1. See the Island. This is a very beautiful and quaint place, but many people don't see much more than Duval Street. As any local will tell you, the best way to see Key West is by bike or on foot. Hop on a bike and start peddling. There are nooks and back streets that even those of us who live here haven't seen. If you want a structured tour, Lloyd's Original Nature Bike Tour is one of the best: (305-294-1882). At the very least take the Conch Tour Train (294-5161) or the Old Town Trolley (296-6688). Both give you a very complete tour of the island, along with a little history and some local color. Both are about the same price for a 90 min. tour. The trolley, however, is enclosed, and will let you get on and off at different points of interest all day long.
2. Visit Mallory Square. Yes, the Sunsets really can be spectacular here. And the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is something that you should see at least once. It starts about an hour before sunset, and is a cross between the Gong Show and the outpatient clinic at Bellevue. It's colorful, it's fun, and it's FREE! Go down Duval Street, take a left on Front Street, and a right after Ben & Jerry's ice cream stand and head toward the water. The entertainers survive off of tips --and Budweiser-- so your support is appreciated.
3. See the Reef. The only Living Coral Reef in North America lies just six miles off the coast of the Keys, running roughly 150 miles from Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas. It is well worth seeing. If you are a certified diver, diving can be amazing, and there are several companies that offer reef dives (at 30'), and wreck dives (at 60' to 90'). If you want to check out diving but are not certified, certification takes about four days and costs around $400.00. Or you can learn to dive in a day with training in the morning and a 2 tank, 2 location dive in the afternoon. The cost is about $100.00, including equipment. It doesn't certify you, but it is a great experience, and will help you determine if you want to spend the extra time and money to get certified.
Snorkeling, which doesn't require a license and is done in about 10 feet of water at the reef, is very popular in Key West. The catamarans charge $30 - $40 per person and sail out to the reef in both the morning and the afternoon with all equipment included, and free beer and wine on the way back in. Powerboats usually give you more time in the water and may be a little cheaper, but give you less room to get sun, and may not include free drinks.
Finally, The Glass Bottom Boats provide a two hour trip to the reef and back for those who don't want to get in the water. They provide a narrated tour of the harbour and the reef, and have soft drinks and snacks available on board. The charge is $30 - $40. For reservations or more information on any of these trips call 305-294-1525 or E-mail Us Here!
4. See the Museums. Key West has a rich history, from pirates to poets to Presidents. Some of this history is well chronicled in museums around town. The Little White House (292-9911), located in the Truman Annex section of Old Town off Caroline Street, provides a tour of the house that President Harry Truman used as his personal vacation residence during a good deal of his Presidency.
The Hemingway House (294-1575), corner of Olivia & Whitehead Street, is an interesting and entertaining tour of the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. The Mel Fisher Museum (296-9936), Corner of Whitehead & Green Street, is also an authentic look at America's foremost treasure hunter and some of the artifacts he has discovered. And the Key West Historium located on Front Street (292-8990) is an interesting mix of live theater and history as they recreate the lives of the wreckers who made their living as scavengers off ships that would wreck on the Coral Reef.
5. Visit the Top of the La Concha Hotel. The La Concha Hotel (296-2991), corner of Duval & Fleming Street, is the tallest building in Old Town, and provides a wonderful panoramic view of the entire island. The top story, the 7th floor, has a restaurant and bar with an outside observation deck. It's open to the public, and a great place to go to get a few pictures and a terrific perspective of the island.
6. Do some Fishing. Some of the best fishing in the world is available in the waters off the Florida Keys and Key West. Deep sea fisherman go out for half day and full day charters with up to six people for sailfish, tuna, shark, marlin and other large trophy fish.
Reef fishing is usually done for smaller fish such as grouper, snapper, yellowtail, and barracuda, many of which are great to eat. This type of fishing is best done with a four to six people on a smaller boat. Finally, flats fishing is done on a small flats skiff taking up to two people plus the guide, who takes you to the serene back country or back waters of the islands, often fishing in only two to three feet of water. Bonefish, permit, tarpon and cobia are fished for there.
As far as prices go, deep sea boats usually cost around $600 for up to six people for half day trip (4 hours) and $800 for a full day (8 hours). If just one or two people wish to fish you can often get out with others on a split charter for $140/half day per person. Reef fishing on smaller boats usually run about $100 per charter less than Deep Sea Fishing Boats. Flats boats run about the $450 per half day and $600 for full day.
If you just want to do a little fishing and keep the cost to a minimum, party boats are available for about $40-$50/per person, usually taking 50 to 70 people out at a time. For more information and reservations visit our Fishing Depot Page (click here), or call 305-294-1525 or E-Mail Us Here!
7. See the Back Country. Although most snorkeling is done at the Coral Reef, some boats in Key West provide trips to the Back Country, which offers its own serene beauty among mangrove forests, crystal clear water, and small uninhabited islands. These trips are usually done on sailboats or trimarrands that take a maximum of six people. Snorkeling, kayaking, birdwatching, and even light fishing may be included. Often lunch and soft drinks are also part of the package. These trips cost about $50/per person for a 4 to 5 hour trip and can provide you with unforgettable memories of the timeless natural beauty of the Keys. For more information on Back Country trips call 305-294-1525.
8. Visit Little Palm Island. If you are looking for the perfect place to celebrate something special or just be with someone special, then Little Palm Island cannot be beat. Little Palm Island is a small private resort 3 miles offshore and about 28 miles north of Key West, (mile marker #28.5 on the right side of the road). It is rich in history and tropical ambience, and has been visited by Presidents Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt, and more recently Vice President Al Gore and his family. Warner Brothers selected it as the site for the movie "PT 109" about John Kennedy. Although the lodging is expensive, ($400.00 to $800.00 a night), the dining room is open to the public, and lunch can be purchased for about $25.00 per person and is exceptional. For more information call (305-872-2551).
Enjoy the Nightlife. Key Wester's like to party, and there
are over 100 bars in town to help alter your consciousness. The
best thing to do is just walk down Duval Street and stop in for a
drink whenever the music or the crowd moves you (the locals call
this the "Duval Crawl"). The bars usually stay open till
4 am so you may wish to start taking your vitamins before you get
Note that driving in Key West can be difficult under the best circumstances. If you are going to party in town, then you are only a $6.00 to $8.00 cab ride from your hotel room. Give one of the cabs a call (292-0000 or 292-6666) and they will deliver you back to your room safe and sound.
10. Take A Sunset Cruise. Setting sail in Key West Harbour and watching the sun sink into the sea can be the perfect ending to a perfect vacation. Sunset Cruises are usually 2 hours on either Catamaran or a Schooner, you are provided with all the beer, wine, sodas, and Champagne you wish to drink. Prices range from $30-$60 for the Catamarans, the Schooners and tall ships. Bring your camera along to get some great shots. You won't regret the trip!