Insider’s Guide to Islamorada

Nestled toward the top of the Florida Keys lies Islamorada, a sport-fishing hotspot with a lot to offer in and out of the water. Named “purple isle” by its first inhabitants, Islamorada is undeniably captivating. A narrow spit of land surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with marine life, this key embraces the harmony between man & nature. Let us be your guide to properly embrace the island lifestyle that Islamorada has to offer.

Where to Stay

Setting the standard for luxury amongst Islamorada hotels, Cheeca Lodge offers endless relaxation and embraces the laid-back lifestyle of the surrounding area. With 27 lush tropical acres, Tahitian-style lagoon and waterfall, private 1,100-foot palm-fringed beach, 525-foot classic wooden fishing pier, beachfront Tiki bar, two pools, a 9-hole golf course, and a full line of land-based and watersports, Cheeca Lodge and Spa is the dream destination for your Islamorada vacation.

What to Do

Located in the Sportfishing Capital of the World, Cheeca Lodge is a premier destination for serious anglers. Charter a boat and find over 500 species of fish within minutes from shore. A host of other activities can be found at our Islamorada luxury resort, including snorkeling, sea kayaking, bicycling, and scuba diving.

Where to Eat Known for its upscale dining in a laid-back island setting, Chef Michael’s is a hit among the locals of Islamorada. Try Chef Michael’s delectable hogfish or the signature catch of the day. Looking for a beachfront setting to enjoy your meal? The Morada Beach Café offers light Mediterranean fare featuring an island-inspired menu of seafood and craft cocktails. Or opt for the best sushi and Japanese cuisine that Islamorada has to offer at Nikai Sushi Bar & Restaurant.  

Walk This Way: Third Thursday ArtWalks

The Florida Keys has earned a reputation as an art-centric region where painters, writers, sculptors, and creative minds in every medium find endless inspiration in our radiant sun and soothing surf. But while plenty of people are aware with Key West’s vibrant art scene, many visitors are less familiar with all that Islamorada has to offer. Trust us, culture vultures: At Cheeca, you’re just steps away from many opportunities to view fantastic pieces produced by some of the Sunshine State’s most talented artists — and maybe even bring something home that’s fit to frame.

And one of the best ways to explore the local art scene is through Third Thursday ArtWalks. Every month, Islamorada art galleries simultaneously open their doors to guests, inviting art lovers to take a leisurely crawl along the Arts District. The experience is equal parts indoor art fair and outdoor street festival. Many artists without galleries set up colorful booths specifically for the occasion, live musicians take the opportunity to strut their stuff, and many restaurants that line the Old Highway and adjacent streets get in on the fun too. (No reason an art crawl can’t double as a food crawl too.) ArtWalk dates through the rest of the year are: September 17, October 15, November 19 and December 17.

Want to get walking? First, get clicking. More details on Third Thursday ArtWalks are at moradaway.org.  

Brewing Something Special at Islamorada Beer Company

With those warm breezes and killer sunsets, Florida Keys weather usually comes with a 50% chance of fruity cocktails. (The better to grow your mini-umbrella collection.)

But the other half of the time, it’s a cold beer we crave to slake our thirst. Don’t turn up your nose: We’re not talking about those watery, mass-market suds that give “beer” a bad name. Craft brewers around the country are leading a malts- and hops-fueled renaissance that highlights how excellent (and varied) well-made beer really is. And at Cheeca, we’re lucky enough to have one of the best craft brewers as a neighbor: Islamorada Beer Company.

Islamorada Beer Company’s brewery and tasting room is less than one mile away from the resort, so it’s a popular destination for guests who want to learn about how beer is made — and, more importantly, sample the fruits of the brewery’s labor. (For scientific research purposes, of course.) But because we love to support our local producers — and we happen to love great beer — Cheeca also keeps our bars stocked with Islamorada Beer Company brews too. In fact, we thought we’d offer this handy guide to some of the brewery’s signature styles, alongside food pairing ideas from Cheeca restaurants that will help you get maximum enjoyment out of every sip.

SANDBAR SUNDAY

This signature wheat ale (named for a famous nearby boozing spot) is a local legend, and you’ll find most like to garnish it with a slice of Key lime. (You know, the way you’d drop in a lemon to a Corona.) It’s an amber beer, light and crisp with only slight spice and a hint of citrus. It’s refreshing and very easy to drink. Ahem, very. Pair it with: Sandbar Sunday goes great with fresh, light seafood, so sip some while noshing on a pound of Key West Peel & Eat Shrimp at our oceanfront Tiki Bar.

ISLAMORADA ALE

The hops and citrus flavor get kicked up a notch with the Islamorada Ale, a blonde that skews a little sweet. The natural citrus notes make this a must-drink on especially hot days. It’s a sweat-saver. Pair it with: The slight sweetness nicely complements spicier foods, like the stuffed taz sashimi (salmon and spicy scallops with pickled red onion and jalapeno masago) at Cheeca’s Nikai Sushi Bar. (If you’re not already sipping from our sake selection, that is.)

CHANNEL MARKER IPA SUNDAY

India Pale Ales can be intimidating to beer drinks that aren’t used to hoppy styles, but Islamorada’s Channel Marker will be a pretty good entry point to IPAs. The malts and hops are well balanced and not overpowering, simple and straightforward with a faint herbal quality. It’s complex but pleasant. Pair it with: This deserves something with equally thoughtful, refined flavor. We vote for the local snapper a la plancha (with sweet plantain puree and a citrus coriander sauce) in Cheeca’s picturesque Atlantic’s Edge restaurant.

NO WAKE ZONE

For something with a bit of body, Islamorada’s No Wake Zone is where you want to land. This brown ale has bold malt and flavors of roasted caramel. It’s smooth — not too heavy — but definitely for beer lovers who don’t balk at a fuller style. Pair it with: Hearty and meat-driven dishes go well, like the filleto (seared beef tenderloin with salsa olivas) at Cheeca’s family-style Italian restaurant, Limoncello.

“BLOODLINE” Fans: Here’s Your Guide to Fantastic Filming Locations to Visit

Are you ready for your close-up, Florida Keys?

In case you’ve been living under a rock — or more likely, a fishing dock — the Netflix thriller “Bloodline” is one of the hottest new series on (Internet) TV. And we’re not just talking about the balmy Florida weather that serves as the show’s backdrop (you can practically feel those warm tropical breezes through the screen.) “Bloodline” is a sensation, and its setting in the Upper Keys has offered viewers around the world a front-row seat to see the gorgeous landscape that our nook of the Sunshine State has to offer.

So it’s not surprising that some of our most recent guests — and “Bloodline” fans — are hoping to see some of the locations that have been featured on the show. Well, ask and ye shall receive. Until Netflix starts offering “Star Tours” of filming locations, here is a handy guide to a few “Bloodline” related spots worth a visit.

Cheeca Lodge and Spa: Yes, it’s true! If you’re staying with us, you’re staying at one of the filming locations for “Bloodline.” Oscar-winning star Sissy Spacek dined on fine cuisine at our restaurant Atlantic’s Edge during a May episode — and this isn’t the first time Cheeca has been a hit on the small screen. Wedding planners may want to note that Cheeca was spotlighted in the show “Platinum Weddings,” chronicling lavish and gorgeous celebrations. (Guess they heard about our reputation for impeccable wedding services.)

Alabama Jack’s: In the first episode of “Bloodline,” John’s brother Danny (actor Ben Mendelsohn) is dining at a casual waterfront seafood spot. Spoiler: It’s actually Alabama Jack’s in Key Largo. And though Danny is seen downing fish tacos, the eatery is actually most famous for its conch fritters.

Anne’s Beach: Named for Florida environmentalist Anne Eaton, this Islamorada beach is a must-visit because its shallow waters ensure a warm, wave-free setting for swimming and sunning. (It’s also good training ground for novice kiteboarders.)

Caribbean Club: This throwback bar is where many of the characters in “Bloodline” are seen tossing back beers and playing billiards. It’s a classic Keys joint for stiff cocktails and fun nightlife, and it most famously served as inspiration (and exterior shots) for the 1948 Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall film “Key Largo.” (Don’t miss the back deck with its killer sunset views.)

Long Key State Park: If you’re not yet caught up on the series, we won’t spoil what important scene takes place here. But the 965-acre mangrove- and mahogany- filled park is an absolute must-visit for TV fans and nature lovers alike. Bring a picnic and do some wildlife spotting on the nature trails. Then snorkel, swim, or canoe, whether you’re spending an afternoon or pitching a tent for a full overnight.

The Moorings Village and Spa: In reality, it’s a two-story plantation house and hotel. On “Bloodline,” it’s the Rayburn House, a family-owned inn that features much of the show’s action. And guess what — they’re our neighbors! We totally understand if you want to grab lunch at their seaside Beach Café before coming home (sweet home!) to our lush gardens and swimming pools. Hey, we’re “Bloodline” fans too!

Robbie’s of Islamorada: If you’re looking to book a boat rental, take a snorkeling or Jet ski, excursion or even hit the high seas on a chartered island tour or sunset cruise, visit Robbie’s. This unique, multi-service destination has seen its boats and docks featured in “Bloodline.” And while you’re scoping the scene, you can also chow down at its on-site eatery, Hungry Tarpon Restaurant. (Afterwards, turn the tables and hand-feed a tarpon yourself!)