You’ll find more than green eggs and ham in the Florida Keys & Key West, with lush landscapes, spectacular state parks and an ideology of conservation and appreciation for natural resources shared by most residents and encouraged upon travelers this destination is a Mecca for the eco-traveler.
Home to the continental United State’s only living coral barrier reef, Florida Keys waters are home to over 50 types of hard and soft coral and over 600 species of tropical fish. Because of its one-of-a-kind characteristics, the waters immediately surrounding the island chain encompass a protected area known as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/welcome.html).
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary includes 2,800 square nautical miles of protected waters that stretch through the Florida Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors to the Florida Keys & Key West can enjoy leisurely water activities in Florida Keys waters such as diving its world-renowned coral reefs, kayaking, dolphin watching, standup paddle boarding and more.
The island chain located at the southernmost tip of Florida is known for its scenic one road in and one road out drive down the U.S. Highway 1, better known as the Overseas Highway. Nationally recognized as an All-American Road, the Overseas Highway, has earned the highest recognition possible under the National Scenic Byways program, recognizing a roadway’s cultural, historic, natural, recreational, scenic and archeological qualities making it a making it a visitor destination in itself.
Currently under construction is the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/state/keystrail/default.htm), a locally inspired project put together to provide pedestrians and bicyclists with a scenic pathway and alternative transportation running from Key Largo to Key West. Paralleling the Overseas Highway, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail currently features more than 70 miles of trail and will eventually include 106 miles of open trail from Key Largo to Key West.
Several lodging properties in the Florida Keys have opted to participate in voluntary state and local programs to certify that their properties are environmentally responsible, with many properties taking small steps including energy-efficient light bulbs, towel and sheet-changing options, soap and shampoo dispensers, guestroom recycling baskets, food-related waste reductions and more. For a full listing of designated Green properties visit http://www.fla-keys.com/greentravel/designated-properties.cfm#CHAMP-properties.
The Florida Keys have celebrated a dedication to environmental conservation for many years and continue to do so each day by educating its citizens and visitors on the importance of the Keys unique natural environment. To learn more about taking a Green vacation in the Florida Keys & Key West visit www.fla-keys.com/greentravel.
Christina Baez, Florida Keys News Bureau