Just thinking about booking an excursion to the Florida Keys gets me all jazzed up! I'll be honest; it's taken me 15 years of traveling to the Keys to figure out how to do it just right. It has been a challenge to find both the right upscale resort and a captain who's willing to share his secret fishing holes, but now that I've got it all down, I'm going to take you on an adventure that will make your trip to the Florida Keys a memorable experience.
When I got the unexpected invitation, the thought of drinking cold Margaritas while listening to live music and dining al fresco at my favorite restaurant after a perfect day of fishing was enough to seal the deal. And so, I'm off to Islamorada to stay at the world famous Cheeca Lodge. It doesn't get any better than this in the Florida Keys.
The view from the terrace was spectacular! It only took a few minutes before I was enveloped by the laid-back surroundings. Relaxation was mine at last. I especially looked forward to meeting my Cheeca hosts and fellow travel writers at dinner. The Ocean Terrace Grill created a beautiful dining experience on the beach and as we were being seated, we saw that there was a wedding underway on the Cheeca Pier. It's a delightful setting and if you're planning for that big day, then you just might want to consider Cheeca for your destination. At the buffet-style dinner, we dined on Florida lobster tails and fresh dorado, served with a medley of fresh vegetables. It was a good, casual meal and I met some new friends.
The next morning, we were scheduled for a 30-minute tour of the resort and then planned on spending the remainder of the afternoon flats fishing. Aware of these plans, I made it an early night. The beds were as comfortable as Cheeca's website claimed. I slept like a rock. In the morning, I worked out at the well-equipped spa. Then, it was time for breakfast out by the pool, which consisted of a healthy egg-white omelet with fresh raspberries and coffee.
The best part of the resort tour was the Beach Bungalows. I stayed in one in 2001 and they have since been upgraded to the highest standards. I especially liked the marble bathrooms and the ultra modern shower and soaking tub. The private views of the ocean were simply amazing. Although the George Bush Presidential Retreat was not part of the tour, I was able to sneak a quick peek and surprisingly, it's actually functional. President Bush frequents the Cheeca Lodge to host the annual George Bush-Cheeca Lodge Bonefish Tournament. The suite is decorated in a simple Floridian decor and has scores of personal presidential memorabilia adorning the walls. We ended the tour of the property with a history lesson of interest. Situated on the beach at Cheeca Lodge is a cemetery that provides the final resting place for the first Islamorada area pioneers. A statue of an angel with a broken wing, washed away during the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, still stands proudly where she belongs.
Most importantly, tell your captain what your expectations are before you even leave the dock. Personally, I prefer the ....