Whether it's weddings with a twist, a
museum marathon or a quiet retreat from modern life, the islands of
the Florida Keys have something for just about everyone. Leisure
travelers are in luck if they're looking for a place to get hitched
-- in a lagoon, for example, with dolphins as bridesmaids -- or to
simply get away from it all at a private, old-fashioned beach
The following are
some of the latest developments and events taking place this summer
across the archipelago.
weddings, not uncommon nowadays, usually take place on the beach
somewhere tropical, with family and friends in attendance. But how
about a wedding ceremony that takes place waist-deep in water,
accompanied by dolphin clicks?
Hawk's Cay Resort
on Duck Key has launched a Dolphin Wedding package that lets guests
tie the knot in its saltwater lagoon surrounded by dolphins from
the resort's dolphin interaction program, Dolphin Connection. Formed in 1990 under the direction of the
Chicago Zoological Society, Dolphin Connection is a research
facility for bottlenose dolphins. The program is the only one of
its kind at a U.S. resort.
Wedding package is $2,000. The ceremony lasts about 10 minutes,
followed by another 10 minutes of picture-taking. The package
includes images of the ceremony on CD and a souvenir Dolphin
Connection Marriage Certificate.
The bride and
groom wear wet suits but can bring accessories such as a short
veil, bow tie, top hat and bouquets.
exchange vows on land can purchase a private photo session with the
dolphins for $1,500, including a photo CD.
For more, call
(888) 814-9104 or visit www.hawkscay.com.
Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo features a new U.S.
Coast Guard-certified boat with custom-built facilities for
Encounter has a specially designed ramp that provides wheelchairs
direct, unencumbered access to the main deck from land and to rest
rooms, as well. The boat's low diving platform also makes it easier
for physically challenged snorkelers to enter and exit the
snorkelers travel free when another adult pays full fare. The same
applies to the park's equally accessible, glass-bottom boat, the
Spirit of Pennekamp.
two-and-a-half-hour snorkeling tour is $28.95 per adult; kids under
18 pay $23.95. Masks, fins and snorkels are an additional $2 each.
Glass-bottom boat tours are $22 for adults and $15 for children
under 12. Call (305) 451-6300 or visit www.pennekamppark.com.
The Key West
Attractions Association has launched a Twice the Fun, Half the
Price promotion at its most popular attractions through Oct.
offers two-for-one admission coupons to the Harry S. Truman Little
White House, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, the Key West Butterfly
and Nature Conservatory, the Pat Croce Pirate Soul Museum, the Key
West Shipwreck Historeum and Ripley's Believe It or Not.
A new exhibit,
"In Their Own Words: The History of Key West," opened at the Key
West Museum of Art and History. Among the highlights are receipts
for fishermen's foul-weather gear, yellowed death certificates and
oral histories recorded by residents.
include a three-dimensional diorama representing a bird's-eye view
of Key West as it was in the 1850s.
For more, visit
Key West's Mel
Fisher Maritime Museum launched "La Plata del Mar: Silver of the
1622 Galleons," an exhibition of silver and other riches from the
Nuestra Senora de Atocha and Santa Margarita shipwrecks off the
coast of Key West during a 1622 storm.
The exhibit kicks
off a series of "silver anniversary" events marking the 25th
anniversary of the founding of the not-for-profit Mel Fisher
Maritime Heritage Society that operates the museum. Other
activities will include a lecture series. Visit www.melfisher.org.
The Hilton Key
West Resort & Marina became the Westin Key West Resort &
Marina on Aug. 1. The affiliation applies to the resort's 178 guest
rooms as well as to its 37 Sunset Key Guest Cottages, which are
situated on a private island 500 yards offshore in Key West
Located on the
waterfront just one block from Duval Street and Mallory Square, the
"new" Westin features a full-service 36-slip marina, a heated pool
and more than 16,000 square feet of meetings space. Call (800)
598-1864 or visit www.westin.com.
US Airways kicks
off service between Orlando and Key West on Sept. 6. Plans call for
regional partner Republic Airways to operate the route aboard
72-passenger Embraer 170 jets.
company TransFloridian has a new Key West boarding and
disembarkation location: the Doubletree Grand Key Resort. The
company is operating three daily departures from the Doubletree to
other points in the Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Other pick-up
and drop-off locations in the Keys include Marathon, Islamorada and
Key Largo. Call (877) 246-4786 or visit www.transfloridian.com.
boat ride from Marathon lies Seabird Key, a 10-acre, private island
retreat with an "Old Florida" beach house featuring expansive decks
and porches, cathedral ceilings and a spiral staircase. A private
sandy beach is a major selling point.
Marketed as an
ecotourism getaway, Seabird Key features a solar energy system that
provides power for all electrical needs, except air conditioning,
which the beach house lacks. A 20,000-gallon cistern collects fresh
Weekly rates, for
stays Saturday to Saturday, are $4,995 for up to four guests from
July to mid-December; additional guests are $375 per person. Call
(305) 669-0044 or visit www.seabirdkey.com.
Braza Lena is a
new Brazilian steakhouse in the main building at Whale Harbor. The
restaurant features traditionally dressed servers circulating
around a dining room decorated with
abstract art. Servers offer carved meats such as garlic-topped
sirloin, roasted leg of lamb and Brazilian sausage.
dishes and desserts and a large selection of wines round out the
experience. A prix-fixe dinner is $39.95. For reservations, call
Islamorada restaurant news, the owners of Bob's Bunz, famous for
pastry chef Robert Spencer's sticky buns and pastries, opened Bob's
Bunz Too, a family-style restaurant at Mile Marker 81.5,
fried chicken, beef stew and fried catfish with black bean salsa.
Bob's Bunz signature pastries are on the menu.
Dinner is served
daily from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For reservations, call (305)
To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].