September is a languid, laid-back month in the Florida Keys. On most days, a light breeze tempers the sun-drenched temperatures, and room rates are enticingly low at most resorts and bed-and-breakfast properties.
In fact, it’s the perfect season to spend a lazy interval on the water in the Lower Keys, discovering the intriguing natural environment while treating body and mind to some “unplugged” relaxation.
For example, Big Pine Key’s Strike Zone Charters is well known for dive and snorkel trips to places like Looe Key Reef and the 210-foot Adolphus Busch shipwreck. But they also offer an island excursion and picnic that’s a great way to unwind with family and friends.
The excursions begin at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily on Strike Zone’s 40-foot glass-bottom catamaran — and even kids as young as toddlers can enjoy the experience with their families.
Attractions include snorkeling in shallow protected waters, the chance to glimpse aquatic birds, spotting stingrays and sometimes dolphins in the wild, a sample of light-tackle fishing and entertaining narration about the Keys’ history and environment.
Trip passengers learn how the individual Florida Keys got their names, the history of the railroad that first connected the island chain with the mainland and facts about the Keys’ birds, wildlife and marine life.
But that’s not all. The highlight is Strike Zone’s popular fish cookout on an uninhabited island — surrounded by shallow water ideal for wading. (For kids who don’t eat fish, the captain/chef grills hotdogs cut into octopus shapes.)
Excursions include snorkel and fishing gear, soft drinks and the fish cookout. Trips depart from Strike Zone’s headquarters at mile marker (MM) 29.5 bayside.
For reservations and details, visit www.strikezonecharter.com.
What combines mind and body relaxation, healthful exercise and an eco-experience in Florida Keys waters? Paddleboard yoga classes from Lazy Dog, a unique outdoor adventure company located at Hurricane Hole Marina, 5114 Overseas Highway on Stock Island.
The two-hour classes are divided equally between paddling time and yoga practice. Participants first paddle out to the calm backcountry waters, spotting sea life and wading birds along the way.
The yoga experience is designed to still the mind and increase flexibility and strength through chanting, breathwork and seated and standing postures — all using the board as a “mat” while connecting with nature in a tranquil mangrove setting. The class ends with a paddle back to the dock.
Beginners through experienced yoga practitioners are welcome. For more information, including costs, visit www.lazydog.com.
And speaking of Lazy Dog, it may be a dog’s life — but in the Keys, that life can include a dog’s-eye exploration of azure waters by kayak, while the humans do all the paddling. As well as paddleboard yoga, Lazy Dog offers Doggie Paddle guided kayak excursions for people and their pooches.
Dog-loving kayak guides lead the two-hour excursions, and paddlers travel through the mangrove shallows to a sandbar where two-footed and four-footed friends can frolic together in the warm saltwater.
Or, to enjoy a completely laid-back afternoon, take a languid swim at Bahia Honda State Park — where the beach has earned repeated kudos as one of America’s top 10.
The park is located on Bahia Honda Key at MM 37. For info, click here.
In fact, with so many ways to unplug and relax in the Lower Keys, this tranquil subtropical area just might have inspired the phrase “low key.”