Florida Keys – Post Irma Update

All major Keys attractions are back in business, including Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters (with new feedings for Mobula rays), Dolphin Connection in Duck Key and most offerings at Islamorada Key’s Theater of the Sea. At the nonprofit Dolphin Research Center (dolphins.org) in Grassy Key, public programs are in full swing and the new visitor center is on track to open by spring. Ferry tours to Pigeon Key (pigeonkey.net) — with tours of its museum and historic gang quarters — resumed with a new gateway in Marathon Key, departing from Hyatt Place’s marina at the Faro Blanco Lighthouse. Annual events are taking place as scheduled except a handful such as Brew on the Bay and Taste Around the World in Key Largo, which were canceled for 2018. “We survived, now we thrive” characterizes communitywide attitudes. In January at Islamorada’s Morada Way Arts and Cultural District (moradaway.org), new galleries opened, Florida Keys Brewing Co. expanded with a huge new beer garden, and locals lined up for tables at Chef Michael’s indoor and porch dining rooms. Travelers won’t go hungry or thirsty, with most restaurants and bars in full swing. In a typical show of gusto, No Name Pub on Big Pine Key reopened late October. Crowds overflowed onto the Gulf-front deck at Sundowners; one regular answered an inquiry with a smile: “Hurricane? It’d take more than that to make us leave paradise.”