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Welcome to the “Locals’ Choice” Vacation Guide - Florida Keys Residents' Tips for Enjoying the Islands

Carol Shaughnessy
Carol Shaughnessy is a
30-year resident writer

Two days after arriving in the Florida Keys, as I strolled along the Gulf of Mexico shore, the realization hit me: I had found my home. This crescent of subtropical islands, where blue-green water unrolled to the horizon and palm trees rustled in the balmy February breeze, was where I belonged forever.

Unlikely? Not really. That sense of absolute belonging has turned scores of casual Keys visitors into longtime "locals" who create satisfying lives close to nature and far from the mundane pressures of the "real world."

Surprisingly, you don't have to be a local to share some of the elements that make Keys life so happily addictive — as long as you're willing to explore, experience and embrace the unexpected people, places and moments you encounter. Read More »

  • Out-of-the-Way Attractions

    Out-of-the-Way Attractions

    Sometimes the Florida Keys' hidden treasures and colorful locales can be eclipsed by better-known spots. For a unique and enriching Keys vacation, explore intriguing attractions away from the mainstream haunts — whether secluded natural areas, historic spots or unexpected emporiums. Read More »

    Left: Marathon Turtle Hospital rehabilitates our most precious creatures.
  • Top 10 List: Live Like a Local

    Top 10 List: Live Like a Local

    Why is the Florida Keys island chain so enchanting, and what activities do Keys residents appreciate and embrace? Hear it straight from the locals' mouths. Read More »
  • The Keys Can’t-Miss List

    The Keys Can’t-Miss List

    Let’s imagine you’ve got only two or three days to explore the entire Florida Keys (which would clearly be a planning mistake, since the island chain’s five diverse regions should be explored at a leisurely pace). Read More »
  • Become a Lionfish Hunter

    Become a Lionfish Hunter

    For some local scuba divers and spearfishermen, capturing lionfish during recreational scuba dives and weekend free-dive fishing jaunts is a regular activity, and helps preserve Florida Keys habitats and eco-systems. Read More »
  • Captains Teach

    Captains Teach

    The experienced offshore charter captains and backcountry guides of the Florida Keys are experts on fish behavior, fishing techniques and local waters — and wise anglers pay close attention to their insights and tips. Read More »
  • So You Think You’ve Seen the Keys? Think Again!

    So You Think You’ve Seen the Keys? Think Again!

    There's more to the Florida Keys than meets the eye, yet travelers often visit once and think they've seen it all. With so many hidden gems and colorful locales, even frequent visitors can enjoy new experiences each time they return to the island chain. Read More »

Meet the Locals

People who live in the Florida Keys, with their funky hotspots, close-to-nature lifestyle and lively arts community, do so because they choose to embrace the Keys’ offbeat, easygoing vibe and make it their own. Click here to meet some of the quirky, creative and genuinely friendly residents of the laid-back island chain.