Meet some charterboat captains, artists, chefs and restaurateurs, animal rescuers, musicians and writers, historians, treasure seekers and many other locals of the Florida Keys and learn, through their stories and comments, about their lives, work, passions and reasons for loving the island chain. The insights of these creative, quirky, independent people offer a window into the environment and culture that make the Florida Keys unique. Each month a Keys local is featured in our e-newsletter, Keys Traveler.
Jeff Kesling Jr. A Canadian native and former fashion photographer, he quite literally sailed himself into a new career as a professional dive instructor, yearning for more sunshine, sea air and saltwater. Here's his story. Amy Slate: Diving Into Her Dream Entering her 31st year in the scuba diving business, Amy Slate has not lost an ounce of her undeniable enthusiasm for diving, ocean preservation or the Key Largo community she has called home since the 70s.
To meet this dedicated diver and resort owner. These days, his focus is fishing aboard his foot SeaVee "Three Rings," named for his three coaching championships. Meet the man behind Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill here. To meet the deer with a passion for angling.
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Meet Stoky and discover his recipe for success here. A former treasure salvor, Dwayne King pairs with Cindy to bring creative treasures to life in the unique gallery whose grounds include winding nature trails. At 17, Harbaugh was d to operate a single engine aircraft, but later set her sights on world records in fly fishing. Her offerings include snorkeling and sunset cruises; paddleboard, eco-tour and Everglades excursions; and island trips exploring Indian Key, Lignumvitae Key and Alligator Lighthouse.
Her passion is the ocean, but being able to view her undersea "subjects" meant facing some overwhelming fears. Pull up a stool and discover their ingredients for crafting the ideal island life here. Get to know the Upper Keys musician here. Tim Borski: 'Angling' for Artistic Satisfaction Tim Borski came to the Florida Keys inwhen he was in his early twenties, with two passions: fishing and art. What began as a simple vacation for some much-needed sun subsequently turned into a career and lifestyle in the Upper Keys.
Meet the wildlife artist and outdoorsman here. Spencer Slate: Underwater With Psycho And Friends Spencer Slate has been cultivating marine relationships for 30 year, and has developed a passion for extraordinary "friends. Meet the legendary captain here. But a near-death experience eventually changed his focus — and led him to turn his passion for sculpting into a successful career. Meet the acclaimed artist here. The 'Otherside' of Mike and Shana Walsh The average family might spend an afternoon flying a Charlie Brown-style kite, but Islamorada's Walsh family is anything but average.
Their family "kiting" afternoons are filled with extreme jumps, twists, flips and other acrobatics on the open water of the Florida Keys. Sandy Moret: On The Fly Sandy Moret has been fly fishing almost all his life, and the passion and drive he brings to teaching and advancing the sport is unequaled.
Lighthouse Larry: Replicating Florida Keys History "An Islamorada-based artist, known locally as "Lighthouse Larry," has fashioned his passion for lighthouses into creating exact scale replicas of six historical beacons off the Florida Keys. Get to know the guiding spirit behind the rapidly growing Marathon-based apiary that manages more than organic beehives around the island chain.
She created a place to explore art, teach and share, but gives back to her community in innovative ways. Born in the Keys, this entrepreneurial conch has developed a marine life experience with reef fish, invertebrates, stingrays and even sharks — and participants don't even need to enter the ocean.
Get the immersive details here. Dancing with a Star: Ganine Derleth Ganine Derleth is a professional singer and dancer, artist and co-owner with her husband of a popular dance studio in Marathon. John Schaefer: One Funny Character Marathon Community Theatre actor John Schaefer dedicates himself to characters, morphs his physical appearance for roles and memorizes lines while walking his dog and delivering mail.
Why does the year postal worker love the laughter, challenge and oneness of the Middle Keys theater troupe? Read along here. Meet the man whose dreams took flight in the Middle Keys here. Bette Zirkelbach: A Positive Force to Reckon With Bette Zirkelbach, among the guiding spirits behind Marathon's world-renowned Turtle Hospital, has helped rehabilitate scores of sea turtles — and even accompanied one on a recent journey to Las Vegas.
John Mirabella: Spearing Marathon Diners' Fresh Catch Brooklyn born but raised in Florida, John Mirabella has a formula for island living that involves a large dose of diving, spearfishing and offering his fresh catch at his Marathon eatery. What began as a journey to the Keys aboard a foot Trimaran evolved into a new life as a successful restaurateur. Meet the executive director of historic Pigeon Key, who mixes youth with a century-old yesteryear, by clicking here.
To meet this dedicated dolphin advocate. Making A Dolphin Connection With Cheryl Messenger Cheryl Messenger's work at Dolphin Connection at Hawks Cay Resort includes nurturing and caring for pregnant dolphin, monitoring the growth of their calves via monthly ultrasounds, celebrating as they give birth and watching the calves thrive and grow.
Richie Moretti: Sea Turtle Champion From working on Volkswagens to rehabilitating and releasing injured sea turtles, Richie Moretti has led a diverse and challenging life. To meet the Keys' turtle champion. To meet this outgoing woman who delights in dolphins.
And Gary Graves, owner of Keys Fisheries restaurant and manager of the fishing operation, has been with the business Experienced photographer looking for female Grassy Key it began 40 years ago. Austin Klein Showcases Culinary Talents in Lower Keys Austin Klein, the year-old executive chef at Fish, celebrating its one-year anniversary as a popular "locals' favorite" dining spot in the Lower Keys, was born to work in the kitchen.
D'Antonio's De for Multidimensional Living Susann D'Antonio's artistic offerings range from embellished gourds to mixed-media encaustic pieces to huge "living art" ensembles for Key West's Fantasy Fest celebration. Meet the multitalented D'Antonio, and find out how a yellow submarine influenced her creativity, by clicking here.
Sarah Sullivan: Living a Serene Dream in the Lower Keys With a passion for paddleboarding and degrees in psychology and environmental studies, Sarah Sullivan helps provide mental balance through nature to Lower Keys visitors seeking health, longevity and enlightenment.
Meet the founder of Serenity Eco Therapy here. For a glimpse of his world. Managing Paradise: Kevin Geanides At only 35 years old, Kevin Geanides has accomplished more in the hospitality industry than many people do throughout their entire careers. Meet the manager of luxurious Little Palm Island here.
Howard Livingston: Keys Tropical Troubador When Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24 step onstage to perform their trademark tropical rock, they bring along an unusual "instrument": a Johnson 5. Loren Rea: 'Hooked' on the Florida Keys An accomplished graphic deer and website programmer, director of two fishing tournaments and proud mother and wife, Sugarloaf Key resident Loren Rea has made a name for herself in the Florida Keys during the last 17 years. Meet the multitalented Rea here. Kim Workman: The Art of Fish Rubbing Lower Keys artist Kim Workman, skilled in the traditional Oriental art form of gyotaku or fish printing, memorializes finned Keys denizens by inking or painting actual fish and pressing paper on them to create exact replicas.
Meet the unique artist here.
Alan Maltz: Capturing the Keys' Essence in Passionate Photography SinceAlan Maltz has indulged his passion for photographing the natural wonders and beautiful eccentricities of the Florida Keys — wandering far off the beaten path with his camera to capture faces, places, lavish or tumbledown houses and hidden haunts of birds and wildlife.
To meet this master photographer. Valerie Fecher: Viewing the Keys Through a Camera Lens Nature and the water play a large role in the work of Lower Keys photographer Valerie Fecher, so she often takes off in a kayak right from her property on Big Pine to seek compelling images.
To meet the island-inspired shutterbug and longtime Keys resident. To meet the "voice of the Keys," .
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She stayed in the U. Get to know the multitalented Key Wester and find out what inspires his creativity. It took local artist JT Thompson, however, to initiate formal recognition of that philosophy of acceptance and inclusiveness. Now she le tours at her own company, Up The Keys Eco-Tours, showcasing off-the-beaten-path Lower Keys attractions to visitors and groups.
Meet the multitalented Menta and learn about his latest Keys enterprise here. Meet the high-spirited Sloan here. Rick Worth: Painting the Town Rick Worth shares his love of art through large-scale murals, "art-o-mobiles," lively painting classes and creations that capture the character of Key West. Corcoran's Tantalizing Tales And Tacos For Tennessee He peddled tacos from a three-wheeled bicycle when he first moved to Key West — and Tom Corcoran has never forgotten the irreverent, weird, magical island he discovered from that vantage point.
Find out how he became Key West's master mystery writer by clicking here. Nevertheless, Key West keeps calling Bobby Nesbitt home. To meet the acclaimed pianist and entertainer. He also owns a top Keys fly fishing outfitter known as the Saltwater Angler.
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To meet the multitalented Murphy. Charlie Wilson: 'Real Food' Restaurateur After calling many countries home and indulging in plenty of "junk food," Charlie Wilson established roots in Key West and opened Help Yourself, offering natural and healthy foods. Nadene Grossman, Key West's go-to planner for upscale "I Do's," guides nervous brides and traveling guests through the nuptial gaieties with ease. Meet the personality-plus planner here.
Robert the Doll: Key West's Eerie Icon He stands only three feet tall, but Robert the Doll is internationally renowned for his mischievous deeds, receives letters and e-mails from all over America and has more than a thousand Facebook friends.
To meet the unusual icon. Close Search our site. Search our site Find places to stay Find things to do Find upcoming events Find wedding info.