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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Ibis Bay: An Eco-Friendly Resort

Image courtesy Ibis Bay Resort

At home, we commit ourselves to pure living. We use natural products, recycle, and work to conserve energy. Why should things be any different when we travel?

Ibis Bay Resort, a Key West resort built in 1956, has recently been restored to its former, retro glory. The hidden waterfront gem allows guests to experience the true “old Florida” feel that visitors search for when vacationing on the island. Its resurrection was a far better alternative than bulldozing the property, only to waste materials on building another hotel. Salvaged bikes, an old boat front desk and other age old décor are a few second life character pieces around Ibis.

Blending with Nature

Ibis Bay’s colors and design mesh flawlessly into the tropical back drop of the Keys. Centrally located between the coral walled buildings resides a spacious turtle sanctuary for two large rescued turtles, and a tiny one who has recently been accepted by its new family. You’ll also find friendly, very talkative parrots around the property, some of whom have also been rescued from dire situations and now live their lives in paradise, being loved by the employees and guests. Even the friendly nurse sharks that swim near the dock of The Stoned Crab, the resort’s restaurant, are fed unused food scraps, preventing waste.

Keeping it Local

Three Hands Fish is Ibis Bay’s personal fish market that not only supplies The Stoned Crab, but many other seafood restaurants as well. Fisherman head out early in the morning and bring back fish that are professionally prepared, then served only hours after they are caught. The market works to keep things sustainable by fishing locally, informing customers about their food, and promoting the consumption of invasive fish. From the fisherman, to the filet master, to you: that’s the motto. Hence the name, Three Hands Fish.

Image courtesy Ibis Bay Resort

The Stoned Crab: Sustainably Delicious

Ibis’ popular restaurant is known for, you guessed it, stone crab. It’s the only 100% sustainable meat, since the crab gets to live. When the little guys are pulled up from the water, they get feisty, and during their struggle they will pop a claw out of socket. The fisherman then plucks one claw, leaving the other for defense, and releases him back into the ocean. No worries, because the claw will grow back! The American Heart Association deems stone crab as one of the healthiest meats available.

Chef Paul Menta has founded many successful food joints, including Key West favorite Cuban Coffee Queen , and is now sprinkling his magic fairy dust on The Stoned Crab.  Menta acknowledges the natural flavors already within the food, then skillfully adds fresh, local ingredients to enhance each dish.

Quite literally, we put on gloves and dug into a platter of the freshest stone crab, pink Key West shrimp and oysters I’ve ever had. A house smoked fish dip and ceviche with lobster also accompanied our glorious appetizer. Myself and another travel companion split the Key West Lobster Steamer, a combination of snow crab legs, shrimp, potatoes, corn and one large lobster garnished with key lime butter. Another in our party ordered the Fisherman’s Steamer with stone crab, snow crab, shrimp and the fresh, local catch of the day. The Crab Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with a side of spiraled potatoes are both appetizers, but were made a meal by our final travel buddy. Hands down, they serve fantastic seafood. I don’t think I’ll ever have better.

As if an on sight fish market was not enough, Menta distills his own rum and makes unbelievable drinks with fresh, local, organic ingredients.

Image courtesy Ibis Bay Resort

Exercise opportunities Everywhere

Ibis is equipped with the original salt water pool from the 1950’s that backs up to the restaurants bar, providing convenient access to one of Menta’s specialty rum drinks, served in a fresh coconut. Hammocks, palm trees and an array of eclectic lights give guests a “blast from the past” swimming experience. However, the huge screen that’s used for “dive in” movies is a more modern touch.

Bikes, a popular choice for transportation in Key West, are available for rent. But if you’ve worn yourself out swimming, motor bikes are an option too.

Possibly my most favorite thing at Ibis Bay is the night time kayak experience. Knowledgeable guides who’ve been educated in marine biology guided us out into the calm ocean in glass bottom, LED-lit kayaks. The experience is unique to the resort, and allows guests to see an abundance of sea life while learning more about the ocean’s ecosystem. It’s a peaceful yet calorie burning experience that is fun for almost anyone. Kayaking is safer for the reefs and animals than snorkeling, as swimming and kicking around these delicate life forms could kill them. As always, Ibis Bay works tirelessly to promote the preservation of the ocean.

Free Shuttle

Parking in downtown Key West is a nightmare, so the resort offers a complimentary shuttle to major stops. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the amount of cars puttering around the town, which is great for the environment. The bus runs all day, making scheduled stops to and from Ibis Bay.

Experience it for Yourself

It’s easy to book a big name hotel and skip over the smaller establishments. But doing this could mean missing something truly magical. The character and eco-consciousness of this adorable resort blew me away, and I almost passed the opportunity by. Thankfully, a filthy hotel room at a “bigger” hotel landed us at Ibis Bay, and we had the experience of a lifetime.

Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.