The Florida Keys stretch 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida, with several of these islands boasting exciting boutique hotels, restaurants and businesses for visitors. Islamorada, Key West and Sunset Key offer discerning travelers unique options for accommodations, excellent dining and high-end activities that are ideal to so many of our readers at LuxeGetaways. We have highlighted a few of our favorite opportunities below, along with a few tips to make the most of each minute spent exploring the Florida Keys.
An Exclusive Hideaway – Casa Morada
Driving from Miami to Islamorada takes just under two hours. Casa Morada is a privately owned hotel with 16 upscale suites, and not far from US-1 south – although it feels like an exclusive hideaway. The garden walkways inspire tranquility, but the highlight of the hotel is its exclusive island that harbors a pool, cabana and the Sunset Gazebo bar.
Suites emulate the Caribbean with simple furnishings. After settling in, take a stroll through the gardens and walk across the picturesque footbridge to order a Casajito – a house-special mojito made with sake. Relax and enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Adventure out on one of Casa Morada’s kayaks or paddleboards, or relax and unwind at one of the free yoga sessions on the pier. Contact the staff to arrange for an in-suite massage, and savor the complimentary breakfast provided each morning on the Seaview Terrace overlooking Florida Bay.
An Opulent Adventure – Casa Morada Tours
Elle Summer and her husband Captain Bill Todd operate Casa Morada Tours. Captain Bill grew up in the area and started sailing at age four. After moving away for many years, he returned to Islamorada with Elle to captain four boats at the hotel.
So Sister, a reproduction of a small skipjack sailboat, is perfect for a romantic sunset sail or a wine and cheese excursion during the day. Blue Mist, a refurbished 1917 commuter yacht is available for overnight guests. Captain Bill and Elle own Gypsy Sol, a 23-foot covered canopy launch used to take guests on educational island echo tours. He explains how the mangroves keep the water clean, points out exciting wildlife, and shuttles visitors to secret coral reefs. The couple also own, Voyager, a 20-foot seacraft used to tote adventurers out to snorkel.
Each vessel accommodates a maximum of six guests affording personalized services for each person on every tour. Casa Morada Tours provides safe, customizable experiences on all their expeditions.
A Delectable Dinner – Chef Michael’s
Chef Michael’s serves inspired Florida Keys cuisine that showcases fresh-caught fish. I ordered a glass of the Sancerre Henri wine on a recent trip, and paired it with their special ceviche comprised of pink Key West shrimp and Florida lobster in a coconut key lime sauce with red onions, cucumber and tomatoes. The dish was extraordinarily light and refreshing. I ordered the triple-fish special as an entrée, and each fish arrived with a unique sauce. When visiting the Keys, it is essential to engage in local specialties, so try Chef Michaels’ key lime pie… it’s a favorite for the locals, and simply delicious.
An Exquisite Hotel – The Marquesa Hotel
The Marquesa Hotel is in the historic district of Old Town Key West. The hotel features a courtyard with two swimming pools and a lush garden. The remodeled 1884 “conch” houses contain rooms and suites. The suites highlight a front porch with ceiling fans, chairs and a table perfect for enjoying a cocktail or cup of coffee.
Café Marquesa is a small quaint restaurant with white linen tablecloths and a stunning mural. Begin your dinner with a Kir Marquesa — Pama Pomegranate liqueur and Bouvet Rosé sparkling wine topped with fresh blueberries. The effervescent cocktail pairs well with the she-crab soup that the server enhances with a few tablespoons of sherry. The beef tenderloin with asparagus, duxelles, a classic béarnaise and natural au jus is always a great option, but the smashed red potatoes with crème Fraiche might steal the show.
A Plethora of Activities – Key West
Key West is full of exciting activities. Danger Charters offers several fun sailing options. Wind & Wine Key West Sunset Sail takes a maximum of 25 people sailing south of the island to watch the sun go down. Guests enjoy fine wines and beers from around the world alongside several tasty appetizers.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote for nearly ten years in Key West. Tours of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum are open to the public, and The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory has an impressive collection of vibrant-colored birds and stunning butterflies.
An Unequalled Paradise – Sunset Key Cottages
Sunset Key is a 27-acre resort island and residential neighborhood in Key West with a boat that escorts residents and guests of Sunset Key Cottages to their cottages. Sunset Key Cottages includes magnificent grounds, 40 one-to-four-bedroom cottages and a signature restaurant, Latitudes. The cottages have luxurious furnishings, pastel-colored wood finishes and authentic Victorian-style roofs… along with unparalleled views.
A Matchless Dinner – Latitudes
Latitudes serves fresh, flavorsome island cuisine with the most spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico. Dine al fresco and watch the tiki torches flicker in the light breeze while the sky explodes in shades of red and orange during sunset. The food and service at Latitudes is exceptional. Try the yellow-tomato watermelon caprese with balsamic glaze and mini mozzarella balls, or taste the perfectly seared scallops with golden beets, luscious corn puree, roasted carrots and sautéed Swiss chard. Indulge in the espresso cheesecake with chocolate ganache or the mango crème brûlée topped with jellies. The staff knows their wine and cocktails; if you don’t have something in mind, give them reign to please and you will not be disappointed.
An Exciting Stay – Southernmost Beach Resort
The boutique hotels scattered over the keys are each well worth exploring; but if you are looking for a lively resort atmosphere, visit Southernmost Beach Resort. This sprawling resort consumes the southeastern point of Key West with well-appointed rooms, a delicious café, three bars, three pools, two beaches, a fitness center and plenty of events each day.