Stay Fit (and Have Fun) with These Vacation Workouts

Travel and fitness don’t always feel like the perfect pair; however, at Cheeca, the two go hand-in-hand. In addition to independent activities, our resort offers a variety of guided on-site classes, making it easy to stay fit (and have fun) while you’re away from home.

Paddle Board Yoga

For a challenging and unique yoga experience, take to the water on a stand up paddleboard (SUP). Every Friday evening and Sunday morning, we offer hour-long SUP yoga classes that welcome both beginners and seasoned yogis alike. It’s a great opportunity to practice yoga poses while enjoying the relaxing sound and motion of the ocean.

Adult Tennis Clinics

Our resort also features several adult tennis clinics throughout the week. Our half-hour beginner’s clinics are complimentary for guests on Tuesday mornings, while our more advanced clinics on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings are $25 per attendee. Feeling a competitive? Join our tennis round robin on Tuesday and Saturday mornings at 10am.

Total Body Toning

Offering a classic workout experience, our Total Body Toning classes are held every day except Friday and are a great way to break a sweat. Head to our Fitness Studio and jumpstart your day with an invigorating session from 9 to 10am, led by a certified instructor. Our facility also features the latest equipment from Life Fitness.

Resort SCUBA Course

If you’re in the mood for something more adventurous, attend one of our hour-long resort SCUBA courses, held every Friday and Saturday morning. This class is highly recommended: The Florida Keys are home to the continental United States’ only living-coral barrier reef, and it’s certainly worth exploring.

Check our calendar of events for the most up-to-date look at the activities at our Islamorada resort.

Join us at Cheeca and enjoy these and other popular on-site offerings during your stay in the Florida Keys.

The Best Things to Do During a Key West Day Trip

Found at the southernmost point of Florida, Key West is a unique island city packed with personality. From cultural landmarks to vibrant bars and restaurants, this tropical town offers more than can be experienced in a single day—but that won’t stop us from trying. Located just under two hours from Islamorada, Key West is a great choice for a fun-filled day trip from Cheeca.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

First stop: The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum on Whitehead Street. As the former residence of legendary author Ernest Hemingway, this historic property is a must-see for book worms and cat lovers. Take a tour of the house, check out the bookstore and gift shop, and don’t forget to say hello to the 40-plus feline residents.

Location: 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040

Key West Lighthouse

Located across the street from the Hemingway House, the Key West Lighthouse (the first in Key West) offers another storied piece of local history. Visitors are welcome to explore the Lighthouse Tower and Keeper’s Quarters; notably, the first Keeper was a woman, which was considered a rarity in the 19th century.

Location: 938 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040

Blue Heaven

In the afternoon, head to Blue Heaven, a beloved neighborhood spot that specializes in Caribbean cuisine, seafood, and vegetarian dishes—a little something for everyone. We recommend dining al fresco (as long as you don’t mind the occasional rooster) and you’d be remiss not to order at least one slice of the key lime pie. 

Location: 729 Thomas Street, Key West, FL 33040

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

The family-friendly Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is truly a delight for visitors of all ages. Featuring 50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, this awe-inspiring conservatory features glass-enclosed habitats, a robust Learning Center, a gallery with original artworks, and a gift shop full of keepsakes.

Location: 1316 Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040

Duval Street

End your day in Key West with a stroll down Duval Street, which runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Shop for unique souvenirs at the locally-owned boutiques, grab a refreshing drink at your choice of eclectic bars, or simply relax at one of the beaches off this bustling commercial street.   

Location: Duval Street, Key West, FL

Plan unforgettable day trip to Key West when you stay at Cheeca in Islamorada.

The Animal Lover’s Guide to the Florida Keys

From red-shouldered hawks to six-toed cats, unique residents inhabit nearly every corner of the Florida Keys. It’s no surprise that this tropical archipelago is a favorite travel destination among animals lovers.

At Cheeca, in keeping with our commitment to eco-friendly tourism, we encourage our guests to seek out humane local organizations—such as wildlife rescues and rehabilitation centers—that allow visitors to appreciate the animals without disrupting their natural habitat. (Although, in the case of the Hemingway House cats, cuddles are encouraged.)

Learn more about our top picks for unforgettable Florida Keys animal experiences below.

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon

Located in Marathon, The Turtle Hospital first opened its doors in 1986 with a mission to “rescue, rehab, and release” injured sea turtles. This veterinary center offers guided, 90-minute educational tours that include a presentation on sea turtles, a behind-the-scenes look at the rehabilitation facilities, and an introduction to the permanent residents. Reservations are highly recommended.

Location: 2396 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida 33050

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center

Open to the public 365 days a year, the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary provides a humane, natural, and protected refuge to hindered birds. Permanent residents include Leopold the barred owl and Charlie the turkey vulture, among many others. Alongside the sanctuary, the Mission Wild Bird (MWB) center features three wings: administration, education, and an avian hospital.

Location: 92080 Overseas Highway, Tavernier, Florida 33070

National Key Deer Refuge

The 8,542-acre National Key Deer Refuge is most well-known as the home of the endangered Key Deer, unique to the lower Florida Keys and a subspecies of the White-tailed deer. However, the Key Deer share this refuge with a number of other endangered species, including the Barram’s hairstreak butterfly and the Lower Keys marsh rabbit. Stop by the Visitor Center in Big Pine Key for tips on where to observe the wildlife.

Location: 179 Key Deer Boulevard, Big Pine Key, Florida 33043

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Travel a bit further south to Key West and get acquainted with the many polydactyl (six-toed) cats that reside at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. The 40-50 cats that live on the property grounds are believed to be the descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cat, Snow White. Following a tradition started by Hemingway, each of the beloved felines is named after a famous person.

Location: 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida 33040

Ready to explore? Book your stay at Cheeca Lodge & Spa and check out these (and other) popular Florida Keys attractions.

Our Favorite Spring Events in the Florida Keys

From renowned fishing competitions to local music festivals, there’s always something special happening in the Florida Keys, and the springtime is no exception. During your stay in Islamorada, in addition to enjoying the many on-site events and activities at Cheeca Lodge & Spa, you can also check out some of our favorite nearby Florida Keys events.

37th Annual Seven Mile Bridge Run
April 14, 2018

The Seven Mile Bridge Run has attracted avid runners from Marathon, FL and beyond for nearly four decades. Capped at 1,500 participants, this annual run is sponsored by the Marathon Runners Club and is held across the longest bridge in the Florida Keys.

Location: Seven Mile Bridge, Florida

Islamorada Spring Classic
April 27-29, 2018

This Gulf-side team event sees anglers targeting a wide variety of local fish (think: tarpon, trout, snapper, and more). Awards are handed out for a variety of different achievements, from most releases to heaviest fish.

Location: Islamorada, Florida

The Key Largo Original Music Festival
May 17-20, 2018

Organized by the Upper Keys Merchant Association, this four-day festival features live and original performances across multiple stages, with appearances by songwriters and bands from around the country. Genres run the gamut from pop and rock to blues and jazz.

Location: 104450 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida 33037

Loop Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament
May 20-23, 2018

This prestigious invitational is one of the oldest tarpon tournaments in the world. It is limited to just 28 anglers, and eligible tarpon must measure at least 48 inches in length to earn release points, or weigh at least 70 pounds for weight points.

Location: Islamorada, Florida

Battle in the Bay Dragon Boat Competition
June 2, 2018

Held at Sombrero Beach, this beloved Florida Keys event hosts both local corporate and community teams, as well as competitive and club teams. After the race, participants and spectators alike enjoy a lively celebration with awards, music, and refreshments.

Location: Marathon, Florida

Florida Keys Guitar Festival’s Guitar Summit
June 15-17, 2018

Featuring guitarists David Feder, Mateo, and Rolando Rojas, the third annual Guitar Summit will be held at venues in Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West. This showcase of virtuoso musicians will cover several different styles of music, including blues, jazz, flamenco, and classical.

Various Locations

Visit Cheeca in the spring and check out these popular Upper Keys events. Or, if you prefer to stay at the resort, take advantage of our unparalleled on-site activities.

Miami to Islamorada: A Weekend Road Trip

The drive from Miami to Islamorada clocks in at just around 90 minutes, making Cheeca Lodge & Spa an ideal destination for a quick and easy weekend road trip. However, we do recommend taking your time: While the luxury accommodations at Cheeca are bound to be the highlight of your trip, there are plenty of unique sights to see along the way.

Coral Castle

If roadside attractions pique your interest, be sure to check out the mysterious Coral Castle. Built by Edward Leedskalnin from 1923 to 1951, this unusual structure was sculpted from more than 1,000 tons of sedimentary rock. Sure, it’s not really a castle, and it’s not really made of coral, but it’s still an impressive accomplishment by Leedskalnin.

Location: 28655 S Dixie Highway, Homestead, FL 33033

Fruit and Spice Park

This kid-friendly botanical garden and park features over 500 varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Founded by Mary Heinlein and funded in part by Preston B. Bird, this park offers guided tours every day at 11am, 1:30pm, and 3pm. As a visitor, you’re welcome to taste the fallen fruit along the way—as long as you can identify it.

Location: 24801 SW 187th Ave, Homestead, FL 33031

Knaus Berry Farm

Open seasonally November through mid-April, Knaus Berry Farm is a great spot to pick up a snack during your drive. Unsurprisingly, the berries are a hot item; however, this classic farm stand and homestyle bakery also offers a tempting selection of baked goods, ice cream, and other tasty treats.

Location: 15980 SW 248th Street, Homestead, FL 33031

John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park

Located in Key Largo, this Florida State Park and the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary include approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove swamps. Guided snorkeling and scuba tours are available, or you can discover the depths while taking a ride on a high-speed, glass-bottom catamaran.

Location: 102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen

This local favorite in Key Largo is the perfect place to fill up on an expansive selection of classic American and fresh seafood dishes, including cheeseburgers, fried oysters, and more. Plus, if Knaus Berry Farm wasn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, Mrs. Mac’s Famous Key Lime Pie ought to do the trick.

Location: 99336 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037

Spiegel Grove

In 2002, the USS Spiegel Grove Thomaston-class dock landing ship was intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef, six miles off the coast of Key Largo. Divers from around the world travel to this underwater destination for a unique experience—there’s something new to see every time at this massive, 510-foot-long shipwreck.

Location: Near Key Largo, FL

Ready for your road trip? Book your stay at Cheeca and discover these and other Florida Keys attractions before you arrive.

The Top 5 Things to Do in Islamorada—in a Day

The tropical islands of the Florida Keys stretch for about 120 miles, offering limitless attractions and activities. And within this greater archipelago, the village of Islamorada features its fair share of things to see and do. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve put together a suggested itinerary for enjoying some of the best things to do in Islamorada—in a single day.

Tip: Take advantage of the shuttle service provided by Cheeca Lodge & Spa, which provides transportation to attractions within a 2-mile radius.

8am – Breakfast at Atlantic’s Edge

Start your day of exploration with a fresh and satisfying breakfast spread from Cheeca’s flagship restaurant, Atlantic’s Edge. Take your pick from our Island Continental Buffet or choose from delicious hot dishes, such as buttermilk pancakes, three-egg omelets, and more.

10am – Tour the History of Diving Museum

After breakfast, you can head to the History of Diving Museum to learn about the evolution of deep sea exploration. Open daily from 10am to 5pm, this small-but-mighty museum offers a fun, hands-on educational experience, including both permanent and featured exhibitions. Don’t miss the helmet photo op in the Aquarium.

12pm – Visit Betsy the Lobster

Next, meet Betsy, a top contender for largest lobster in the world. Paying a visit to this eye-catching roadside attraction is one of the more unique things to do in Islamorada. As a representative of native wildlife, this massive spiny lobster is difficult to miss as she stands guard outside The Rain Barrel Artisan Village. Seeking souvenirs? Be sure to check out the village shops.

1pm – Lunch at Islamorada Shrimp Shack

Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy a casual lunch at Islamorada’s Shrimp Shack. This family-owned local hangout serves a menu of fried seafood staples alongside some more adventurous selections, like gator and conch.  

2pm – Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina

After lunch, drive down to Robbie’s Marina and marvel at a school of more than 100 tarpons that stop by the dock on a daily basis.These air-breathing silver giants are truly a sight to behold—plus, you can take it a step further and feed them. Admission to the dock is just $2, while a bucket of fish is $3.

4pm – Sample Beers at Florida Keys Brewing Company

Wind down the afternoon with a stop at the Florida Keys Brewing Company, known as the first Upper Keys microbrewery. Open daily, this quirky tasting room features local artwork and pours year-round and seasonal beers by the pint, flight, or growler. (Note: If you happen to be traveling with your four-legged friend, this dog-friendly brewery is a great option.)

6pm – Dinner at Nikai

At the end of the day, head back to Cheeca and enjoy dinner at Nikai, offering the freshest sushi in Islamorada right at the resort. Indulge in over 20 different rolls and sashimis, and over 35 different types of hot and cold sake to complement your meal. Plus, take in the breathtaking views of the ocean at night from the rooftop deck.

Of course, these are just a few of our favorite things to do in Islamorada. See them all, or chart your own course. Looking for more? Check out some of the resort activities offered at Cheeca, including golf and tennis.

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!

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.