It is no wonder that the southernmost point of the U.S. continent has been and remains one of the most beloved getaway places since its founding in 1822. It has an extremely colorful history and has been home to the famous and the infamous. Pirates and U.S. Presidents alike have retreated to this tropically lush island known as Florida’s Key West. With so many things to experience in Key West, it is challenging to decide where to begin. Here are the top 5 experiences that visitors rave about the most.
One of the best ways to experience the phenomenal underwater life in Key West is to leisurely snorkel. Ocean Vue offers one-of-a-kind, safe and exciting Key West snorkeling tours. Experience the breathtaking and colorful sea world from above while looking through the glass-bottom boat. Better yet get into the warm waters and snorkel among an amazing array of tropical fish such as angelfish and hogfish as well as sea turtles, dolphins and rays. That is only a handful of the hundreds of species of fish and other sea life that make this snorkeling exploration a memory. When you add close encounters with sunken shipwrecks to the caper, you have the makings of the adventure of a lifetime.
One of the most amazing elements of this Ocean Vue tour is getting to see the only living coral reef in North America. Just remember not to touch this living animal as so many other lives depend on the unique habitat it creates. In fact, more than 1400 species of plants and animals call it home. Don’t miss this chance to snorkel Key West.
No trip to the Keys could possibly be complete without a Key West Dolphin Encounter. Who doesn’t love these intelligent, curious, playful and often comical marine animals? At Ocean Vue, you can finally physically interact with these darlings of the sea. Their intriguing manner of communicating with each other with varying whistles and clicks is enchanting to hear. Dolphins have close-knit family units called pods and even mourn their dead. In most cases, dolphins mate for life, and the young remain with their mother for up to 8 years. Some of their characteristics are so much like our own that some marine biologists think dolphins should be renamed and referred to as “non-human people”. Most of all, dolphins love to socialize with and entertain members of their own species, as well as ours. Don’t pass on this occasion to interact intimately with these gentle creatures. Make sure your itinerary includes a Key West Dolphin Encounter at Ocean Vue.
Key West is home to some of the most fantastic scuba diving opportunities in the world. Scuba diving is another way to experience the third largest, living coral reef in the world as well as its more than 1400 plant and animal species. There is far more adventure that waits just beneath the water’s surface such as the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail. Included among the famous shipwrecks is the 520-foot Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a U.S. missile tracking ship that sank on May 27, 2009.
Many of the Key’s scuba diving tour companies offer state-of–the-art dive boats, fresh water showers, tables for photo and video equipment, generous storage area for diving equipment as well as other amenities and competitive pricing. Many, such as Key West Dive Center, offer daily tours.
No escape to the lush, Caribbean like, Key West could possibly be complete without properly celebrating the legendary sunsets. The most relaxing and romantic way to do that is with a sunset sailing cruise. Here are two outstanding choices to help you make that itinerary item a reality.
The first is Sunset Sail Key West. They have two sailboats and two experienced and personable captains. The High Tide was Key West’s very first charter sailboat. It’s a 33-footer with classic charm that has recently been completely restored. The second has also been recently renovated. It is a 41-foot, 1976 Island Trader known as Conch West.
Sunset Sail Key West accepts groups of up to 6, or if you prefer, you can book a private sunset sailing experience and even take a turn at the wheel. Ice, pop, cheese and crackers are typically served.
According to Coastal Living Magazine, Danger Charter’s Wind and Wine Cruise is one of the top, North American, sunset sailing voyages. A tad more upscale, they offer hors d' oeuvres as well as a choice of fine wines, including three whites, four reds and an exquisite Champagne.
Pub Crawl on Duval Street
This is a tradition in Key West for locals and tourists alike. The idea is to visit as many pubs or bars in one night as you possibly can. Since Key West has a number of famous bars, this is quite a trick. Best to choose a list of the bars you want to try based on the preset number of drinks you want to partake of first.
An even better way is to take one of the organized tours that typically include about five drinks and a journey through the historic seaport as well as along Duval Street. Why not plan ahead to have a safe Duval crawl by booking a room at one of the great Bed and Breakfast establishments in the neighborhood? Here are some of the most legendary bars from which to make your list of favorites.
Turtle Kraals where box turtles really do race down a shuffleboard. Race starts promptly at 6:00 P.M. but arrive early in order to place a bet.
Finnegan's Wake is the well-known Irish pub where you can enjoy the live entertainment while you drink a $5.00 pint.
Captain Tony's Saloon is one of the two bars that claim to be Hemingway’s home away from home. Whether or not it was Hemingway’s hideaway, it is certainly the home of the same Captain Tony, who was immortalized in Jimmy Buffet’s “Last Mango in Paradise”.
Sloppy Joe's is the other bar that claims to have been where Hemingway wrote and drank regularly.
Durty Harry’s is a great place to go when you want to get loud and party hard. Live rock bands will compete with you for who can be the rowdiest.
Green Parrot Bar is an open-air, landmark bar in Key West. It’s been there since 1890. The walls double as a gallery for local artists, good and bad. It’s known for its great drinks, the friendliest bartenders and its fabled juke box.