create the famous kiss. One of the island city’s premier historic sites and museums, the Custom House is operated by the Key West Art & Historical Society. “Embracing Peace” is the fourth of Johnson’s super-sized sculptures to grace the museum’s steps during the past nine years. For more information, visit kwahs.org.
History of Diving Museum: Spiegel Grove Exhibit – Through Sept. 4, 2017
Enjoy a special exhibit celebrating and honoring the Spiegel Grove, intentionally sunk 15 years ago off Key Largo. The 510-foot U.S. Navy ship is the third-largest vessel ever intentionally sunk to become an artificial reef. The exhibit highlights all who served on the great ship, missions it participated in, the efforts in preparing it for sinking and the environmental impact the artificial reef has had on the area. The exhibit is to be on display through Labour Day at Islamorada’s renowned History of Diving Museum. For more information, visit divingmuseum.org.
Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament – June 2-4, 2017
Angling teams can compete for more than $35,000 in cash and prizes while vying to land the largest dolphin fish June 2-4 in the waters surrounding the Lower Florida Keys. The Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament, now in its 24th year, features a $7,500 first prize in the open division for boat teams, as well as a trophy. If the winning dolphin weighs more than 50 pounds, an additional $20,000 is awarded. For more information, visit lowerkeyschamber.com/tournaments.php.
Did You Know?
Key West is the southernmost city in the continental USA – and actually closer to Havana, Cuba, than to Miami, Florida!