The Beginner’s Guide to SCUBA Diving

For SCUBA diving beginners, there’s perhaps no better place to take the first plunge than the Florida Keys, home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America. Our 120-mile island chain offers access to some of the most renowned diving sites in the world with diverse marine life, awe-inspiring shipwrecks, and other ocean oddities.

Practice makes perfect: Before embarking on your first dive, sign up for an introductory pool course with a certified instructor. It takes time and patience to get used to breathing through a regulator and wearing the necessary gear. Cheeca offers hour-long SCUBA classes on Friday and Saturday mornings; check our Calendar of Events for more information. Once you’ve completed the course, it’s time to take to the open water!

Many popular dive sites can be found right off the coast of Islamorada. Located close to shore, Cheeca Rocks is great for novice divers and an ideal option for family outings in particular. Davis Reef is another easy-to-navigate site, complete with a photogenic underwater buddha. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can head to Alligator Reef Lighthouse and say hello to the locals (e.g., spiny lobsters, barracuda, et al.). Meanwhile, shipwrecks like the Eagle or El Capitan tend to attract more experienced divers.

If you want to ease your way into the world of underwater exploration, we recommend snorkeling. You’ll still be able to admire our beautiful reefs—but a bit closer to the water’s surface. Cheeca offers daily two-hour excursions with snorkel gear, wetsuits, and nonalcoholic beverages included.

Learn more about the watersports and aquatic activities offered at Cheeca Lodge & Spa.

The Best Time to Visit the Florida Keys

Wondering when to pack your bags for the Florida Keys? That all depends: There are plenty of reasons to visit our beautiful island community throughout the year. Whether you plan on a low-key fall getaway or a fun-filled spring break, you’re sure to have a memorable stay whenever you visit.

Fall

Starting in September, island life becomes even more relaxed—yes, it’s possible—making the fall a perfect time for a relaxing couples retreat or a weekend trip with friends. The most serene season in the Keys brings with it beautiful weather, quieter crowds, and some of the best rates at Cheeca. Plus, if you’re looking for a bit of excitement, you can plan your stay during Key West’s annual Fantasy Fest.

Winter

It’s the high season for a reason. Once January rolls around, residents of colder climates are craving sun and sand, and the Florida Keys offers both in abundance. As the ideal spot for a post-holiday vacation, the Keys feature pleasant winter weather with little rain and comfortable temperatures. Stay at Cheeca and discover a picture-perfect oasis from which to soak up the scenery.

Spring

Spring break brings warmer temperatures, special island events, and an added buzz of excitement. If you’re worried about college crowds, fear not: Here in the Upper Keys, we offer a more family-friendly atmosphere. As a premier resort in Islamorada, Cheeca invites guests of all ages to partake in our many on-site offerings, including golfing, beach volleyball, watersports, and much more.

Summer

The summer months mark the start of the off-peak season in the Florida Keys. However, while the crowds start to thin out, there are still plenty of local activities and attractions to be enjoyed. If you’re a Florida resident, you can escape to the islands and delight in slightly cooler temperatures. And, if you stay at Cheeca, you can add luxury accommodations, delicious dining, and on-site entertainment to the mix.

No matter when you choose to visit, you can enjoy the best of the Florida Keys throughout the year at Cheeca Lodge & Spa.

4 Tips for Planning Your Florida Keys Wedding

First and foremost: Congratulations on your engagement!

If you’ve decided on a beach wedding, we like the way you think. Offering beautiful weather and ocean backdrops, our vibrant island community is the ideal choice for a destination wedding. And at Cheeca Lodge & Spa, we are proud to be the full-service venue of choice for elegant ceremonies and receptions in Islamorada, FL.

Wondering where to begin? Below we’ve shared four tips to help you start planning your Florida Keys wedding.

1.) Timing is Everything

It’s important to keep in mind that a destination wedding requires some advanced planning for both you and your guests. For example, save-the-dates should be in the mail a bit earlier than a local wedding (think: 10 to 12 months ahead of time) to make it possible for your nearest and dearest to schedule PTO, book transportation, and make other travel arrangements.

2.) The Site Visit

We recommend visiting Cheeca before your big day—consider it a “venue vacation.” Take time to sit down with our dedicated on-site coordinators and discuss your vision, and set up meetings with our some of our preferred Florida Keys wedding vendors. We’re happy to refer the best local entertainers, hair stylists and makeup artists, photographers and videographers, and more.

3) The Wedding Planner

Enlist the help of a full-service wedding planner or day-of coordinator for added peace of mind. The expert planners and coordinators at Cheeca offer diverse, personalized services that ensure a seamless experience for you and your guests. These services may include securing outside vendors, providing event timelines, overseeing design and the placement of decor, and more.

4.) Enjoy Yourself!

Remember why you chose an island wedding in the first place, and make sure to schedule time to soak up the relaxing Florida Keys atmosphere and our on-site amenities. In addition to stunning event spaces, Cheeca offers luxurious accommodations, world-class dining, nearby adventures and activities, and a 5,700-square-foot spa.

Learn more about Florida Keys weddings at Cheeca Lodge & Spa, and submit a request for proposal today.

The Return of a Cheeca Legend: Bruce Graham, Head of Bell Staff

Cheeca Lodge & Spa is proud to be one of the best resorts in the Florida Keys, offering unparalleled luxury experiences that keep our guests returning to Islamorada each year. In addition to premium amenities, we believe it’s the familiar faces of our dedicated team that make Cheeca beloved by generation after generation.

Recently, we sat down with our returning Head of Bell Staff, Bruce Graham, who has been part of the Cheeca family for over a decade. Read on to learn about how Bruce started his career in hospitality, his favorite part of working at Cheeca, and more.

How long have you been at Cheeca?

Eleven years. This was actually my first hospitality job—I was previously senior customer service agent for Fedex in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  

What made you return after the hurricane and your move to Chicago?

After Hurricane Irma I moved to Chicago to be near family, but the love for my Cheeca team and guests brought me home to Cheeca.

What inspired you to pursue a career in this industry?  

When I moved to South Florida from Montego Bay, Jamaica, I wanted to use my customer service background, and hospitality seemed like a great fit. Cheeca was actually presented to me by a staffing agency and I first arrived on an H2B visa. Once I obtained my US citizenship, it was a natural next step to become a permanent team member at Cheeca.

Can you explain your day-to-day responsibilities at Cheeca?  

Upon my return from Chicago, I was able to step back into the Bell Captain role. My day-to-day role entails overseeing the bell staff. My team is responsible for greeting all arriving guests and creating a first impression. During our guests’ stay, my team and I strive to provide a memorable experience which includes not only assisting with vehicles and luggage on check-in and checkout, but making recommendations and providing transportation to different area restaurants and attractions, and most importantly striking up conversations and making sure our guests are having a great time during their stay.

What kind of experience do you hope to craft for your guests, and what makes it stand out from what they experience at other resorts?

At Cheeca, we provide a luxury product, but our service is genuine and heartfelt, not stuffy. We recognize our guests by their names—this makes them feel special and welcome. Returning guests feel like they are coming home. You don’t get the same feeling at other resorts in the Keys or elsewhere.

What is your favorite part of working at Cheeca?

My favorite part of working at Cheeca is the one-on-one interaction with my guests. I have developed many friendships with returning guests over the years, have learned their personal stories, have seen their children grow—and they have gotten to know my story as well. It’s very rewarding to me.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?

Reading, swimming, and visiting my home and loved ones in Jamaica.

Get to know Bruce and the other members of our team when you stay at Cheeca Lodge & Spa. Book today!

The Best Summertime Drinks at Our Islamorada Tiki Bar

‘Tis the season for tropical drinks.

Granted, we’re blessed with beautiful Florida Keys weather year round, so it’s almost always a good time for a cool and refreshing beverage. However, we believe that the island’s warmest months bring on even stronger cravings for cocktails from our favorite tiki bar in Islamorada: The Tiki Bar at Cheeca Lodge & Spa.

Whether you prefer sweet or spicy, on-the-rocks or frozen, you can enjoy some of the best summertime drinks from our welcoming open-air bar.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with our Blueberry Mojito (Stoli Blueberry, Fresh Mint, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Fresh Blueberries), a traditional Cuban highball with a fruity twist.

The Island Old Fashioned (Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year Rum, Cardamom Bitters, Turbinado Syrup, Club Soda, Orange Garnish, Luxardo Cherries) is our island-inspired update to Don Draper’s drink of choice.

If you like to keep things spicy, try the Hot Chili (Stoli Razberi, Triple Sec, Cranberry, Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Fresh Serrano Chili). As its name suggests, this cocktail gets its bite from the fresh serrano chilis.

In the mood for a classic frozen drink? You can’t go wrong with our perennially popular Pina Colada (Rum With Coconut, Pineapple, Dark Rum Drizzle)—poured into a cold glass and served with ocean views.

Finally, the frosty Mudslide (Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys, Crème De Cacao) is like liquid dessert. With a vodka kick.

For those seeking alcohol-free alternatives, we also serve crowd-pleasing Mocktails, including the No-jito (Fresh Lime, Mint And Soda) and the Un-bellini (Peach Puree And Club Soda). Or you can take your pick from our satisfying selection of fresh blended juices and smoothies.

No matter which beverage you choose, we highly recommend enjoying it alongside our menu of tempting beach bites. (Imagine: Conch Fritter Fries, Lobster Grilled Cheese, and Key Lime Pie.)

Enjoy the Tiki Bar and other on-site restaurants in Islamorada when you stay at Cheeca Lodge & Spa in the Florida Keys.

The Top 5 Treatments for Summer at Our Islamorada Spa

Summer often means increased exposure to sun, sand, and surf, a combination that calls for a rejuvenating treatment (or two) from The Spa at Cheeca Lodge. Our lush 27-acre oasis features a heated lap pool, cabanas with butler service, and other premium amenities. It’s the perfect place to slip away to for a little self-care, especially when the rest of the family is off enjoying our many on-site activities.

Treat yourself to the ultimate island indulgence with the top five treatments for summer at our Islamorada spa.

1.) Summer Breeze

The Summer Breeze massage is inspired by classic, stress-relieving Swedish techniques and uses light rhythmic pressure. This blissful service is enhanced with relaxation stretching.

2.) Barefoot Elegance Massage

With endless summer activities, your feet may be in need of a little extra love. Opt for our Barefoot Elegance Massage, which not only soothes tired feet, but promotes healing and relieves stress in other parts of the body.

3.) Ocean Cocoon Body Treatment

The perfect companion to a day at the beach, this refreshing treatment embodies the essence of the ocean with a full-body, salts of the earth scrub, followed by a soothing white algae body mask. The accompanying natural seaweed gel adds an ample dose of moisture.

4.) Vitamin Sea Facial

This seasonal facial is packed with vitamins and, like the Ocean Cocoon Body Treatment, it includes the added benefit of seaweed-based products that hydrate, replenish, and repair skin.

5.) Pick Me Up Facial

This quickie facial is the perfect choice for those with a busy summer schedule. It’s light yet effective, and designed for all skin types. Plus, it only takes 25 minutes.

In addition to our luxurious treatments, we recommend taking advantage of our unique selection of spa refreshments. Make your service even more special with a bottle of bubbly or a sparkling wine split, and satisfy cravings with a cheese course or tropical fruit plate. And be sure not to skip our extra sweet local favorite: the key lime tart.

Learn more about our Florida Keys spa and submit a request for summer spa services today.

The Cheeca Guide to a Kid-Friendly Florida Keys Vacation

School’s out in Florida, meaning it’s officially time to start enjoying the summer as a family. If you haven’t yet made plans for the season, we recommend planning a fun and kid-friendly Florida Keys vacation at Cheeca.

Spacious Accommodations

The spacious rooms and suites at Cheeca are perfect for a family vacation. Featuring classic West Indies style decor, these accommodations offer a quintessential island experience. Kids and adults alike can relax, unwind, and take advantage of an abundance of luxurious in-room amenities.

Family-Friendly Dining

With a variety of on-site dining concepts, there’s truly something for everyone at Cheeca. Delight in the tropically-inspired cuisine at our flagship restaurant, Atlantic’s Edge; transport your family to Naples, Italy at Mia Cucina; sample sushi in an oceanfront setting at the new Nikai Sushi Bar & Restaurant; or keep it casual at our welcoming Tiki Bar.

Camp Cheeca

As one of the more unique resort offerings in the Florida Keys, Camp Cheeca features entertaining and educational programming. Available Monday through Saturday, in full or half-day sessions, the camp includes a number of activities for ages 5-12. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, lagoon swimming, beach exploration, and much more.

On-Site Activities for All Ages

In addition to Camp Cheeca, there are a number of on-site activities that appeal to all ages, like saltwater fishing, beach volleyball, and shuffleboard. Meanwhile, our full-service watersports facility offers snorkel trips, parasailing, guided jet ski tours, and more. Rentals and lessons are available daily.

Book your stay at Cheeca Lodge & Spa today and treat your family to an unforgettable, kid-friendly Florida Keys vacation.