Florida Keys Family Vacation Planning 101

Planning an unforgettable Florida Keys family vacation—one that will delight all ages—is easier than you may think. It all hinges on finding that just-right combination of family-friendly, kid-friendly, and adult-friendly activities. At Cheeca, we make it easy to plan your stay by offering spacious guest accommodations, three dining options, and plenty of experiences to satisfy everyone in your family.

Learn more about the abundance of on- and off-site offerings at our Florida Keys resort below.

  • Fun for Everyone: From snorkeling tours to Hobie Cat sailing to fishing excursions, the whole family can embark on a variety of outdoor adventures in Islamorada, also known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World. Beach cruiser, paddle board, and sea kayak rentals are also available at the resort. For a more low-key, relaxing afternoon, unwind by our two heated swimming pools and saltwater lagoon, or set up camp along our beautiful, 1,100-foot palm-lined beach.

  • Just for Kids: Our environmentally-focused Camp Cheeca offers a rotating daily schedule of activities that are both fun and educational. Available for children ages 5 to 12, this on-site program is offered Monday through Saturday, with both full-day and half-day options. Plus, a special four-hour Kids Night Out is offered on Friday and Saturday (great for date night). In addition to our camp, kids will also enjoy our game room, Xbox arcade, DVD rental library, and “Take One, Share One” book collection.

  • Especially for Parents: While the kids are at camp, adults are free to enjoy a little R&R at Cheeca Spa. As the premier Florida Keys spa, this tranquil oasis provides indulgent treatments, a fitness center, a heated lap pool with butler service, and more. Adults can also head to our sea-side, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course for a challenging round of golf, or grab a tropical cocktail and unwind at our open air Tiki Bar.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your time at our family resort in the Florida Keys, we recommend planning early. With our exclusive Paradise on Sale offer, you can enjoy up to 15% off when you book your Islamorada vacation at least 7 days in advance.

Cheeca Goes Green: Discover Our Eco-Friendly Florida Keys Resort

The Florida Keys are one of the most pristine and environmentally sensitive regions in the world. The tropical climate, living coral reefs and vast array of marine life are precisely the reasons why tourism is the biggest industry in the Keys.

Cheeca Lodge is dedicated to becoming the eco-friendliest resort in the Keys. As a steward of our environment, we have launched a number of programs to make our resort more environmentally sound:

  • Cardboard: Cheeca recycles 100% of its cardboard, which has reduced garbage disposal costs. According to our recycling company, Cheeca produces and recycles the most cardboard in Islamorada.
  • Glass: Cheeca also recycles its glass.
  • Water: Cheeca’s wastewater treatment plant recycles 31,000 gallons of water each day through a water reuse plant. This grey water is used for irrigation of the gardens and golf course. When the new lodge was built, water cisterns were added under the lodge to collect rain water from the main lodge tower roof and the air-conditioning drain lines. This water is pumped into the irrigation lake.
  • Scrap Materials. Scrap metal, wood pallets, golf cart and car batteries are recycled. Fluorescent light bulbs, small batteries, old paint and chemicals are taken to the Monroe County Landfill for recycling.
  • Cheeca Lodge does not allow jet-skis and other thrill craft in the waters surrounding the resort. They destroy sea grasses and endanger marine life. They are also a source of noise pollution.
  • Cards in rooms encourage guests to save water and detergent by giving them the option of how often they would like their sheets changed and their towels replaced.
  • Our Camp Cheeca Environmental Awareness Program for children ages 5-12 teaches campers about the fragile Florida Keys environment with a wide variety of entertaining and engaging activities.

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  • A sign at the end of the resort’s trademark fishing pier encourages “catch and release” fishing, discourages discarding fishing line and garbage into the water, explains proper fishing etiquette and instructions on who to call if an injured bird or other sea life is spotted.
  • Cheeca uses biodegradable and low-phosphate cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Our restaurants limit the use of disposable items like Styrofoam cups and plastic utensils whenever possible.
  • Cheeca Lodge supports numerous local, regional and national environmental conservation groups like the Turtle Hospital and the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, among others.

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  • The resort dims and limits the use of outside lights on the beach during turtle nesting season.
  • Cheeca is changing all lighting throughout the property to LED which consumes up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.

In our next post, we will highlight some ways you can help protect the Florida Keys’ ecosystem and wildlife on your next visit to paradise!

Captains for Kids & Purple Island Parasail Fly High at Cheeca

Orphans, autistic, and specials needs children flew high with Cheeca’s parasail company, Purple Island Parasail, while participating in Captains for Kids

On Saturday, September 10th, Cheeca participated in the first ever Captains for Kids event held in the Florida Keys.  Organized in Islamorada by Cheeca’s parasail company Purple Island Parasail, Captains for Kids started four years ago by Captain Steve Potate, a Destin parasail charter boat owner. The mission of Captains for Kids is to make a child smile by providing a free day of fun on the water for kids with special needs and illnesses.

“As soon as I heard about this event, I knew we had to help get it started here in the Keys,” said Purple Island Parasail’s owner and operator, Captain Bryan Weirich. “Some of my favorite days flying people have always been when I’ve been flying veterans or people with specials needs” he said.  “It makes me feel so proud to be able to offer a service that brings joy to people who are overcoming such adversity in their life.”

Children participating in Captains for Kids in Islamorada started their day at Cheeca with a free parasail flight, including a photo package. They then enjoyed some complementary gelato on the beach and received a gift bag full of little surprises like sunglasses and stickers. Afterwards, if the kids wanted to go fishing they were offered a free 4 hour fishing trip including tackle, gear and fish cleaning on the Captain Michael at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada, who also agreed to participate in the event with Captain Bryan.

“The entire island really pulled together to help make this work, just like they always do,” said Capt. Bryan.  Upon hearing about the event, the Captain Michael from Robbie’s Marina was happy to participate by donating the free fishing trip.  Local radio host Joey Naples helped promote the event on his weekly SUN FM “Hog Tide” and “Chochtails” radio shows, the Islamorada and the Marathon Chamber of Commerce shared the event on their social media pages, the Keys Weekly provided free add space, and Keys Custom Tees provided the all the crew’s t-shirts at a discounted price.

In addition to Islamorada, captains from Key Largo also participated in the event. Keys Adventures operating out of the Marriot and the Big Chill in Key Largo donated their time and services. “The entire event was so much fun and really a huge success,” stated Capt. Bryan.  “Next year we are hoping it takes off all over the Keys.”

For more information on future Captains for Kids events, call 251-923-2225, visit them online at www.captainsforkids.com, or find them on Facebook.

Experience the Culture of the Florida Keys at Morada Way

The Florida Keys have always been a unique natural paradise…but did you know they’re also becoming a renowned cultural center? That’s thanks in large part to the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District in Islamorada, a thriving creative community just steps away from Cheeca Lodge & Spa that is drawing artists, musicians, and tourists of all ages to the beautiful isle.

A six-block corridor bounded by the iconic Green Turtle Inn and the Hurricane Monument, the district, which was established in 2010, is attracting more and more attention thanks in large part to its Third Thursday ArtWalks. This indoor/outdoor street festival, held throughout the year from 6-9pm on the third Thursday of the month, draws over 1,000 visitors who come to enjoy the live music, performance artists, and shops and galleries that stay open well into the night on this special evening. There’s also plenty of eating and drinking to be done as you soak up the local culture—the district is home to some of Islamorada’s best spots, including Chef Michael’s and the Florida Keys Brewing Co. Guests of Cheeca Lodge & Spa can catch a free Island Time Trolley ride right from the resort to the drop-off at Hurricane Monument.

Want to check out this exciting new Islamorada destination this fall? Cheeca is offering a range of special offers to make a vacation at Islamorada’s most legendary resort even better, including a $200 resort credit for select suites based on a minimum four-night stay.

Now is the perfect time to check out all that the Florida Keys have to offer with a getaway at Cheeca. We can’t wait to welcome you!

Spiny Lobster Sport Season Is the Perfect Opportunity to Visit Cheeca

It’s almost that time of year again for a favorite Florida Keys tradition: spiny lobster sport season! The annual event, which begins at 12:01am on Wednesday, July 27 and ends at midnight on July 28, attracts a wide array of visitors from far and wide to the Keys, where they try their hand at scooping up their fair share of these tasty ocean dwellers.

Spiny lobsters are just one of seafood specialties that the Florida Keys are famous for. Many gourmets recommend simply grilling them with butter to showcase their delicate and unique flavor—and spiny lobster sport season gives seafood enthusiasts the opportunity to take home enough lobsters for a fun-filled party for friends and family.

If you’re planning to participate in this year’s festivities, why not build a vacation around it with a stay at Cheeca Lodge & Spa? Seafood lovers can find no better getaway destination than beautiful Islamorada, which is often called the “sportfishing capital of the world” as it’s where the Gulfstream, Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay, and Gulf of Mexico converge, making it home to over 500 varieties of fish including hogfish, grouper, and cobia. If you bring back a fresh catch after a day fishing the isle’s clear blue waters, the chef at Cheeca’s celebrated seaside restaurant, Atlantic’s Edge, will prepare it in any way you like. You can even ask the chef for his recommendation on how to prepare your spiny lobster catch should you decide to join in this year’s popular event. And Cheeca is offering a range of specials that make this summer an ideal time to visit our iconic island paradise.

In Monroe County, where Cheeca is located, the bag limit for spiny lobsters is six per person per day, and a recreational saltwater license and a crawfish permit are needed for harvest. For more lobster harvesting regulations for Monroe County, you can call the Marathon Law Enforcement office at (305) 289-2320.

Every Day Is Like Earth Day at Cheeca

Cheeca’s celebration of Earth Day last month was another resounding success—and while we look forward every year to that annual party, we strive to think “green” every day at the resort. We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to conserve natural resources and protect our idyllic surroundings in the gorgeous Florida Keys. Here’s a list of some of our current eco-friendly initiatives, as well as some we have in the works:

  • WATER: Using reclaimed water for non-potable uses saves potable water for drinking. Here at Cheeca Lodge & Spa, we reuse an average of 80% of all water we purchase thanks to our own wastewater treatment plant, which processes an average of 31,000 gallons of wastewater each day—one of six reclaim facilities here in the Florida Keys. When the new lodge building was built in 2009, water cisterns were added beneath it to collect rain water from the main lodge tower roof and the air-conditioning drain lines, which is then discharged into a pond and used to irrigate the landscaping. We lobbied aggressively to keep our wastewater reclamation plant when the Village of Islamorada wanted us to use drinking water for landscape purposes—and just this past February, we were granted the right by the FDEP to keep our system. We’re also initiating programs to reduce single-use plastic water bottles—which each take approximately 450 years to decompose in the environment—by installing water bottle filling stations on property and selling reusable water bottles at our signature store. Just 20 water stations save 288,000 bottles of water, 48,000 pounds of CO2, 16,000 pounds of petroleum and 10,000 gallons of oil annually.

 

  • RECYCLING: Beyond recycling 100% of our cardboard and glass used on-site, Cheeca also recycles scrap metal along with golf cart and car batteries. Wood pallets are donated to the local community and are often used for art including frames. Fluorescent light bulbs, old paint and chemicals are taken to the Monroe County Landfill for special handling and recycling.

 

  • ENERGY: Cheeca is investing in converting to all LED lighting throughout our beautiful 27-acre property. LEDs are extremely energy-efficient and consume up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.

 

  • AMENITIES: Cheeca will feature the American-made Float Collection amenities by William Roam, some of the most environmentally sensitive products in the world that celebrate the U.S.A. through their use of American fruits, grains and other key ingredients. Its products are free of dangerous preservatives like parabens and petroleum derivatives, and its paper products are made at a plant that uses only 7% new energy. The company is also member of 1% for the Planet, a non-profit organization whose members pledge 1% of top-line revenue to environmental causes.

 

Cheeca’s eco-initiatives don’t stop there: we’re also working to earn prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and plan to provide guests with unlimited access to over 5,000 newspapers online in lieu of distributing a daily paper to every room. Watch this space for more updates!

5 Things to Do in Islamorada for a Fun Family Getaway

Islamorada is widely known as the “Sportfishing capital of the world,” but it’s also one of the most family-friendly vacation spots in the country. From one-of-a-kind parks and museums to secluded beaches, it offers something for everyone and embodies the unique, laid-back spirit of the Florida Keys.

Below are five of our favorite local attractions sure to please kids of all ages:

  • At Robbie’s Marina, you can purchase buckets of bait and feed tarpon (be prepared—they’re big!) right from the dock. State park tours or fishing and snorkeling excursions can be booked at this Islamorada institution as well, including trips to Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, accessible only by boat.
  • A trip to Theater of the Sea promises fun for the whole family. One of the oldest marine mammal facilities in the world, its lagoons and tropical gardens are home to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, sea turtles, tropical and game fish, sharks, stingrays, crocodiles, alligators, marine invertebrates, and birds. Twelve million gallons of ocean water are pumped in daily to supply water to the three-acre natural salt-water lagoons. You can choose from a variety of animal interaction activities, including swimming with dolphins, painting sea lions, or a parrot show.
  • Who doesn’t love a day at the park? Islamorada Founders Park offers forty acres of family-friendly activities with a distinct Florida flavor, including an Olympic-size pool, shallow water beach, water sports rentals, fishing jetty, a new shaded outdoor fitness park, and a new pickleball court.
  • Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about a favorite local pastime at the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum, where you’ll view one of the world’s largest collections of historic dive equipment, including dive helmets from 25 countries.
  • Often voted one of the prettiest beaches in the Keys, Anne’s Beach is a relaxing place to while away an afternoon in the sun with a picnic lunch. Lined with mangroves, the beach has picnic tables, bathroom facilities, and best of all, warm, shallow, calm waters all year round that are perfect for young children.

There’s no better place from which to explore all that Islamorada has in store than Cheeca Lodge & Spa—and our new Family Fun Package is yet another reason to come visit! Book this special offer and receive a free Children’s menu entrée with the purchase of an Adult entrée at the same meal, along with buy-one-get-one-free admission to Camp Cheeca, where kids ages 5-12 will learn about the unique natural environment of the Keys while enjoying activities including scavenger hunts and fishing off the resort’s iconic pier. We look forward to welcoming you to our island paradise soon!