Friday FabOoolousness – Paradise in the Florida Keys

Who loves vacations?  White sand, turquoise water, and a soft island breeze with a few pina coladas – that’s our idea of a vacation.

My view from the cabana, now just imagine me holding a pina colada....

Last week’s Friday FabOoolousness blog post listed seven places on my travel bucket list, and not one of them included locations within the United States.  What’s ironic about the timing and publishing of the post?  I was sitting pretty in a beach chair off the Atlantic Ocean in a tropical paradise – Islamorada, Florida.

On the beach with my favorite mystery series

Islamorada means “purple island” and is known as a “village of islands” located on multiple islands within the Florida Keys, almost centralized between the cities of Miami and Key West. 

The tropical climate in Islamorada resembles that of the Caribbean.  While we were there, the temperature never raised above the triple digit figures we’re accustomed to in the state of Texas this time of year, and the humidity wasn’t like walking through a constant cloud of moisture.  It was simply beautiful allowing our group to stay outside for hours on end enjoying the sand and beach.

Our approach to the Alligator Reef Lighthouse

Our group couldn’t resist the urge to take the snorkeling charter out to the Alligator Reef Lighthouse, a coral reef only thirty minutes from the shores of Islamorada.  The waters were only about ten to fifteen feet deep at the lighthouse, and crystal clear making for a great snorkeling experience.  We saw Surgeonfish, Juvenile Angelfish, a few bright blue wrasse, and a couple of large and beautiful Parrot fish. 

I didn't take this picture....but this is a Parrot Fish

Not a seasoned snorkeler, I headed back to the boat after spotting a few barracuda and being instructed to make a fist (they supposedly like to nibble on fingers), missing out on the jellyfish, the Moray eel, and the four-foot baby shark that the rest of the group experienced.  I can’t really say that I’m sad. 

Another must-do when vacationing at the beach is to order and consume as much fresh fish as possible.  Before every dinner, we relished the conch and clam chowder as well the jerk shrimp and conch fritter appetizers.  Our main dishes included blackened Mahi Mahi, grilled and whole Yellowtail Snapper, Lobster Schnitzel (shelled, rolled in breadcrumbs and pan-fried with a light butter sauce – yea, it’s pretty tasty), scallops, crab, and mussels to just name a few.

Who can travel to the Florida Keys without eating key lime desserts?  We sampled the key lime cheesecakes, the tarts, and the pies.  Nothing beats topping off a fine dining experience like a piece of key lime pie and a cup of coffee.  Well, maybe a few people prefer Sambuca (tastes like liquid licorice) and bread pudding for dessert. 

For those looking for a U.S. tropical paradise, I recommend the Cheeca Lodge and Spa.  The resort has a secluded beach, a 525-foot pier, a Jack Nicklaus 9-hole par 3 golf course, a camp for the kids, and of course a spa.  The resort also offers kayaking, windsurfing, chartered fishing boats, and sailboat rentals.  Once you arrive, you never have to leave again.

Enjoy some of our shots around the resort!

My view while sipping a cup of morning coffee

What’s your ideal vacation and where do you like to go?  Do you know of another tropical paradise in the U.S. that we need to check out?  Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

43 Replies to “Friday FabOoolousness – Paradise in the Florida Keys”

  1. Oh, Tiffany, it sounds like paradise. Some of the best vacations we ever took were to Cancún. It was so relaxing and peaceful. FWIW, you’re a girl after my own heart about the snorkeling. As much of a daredevil as I am, I saw Jaws too young to get in the water. The barracuda would have sent me back to the boat, pronto. If we ever get serious about going to the Florida Keys, I’ll have to get with you for some vacation tips. 😀

    Dream vacation? Cook Islands. I’d like to find somewhere sort of deserted since we live in an overpopulated area (and I’m sick of it).

    Tropical Paradise in US: Probably not tropical, but there are some islands off the eastern coast I’d like to check out. And, not US, but I’d like to go to Baja sometime. Thanks for such a cool post.

    1. Hey, Catie! I’ve been to Cancun once….parasailed and panicked when the boat driver dropped my rear into the ocean and then scooted me across the top of a water like a skipping rock. I was TERRIFIED! You and I could definitely go snorkeling together – one good thing about hurrying back to the boat was getting some great shots of the others out there.

      Cook Islands? Caribbean? I love the Caribbean….Baja sounds good too – and Cabo. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Any other day, I’d be jealous, but I am at the beach myself! While not in Florida, or my home near South Padre, I am living the beach life at the Outer Banks, NC till Tues. I’ll probably have some pics on my blog this weekend 🙂

    1. Oh, South Padre….do I have stories about you! Now, I’d love to see the beaches in NC – I’ve heard they’re beautiful. NC is a place I’d like to visit, specifically attend a basketball game at Cameron Indoor. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Claudia!

  3. Oh I am sooo jealous. Hubby and I didn’t get to take our usual vacation to Panama City Beach this year because he changed jobs and doesn’t get a vacation yet. When he was in the Navy, he got to go to both Hawaii and Rio. He liked Rio much better. I haven’t been anywhere except the Bahamas on a cruise. But I preferred the ship. LOL

    1. Hey, Lauralynn! I really want to go to the Bahamas…. This was our first beach vacation since 2007 when we went on a cruise through Key West, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel….not sure we’ll do another cruise, but it is nice how you get to experience different places on the one trip. I prefer the arrive at the beach and park it vacation. Hawaii and Rio….I could manage a trip there. 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Well, the Keys have more to offer than key lime pie. We had a nutella bread pudding one night. I almost couldn’t get up from the table. Thank Heavens it was a walk back to our living quarters. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica! Pool time and reading this weekend? 🙂

  4. I love the Keys…happy sigh and fond memories 🙂 One of my favorite memories was the sunset celebration on the boardwalk in Key West with a bagpiper playing Amazing Grace as the sun sank into the sea.

    Beautiful pictures. I have a love-hate relationship with resorts. I love having the staff waiting on me hand and foot but hate the sense of artifice at most resorts. I’m craving a beach vacation now!

    1. Hey, Raelyn! We’ve been to Key West and walked the boardwalk – quickly before the ship left us! I can only imagine how amazing your experience was. You know, Mandalay has a beach near you….Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I may live in Florida, but I have never vacationed in the Keys, so I loved your pictures and recommendation. Might be something we do in the future (esp since we can drive there!)

    Glad you had a good time!

  6. Oh, wow this place looks fantastic! I’m definitely going to go there — eventually. Haha. Great pictures, sounds like you had a ton of fun. =)

  7. I love laying by the beach, sitting at the beach, standing on the beach. I have no idea why I live nowhere near a beach! :o/ hmmm.

  8. Looks wonderful! I’m glad you had such a good time. My favorite tropical US location is Kauai. I go there every other year. It is so lovely and not crazy commercial.

  9. I’m trying not to weep now, as I contemplate how much more I’d rather spend money on a beautiful, relaxing vacation like that than the plumbing pipes under my house that need replacing. Alas! It will be 2012 or so before I am basking in the sunshine, wiggling my toes in sand, and frolicking in the ocean’s water…or wait, I live near Galveston. Does that count?

    Gorgeous pics, Tiffany! Glad you had a wonderful time.

    1. It’s been years since I’ve been to the Galveston beaches….are they nice? Sometimes life calls and plumbing pipes definitely seem like a necessity. Thanks for stopping by, Julie! Good luck with the house maintenance.

  10. The pictures — and vacation description — sound fabulous, Tiffany. I have a book set in this area and now you’ve given me some sightseeing ideas. As well, you’ve given me the location of my next holiday spot. :o)

  11. Oh, this makes me miss home!!! I’m so glad you had a good time. I used to wonder why people looked at us like we were nuts when we said we had just moved to New England from Florida. Looking at your pictures just confirmed that everyone was right. Why doesn’t NE believe in air conditioning lol? Now off to ask boyfriend why we moved here again cause I need reminding!

    1. Hey, Lauren! I could not live some place without air conditioning! Even with the climate so much cooler and beautiful in Florida than what we’re used to in TX, we cranked our AC way down in the hotel suite. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Love Islamorada…a whole week of fishing, grilling it and stepping on over to the Lorelei Cabana bar for drinks and dancing…could do that every day…was way better than Key West. Thanks for the cool pics and good times revived!

    1. Hi, Donna! Thanks for stopping by! I had heard before we left that Islamorada was a better vaca spot than Key West and now I believe them! I’m ready to go back – this time for longer than four days. 🙂

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