Lifestyle

Top 3 Eco-Friendly Vacation Spots in Florida 🏝

Like salt in the sea, there are some experiences we encounter that are forever engraved into who we are. When it comes to the ocean, you never forget the sound waves make as they crash against the shore, the smell of salty brine lingering in the air, or the blissful way a cool breeze engulfs you on a hot summers day. The ocean is something we all have in common and in recent studies around the globe, it’s now become alarmingly evident that our oceans have seen better days. Fortunately for us, a few pioneers have been revolutionizing the way cities handle conservation and education for responsible tourism. With plenty of caring citizens wanting to do their part, eco-tourism, sustainability-focused, and thriving wildlife destinations have become front and center on trending travel reports.

Here in the United States, the Florida Keys has been leading the charge on responsible tourism offering everything from sustainable eco-tours to government supported nature centers that emphasize the education on local wildlife. If you’re looking to do your part this summer, we recommend planning a trip to the Florida Keys, diving down to the world’s third largest barrier reef and preparing for a vacation where you can give back to the planet and leave knowing you left a destination better than you found it.

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Key Largo

The first stop of any Florida Keys road trip is none other than Key Largo. The Keys consist of a 125-mile-long stretch of islands that mirrors an equally as impressive coastline with the world’s third largest barrier reef. As you can imagine, the reef plays a vital role in attracting visitors near and far. Therefore, businesses and locals alike are doing their part to invest in the upkeep and well being of their oceanic ecosystem.

The Baker’s Cay Resort, for example, is a former pineapple plantation which has been reimagined into a 13-acre resort that not only features beautiful rooms, quality service, delicious restaurants, and stunning nature trails complete with hidden beaches, but also does its part by providing guests with environmentally friendly options liked boxed water, biodegradable straws, and an eco-conscious boutique that offers up everything from sustainable fashion to reef safe sunscreen.

In Monroe County, reef safe sunscreen is strongly encouraged, as the county is currently working their way towards making reef harmful sunscreens illegal by law. Sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone are proven to be lethal to coral, which since the 1970s has diminished by 97 percent. As the United State’s only barrier reef, coral is one the Keys most valuable players in this $2.7 billion dollar tourism industry. In the words of Roxane Boonstra, the recreational dive and volunteer coordinator from the Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo, you have to start with coral. They’ll be no marine life without it. Guests can visit the Coral Restoration Foundation to learn more about the future of coral reefs as well as volunteer to snorkel or scuba dive the man-made coral farms. Divers will even get the opportunity to do their part by helping replant native corals back onto the reef.

Of course, if you’d rather be landlocked, you can wind down and visit The Florida Keys Wild Bird Sanctuary, a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native wild birds that have been harmed or displaced. You can visit the resident birds who are no longer eligible to be released due to long-standing medical conditions and learn the importance of coexistence as well as the importance of environmental preservation for some of Florida’s oldest residents.

Marathon

After you’ve finished exploring the Upper Keys, take a day tip to Marathon, where visitors can tour one of the world’s first turtle hospitals, opened in 1986, designated to the health and well being of sea turtles. At the Turtle Hospital, educational tours are held daily to introduce visitors to the resident sea turtles, the facilities that help them, and to the local stressors that affect marine life as well as how we can do our part to prevent them. Guests even have the opportunity to get up close and personal in the process by assisting in the release of a turtle, back into the ocean, after they’ve been rehabilitated, which is regularly announced on the hospital’s website. Bette Zirkelbach, the manager of the turtle hospital, excitedly exclaims that, “6/10 of our calls [for sick sea turtles] are from people who have been to the hospital before,” making this once in a lifetime experience one not to be missed!

After you’ve worked up an appetite from saving turtles all day, head over to Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar to order up the local catch of the day, Lionfish. Owner and Chef John Mirabell was one of the world’s first chefs to serve up lionfish after a venomous sting left him “inspired” to make lionfish sushi. Lionfish are an invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean causing a real problem for Florida’s local ecosystem as they compete with native fish for food, habitat and dominate in populations due to a lack of natural predators. As a conservationist, Mirabell is lending his hand in helping diminish the invasive population by doing what humans do best, putting lionfish on the menu. On Castaway’s extensive menu, you can find this fish served up several different ways alongside plenty of other locally caught fish and delicious dishes. Local favorites include the fresh ceviche, stuffed avocados, and lionfish sushi humorously referred to as the king of the jungle roll.

Key West

After crossing the infamous seven-mile bridge, you’ll eventually find yourself at the final destination of your road trip, Key West. Naturally, you can’t mention the Floridas Keys without mentioning Florida’s biggest wildlife player, dolphins. Key West is home to a resident pod of about 300 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, which live in smaller pods that can range anywhere from 6 to 20 dolphins seasonally. Watching them in their natural habitat with Honest Eco Sustainable Nature Tours is an experience favored by visitors and locals alike. The SQUID, Key West’s first solar-powered boat, uses a lithium battery-powered electric motor that reduces fuel consumption making it a perfect environmentally friendly option for day tours. The solar powered battery reduces the engine’s noise pollution making it ideal for dolphin watching as well as snorkeling in secluded areas amongst the iconic turquoise blue waters that are synonymous with the Keys.

If you prefer to stay dry on your excursion, Key West Eco Tours provides kayaks or stand up paddle boards through “backcountry” waters where wild mangroves provide a lush habitat for young sea life and colorful gardens. Led by local nature guides, this hands-on experience invites guests on a treasure hunt as they search the seabed to identify, classify, and learn about the extensive ecosystem that flourishes within these clear shallow waters.

In addition to the abundance of eco-friendly tours, Key West is also home to a budding sustainably sourced culinary scene. Locals can be found on any given night dining at The Stoned Crab. At this restaurant, private fishing boats deliver sustainably caught Florida stone crab, lobster, Key West Shrimp and a variety of local fish that are every bit as delicious as they are fresh. From dinner, stroll on over to the infamous sunset celebration at Mallory Square where around 7 pm the streets turn into a carnival affair as Floridians and eager guests overlook the harbor while street performers, musician, and food carts celebrate another day in paradise. From there, you can head to Duval Street’s only eco-bar, The Green Room, where this local hub serves up unique frozen cocktails, live music, and a picturesque rooftop deck overlooking the downtown area. The Green Room’s commitment to being eco friendly echoes throughout the space with upcycled decor, an extensive recycling system behind the scenes, a curbside cigarette container that makes recycling those butts anything but boring and a for sale merchandise display that donates a margin of their proceeds to helping environmental causes, such as the Turtle Hospital. After a long night celebrating on Duval St, you can rest easy at the Parrot Key Hotel & Villas who’s newly refurbished waterfront villas are a blissful escape with top of the line amenities and friendly staff that will make your stay feel like paradise.

As far as vacations go, getting in touch with one of America’s most eco-conscious destinations is more than just a once in a lifetime experience, it’s a bright light to the future of sustainable tourism. This chain of island’s commitment to reducing plastic use, enforcing non-toxic sunscreen, and commitment to sustainably caught seafood is the lifeline needed to aid a seemingly sinking ship. As the world works towards educating future generations on sustainable practices, the Florida Keys is no doubt a pioneer in leading the way in which sustainability can work hand in hand to educate locals and visitors alike on the importance of preserving our planet making this destination an absolute must for your next vacation

Health Benefits of Middle Eastern Food 🌱

A diet filled with Middle Eastern food, similar to a Mediterranean diet, incorporates the flavorful foods of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. This food is conducive with a health diet, as it keeps the body healthy by being heart healthy and staving off many chronic diseases.

Middle Eastern food emphasizes the use of fish, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. Vegetarian food is often enjoyed, as it is heart healthy and strong flavors can be showcased. Because cholesterol and saturated fat are only found in foods that are animal-based, Eating vegetarian or vegan food is very health-conscious. Heart-healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids in fish and olive oil are healthy sources of fats.

For example, Tabouleh is a superfood that incorporates healthy olive oil with a refreshing mix of bulgur wheat, fresh onions and tomatoes, mint, lemon, and salt. This is a perfect dish for corporate catering as it is a crowd pleaser that can easily go along with any entree meal.

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Baba Ghanouj is also great for catering, as its light and fresh consistency pairs well with wood-fired pita bread. Baba Ghanouj is a fresh blend of baked eggplant, fresh garlic, tahini, and lemon. Eggplant is especially good for your health, as it is a great source of dietary fiber, copper, and vitamin B1. It also has manganese, niacin, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin K, and folate. Its phytonutrients include nasunin and chlorogenic acid, which are vital to overall health.

Following a Middle Eastern diet is also beneficial to brain health, cognitive function, and overall mortality. Studies have shown a Middle Eastern diet has been able to have an effect on the prevention of Parkinson’s, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s in 1.5 million people. For lunch, you might enjoy an Aladdin Mediterranean Chicken Salad with homemade lemon and olive oil dressing, with a wood fired pita on the side. For dinner, try some falafels, which is a vegetarian delight, and a Koufta Kabob to add some additional protein to your day.

There are many varieties of food available to help you stay healthy while eating Middle Eastern food. The options are endless for your taste and the taste of others. If you are putting on a corporate catering event, impress your guests by including a healthy menu for them to enjoy that will keep them energized throughout the day. Encouraging your guests to eat healthy vegetarian and vegan foods is a great way to have them experience new flavors that they will want to go back for more.

Catch the Wellness Wave 🌱Miami Vibes’ Health & Wellness Meet on June 29th

Miami Vibes Magazine has merged the realm of health and wellness and created the 1st Annual Miami Vibes Health & Wellness Meet. Miami has a plethora of programs to help the community live their best lives; unfortunately, many of these resources either go unnoticed or are under utilized. Miami Vibes Magazine is inviting Miami to “Catch the Wellness Wave” in an all day open to the public event on June 29, 2019 at Miami Ironside, from 9:00am to 6:00pm.

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The day will commence with a fitness and wellness portion consisting of bootcamp sessions led by health and wellness coach, Zach Fazz; and yoga sessions led by yoga instructors, Johanna Thompson and Nzingah Oniwosan. The event will then center around a health and wellness panel (moderated by Nzingah Oniwosan) to discuss how we can live our best lives and what tools we can use. Join Chef Sol in a healthy cooking demonstration and a simple stir fry demo by Wok Star, Eleanor Hoh.

Later in the afternoon, community members, including the Public Health Department, featuring “Project Screen,” Borinquen Medical Centers, Ocyon Interventional Regenerative Medicine, Spiritual Healing with Purple Lotus Healing, Reflexology with Mary Susan Heydemann and Paty Mariposa with healing services will set up shop and showcase an assortment of services they provide to the community along with other health & wellness community partners. Enjoy delicious food and beverages throughout the event from our sponsors MondEpice, XOL, FIJI water, Miami Grill Catering, AMLA Miami Vegan Bakery and Chef Creole; vibing sounds by DJ Giohcecato and DJ Julian and video by Qualitafilms.

Come be a part of the vibes and catch the wellness wave!

Event information

WHEN: Miami Vibes Health & Wellness Meet will be on Saturday June 29, 2019 from 9:00am - 6:00pm.

WHERE: Miami Ironside 7610 NE 4th Ct, Miami, FL 33138

ADMISSION: Open to the public. RSVP here

Keeping Up With Krel #IronsideMakers

Meet Miami fashion designer Karelle Levy and explore her collection of sustainable, hand loomed, limited edition designer knitwear specifically made for the heat.  Styles range from dresses, skirts, and hot shorts to tanks. 

Designer and artist Karelle Levy founded Krelwear fashion collection in 2002. Born in Paris and raised in Miami, she graduated with a Textile degree from Rhode Island School of Design. She applies her multi-cultural background to designing and fabricating colorful, body-conscious knitwear for tropical climates. She specializes in eco-friendly cotton and metallic fibers with advanced technology. Hand-knitted dresses, tops, hot shorts and accessories come in her exclusive, signature fabrics.

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In addition to creating art installations, including Quickie Couture, a series for on-the-spot custom pieces, she hosts “Stitch N Bitch” monthly knitting and crochet workshops at her studio and boutique in Miami Ironside and at the Freehand Miami hotel.

KREL’s philosophy is based in the beauty of seamless “toobular” knit design. Branching through two separate lines; one of a kind hand loomed and limited ready to wear.  The one of kind line is hand loomed in our Miami atelier with a blend of yarns ranging from cottons, metallics, rayons, glow in the dark, and polyesters.  Some pieces can have up to 20 varieties of yarns.  The pieces are like works of art; they change and morph as they are created.

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Sustainably Designed & Knit in Miami

KREL has been voted Best Fashion Designer in Miami New Times in 2005 & 2010 and awarded GenArt “Fresh Faces of Fashion” in 2004.  Among its list of thrilled garment owners are: Nicki Minaj, Alanis Morrisset, Christina Ricci, Carmen Electra, Pink, Cameron Diaz, and Natasha Lyonne.

17 Things Every Miamian Needs a Break From ☀️

Welcome to “the 305,” where our “winters” make the rest of the country jealous, our coffee is strong, and our people are beautiful. It’s no secret that everyone wants to visit Miami, but like any city, living here can mean its fair share of annoyances (not that we'd trade it for anywhere else). Among the endless pool parties, there are things that every Miamian would like to (occasionally) escape. We rounded up 17 of the most common complaints.

ETERNAL SUMMER

Sending our NYC friends pictures from the beach in January, while they’re putting on seven sweaters and a peacoat to take out the trash? Priceless. Spending hours in front of the mirror to look like a runway model, only to walk outside and turn into a wet dog by the time you reach your Uber? Worth whatever the hell it costs to travel somewhere without humidity.

“MIAMI TIME”

It’s a thing. We natives can’t explain it and Miami transplants rarely accept it, but if you invite us over for dinner at 7pm, we will show up at 8pm. With the appetizers. We may accept our bad habits, but visit another city and be reminded that punctuality can be oddly refreshing… especially at restaurants, where it doesn’t take a waitress 45 minutes to remember to bring your menus.  

PEOPLE WHO WORK OUT ALL THE TIME

When you live in a place where it’s beach season year-round, the gym is a way of life. It also means half your Instagram feed is just friends finding any excuse to show you they do CrossFit.

Cynthia Perez/Thrillist

Cynthia Perez/Thrillist

PARKING ON MIAMI BEACH

Drive around for an hour to find parking cheaper than valet, then end up paying the valet anyway because your reservation was an hour ago and you’re over it.

MIAMI DRIVERS

Blinkers are optional. Changing lanes like you’re the only person on US 1, even when it’s rush hour, is not. Speaking of which...

TRAFFIC

Construction. Tourists. Bad Miami drivers. Construction. That Uber driver who can’t find you. Construction. The reason is irrelevant -- just know that if you try to drive anywhere, anytime except 1pm on a Tuesday, you will be bumper-to-bumper for at least an hour.

 

RUDE, SELF-OBSESSED PEOPLE

Our people know they look good... and are shameless about keeping up with the competition. Get in the way of a sprinkle-pool Instagram moment at the Museum of Ice Cream, and you might just get chased down Collins Avenue.

SPRING BREAKERS

To the masses of college students who make the beach impossible to go to in March and April: Your fake, post-2010 Four Lokos and Tide Pods are not welcome here. Nor are your Uber surge prices.

TRENDY... EVERYTHING

Those $18 sous-vide bacalao crêpes with lime-green seafoam and dehydrated olives look great -- except when all you really want is a bread basket or a plate of croquetas.

Cynthia Perez/Thrillist

Cynthia Perez/Thrillist

ENDLESS CONSTRUCTION

Does anyone even know what they’re building on the Palmetto anymore?

BANDWAGON SPORTS FANS

“I have season tickets to all the Heat games because they are the best team on Earth and God bless Wade County and I will forever pledge my loyalt-- oh, LeBron left? When’s the first Dolphins game, again?”

MIAMI SLANG

Here, bro, everyone speaks Spanglish, we make up words like “irregardless,” and it’s commonplace to randomly yell “dale.” Dah-laaaay! Sometimes, not every conversation needs to sound like a Pitbull song.

EVERYONE PRETENDING TO HAVE MONEY

That guy with the Lamborghini lives with his abuela in West Kendall and will walk your dog for gas money.

Cynthia Perez/Thrillist

Cynthia Perez/Thrillist

REALLY HIGH RENT PRICES

The only way to avoid paying less than $1,300/month for a 600 square-foot, 1-bedroom apartment (with one laundry machine for the whole building) is to move to Hialeah. Or Homestead, where the money you’re saving in rent just goes to gas money because you’re 45 minutes away from… anything. What I’m saying is, maybe Lamborghini guy has it figured out.

THE DATING SCENE

You never hear anyone say they’re going to Miami to “settle down.” You DO hear them say they’re going to Miami to "meet hot chicks at the Clevelander” or see them slide into your DMs with the ever-hopeful “Ayyyyy mami.”

SNOWBIRDS

DRIVE FASTER, GRANDMA, WE ALREADY HAVE A TRAFFIC PROBLEM.

PARTYING

After the party, it’s the hotel lobby, where you meet a guy with a table at LIV, take him to Better Days, and somehow end up on the sand at 21st and Collins drinking rosé at sunrise. On a Wednesday. It’s fun when you visit, but when you live in a place where the partying never stops, plowing through lines of tourists to pay $20 for a vodka soda gets old fast. Netflix and pajama Fridays, amiright?