Have You Visited Key West?

Yesterday I talked about how I had the good fortune of spending Thanksgiving week on a large yacht with my family. I didn’t mention that most of the week was actually spent in Key West, which turned out to be a lot of fun.

Key West is at the tail end of a string of tiny islands at the bottom tip of Florida. You can actually drive into almost all of these islands from the mainland, and I learned last week that you can also fly there. The view from the plane is absolutely spectacular, especially the different depths and channels of the ocean and some tiny, disconnected island communities.

As far as we could tell, the weather was beautiful the entire week. However, a bright, sunny day doesn’t necessarily make for smooth sailing. So we spent the first two nights in Key West, half a day sailing to Dry Tortuga, one night anchored there, then half a day sailing back to Key West, where we remained for the rest of the week. The captain said that Key West really isn’t the best departure point for a boat, as there aren’t any island coves in the area where you can anchor the yacht and protect it from the elements (unlike the Bahamas).

I’ll talk about the journey away from Key West in another post, but there were plenty of things to do in the keys, and we barely even went into town. Our only excursion was to go to Hemmingway House, which was absolutely worth the price of admission thanks to the 58 cats that live in and around the house. You can also pet them, but be aware: Many of them have 6 claws per paw. This little bugger took a nibble on my finger before I took the hint that he just wanted to nap.

The Hemmingway tour guide kept mentioning a place called Sloppy Joes, apparently a bar that Ernest frequented. We later noticed that the current version of the bar was in our marina.

One of the most unexpected highlights are the 4+ hours we spent on jet skis just outside our marina and in the mangroves, where the smooth water allowed us to jet at speeds of 60 mph and more. I kept it around 20 mph, but with Megan at the helm, we went quite fast. My brother and brother-in-law also had a blast.

But the biggest highlight for me was snorkeling. We actually tried to snorkel twice, taking the largest non-yacht boat 30 minutes outside of Key West to a small reef that just didn’t turn out to be all that nice.

So we tried again the next day in a different area with calmer waters, and it was truly one of the highlights of my life. Just a few feet underwater was a vast range of coral and fish just going about their business. I joined schools of zebra fish, stared down 3 barracuda, and marveled at dozens of other species for which I don’t know their names. I stayed in the water for so long that my entire body was one big grape by the time I got out.

I didn’t take any photos of the snorkeling, as I just had a phone camera, and I wanted to stay in the moment rather than capture it. All I can say is that it was absolutely worth the experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Have you ever visited Key West, jet skied, or snorkeled?

3 thoughts on “Have You Visited Key West?”

  1. I had the fortune of going to Key West, drinking a Papa Double at Sloppy Joe’s and doing the Hemmingway House tour. I agree that the tour is totally worth it! After the tour, we bought print of the house surrounded by cats done by an artist friend of the Hemmingway family. It still hangs in our home as a fond reminder of the day.
    I also have snorkeled in Mexico, at a quiet and remote resort. We swam around corals , were surrounded by fish (it’s a surreal and magical thing!) and saw sea turtles.
    We were warned to give the turtles plenty of distance, which we did, but it was really cool to see them.

    • That’s great! I’d like to snorkel again in crystal clear water, if that’s an option. Though I was surprised by the clarity of the water in Key West. I’d like to see turtles, dolphins, and sting rays.


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