An oasis at this Florida Keys luxury resort | VailDaily.com
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An oasis at this Florida Keys luxury resort

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Vail CO Colorado

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part travel story series about the Florida Keys. Check back next week to read the final story.

ISLAMORADA, Fla. – There are places in this world that you dream about – places that can take you away from life’s worries and bring you to a state of tranquility that you never thought was possible.

The Florida Keys is one of those places, and the Moorings Village is one of those luxury resorts.

Nestled off the southern tip of Florida, the Florida Keys is an archipelago, or chain of islands, spanning about 125 miles southwest from the southeastern tip of the Florida mainland. There are about 1,700 islands in total, of which most of the inhabited islands are connected via causeways and bridges.

With the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico to the west, this chain of islands if often referred to as the Caribbean of the United States because of its climate and landscape.

The subtropical climate and turquoise waters rival some of the world’s most popular island destinations, and because the Florida Keys is accessible by car on one of the most scenic roads in the United States, the experience is much different than, say, a Caribbean cruise or a flight to Hawaii.

While there are commercial flights servicing small airports in the Keys, driving through the Keys is part of the experience of traveling there. Fly into Fort Lauderdale or Miami and rent a car for this not-to-miss road trip along the All-American Road, the highest recognition under the National Scenic Byways program established by the U.S. Congress.

US 1 is the highway through the Keys that feels as if it floats through the waterways between South Florida and Key West. Bridges like the Seven Mile Bridge, a 7-mile span across what feels like the middle of the ocean, give travelers views of clear blue seas in every direction.

About 40 miles into the Keys from the mainland is Islamorada, a village of islands whose name means “purple isles.” Local legend says that Spanish explorers named the island for a violet-colored sea snail, janthina janthina, found in local waters or for the purple bougainvillea flowers in the area.

Islamorada is known as the sport fishing capital of the world for good reason – the fishing is as good as it gets, be it flats fishing or deep sea. People travel from all over the world to Islamorada to reel in beauties like mahi mahi, bonefish, tarpon, permit, marlin, snapper, yellowtail and sailfish.

Peace and luxury

Flats fishing, a kind of sport fishing that is widely popular in the Florida Keys, is quiet and stealthy. One person stands in the back of a small, shallow-water, single-engine boat and pushes it through the waters while the engine is turned off. This fishing method was developed to prevent scaring the fish away while the angler in the front of the boat seeks out his next catch.

Flats fishing isn’t the only reason people in the Keys are turning off their engines, though. The point of traveling to the Keys is respite.

In the Keys, it’s time to turn off life’s engines. It’s a place where you can take a step back and appreciate the world’s beauty. It’s a place where cell phones and computers do not belong, but margaritas and smiles do.

For those who have only seen the Keys from the sides of US 1 and think some of the seedy motels and restaurants scattered around define the region, think again.

There’s a luxurious side to the Keys that you might not see from the highway.

The Moorings Village in Islamorada is a perfect example of the kinds of luxurious Keys oasis that the everyday traveler isn’t going to know about – it’s the kind of place that is so private, you’d think you just landed on an uninhabited island in the middle of the South Pacific.

The beauty of it is that you’re really just an hour and a half drive from Miami, which means you can get to this hidden gem quickly, spending less time traveling and more time relaxing.

The Moorings Village is a “barefoot” resort, which is exactly as it sounds. Leave your shoes inside as you stroll through breathtaking gardens full of lush, tropical landscaping on your way to the resort’s private beach, which is itself a rare find in the Keys.

This is the side of the Florida Keys that you want to know.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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