Key West’s Mallory Square is bursting with activity and acts as the main plaza of Key West. It’s here at Mallory Square that we celebrate the sunset every evening, with live music, performers, artists and a rowdy cheer as the sun goes down. In fact, the sunset celebration at Mallory Square is on our Top Ten Things to do in Key West. Why? Where else do you get to see the sun set over the water, in the eastern part of the United States? The shimmering colors over the water and the brilliant sky reflecting its pink and orange hues, well, you’ll want to celebrate too, once you get here!
Mallory Square is on the waterfront, facing Key West harbor. From Mallory Square you can see Sunset Key, which is a private resort island, you can see boats coming and going, and you can see several small islands that surround Key West. It’s a beautiful place to gaze out and think about how good life is!
In the evening, the street performers set up and do amazing and entertaining things for visitors. There are tightrope acts, juggling, magic, and well it changes from time to time so it’s never the same twice. The mood down at Mallory Square is joyous and slightly exciting, as another night is about to start, on Duval Street. Everyone is in a great mood, and what a great place to be!
During the day, it’s still nice because it’s a wide open space, so different from the tiny lanes and streets of Old Town. You can see Tarpon sometimes, off the pier, and usually at least several types of fish hanging around. Mallory Square is a nice place to catch your breath, chill out, and regroup for the next Key West activity.
So you’re on vacation and you’re excited for some Key West FL diving? You’ve come to one of the most popular dive and snorkeling destinations in the world, brought to you by North America’s only living coral reef. And the sinking of the USS Vandenberg in May 2009 makes Key West FL diving even better! That’s because now, in addition to all the great reef dives you have always been able to make, you can also dive the world’s second-largest artificial reef! But let’s take a look at some of the most tried-and-true reef spots where Key West FL diving excursions will take visitors. Did you know there’s already an intentionally-sunk boat now serving as an artificial reef and dive spot? It’s the Cayman.
The Cayman salvager is just south of the island of Key West, in about 60 to 100 feet of water. It’s been down there more than twenty years now, so there’s a good ecosystem built up. Key West FL diving boats go there just about every day, for very good dives. The Cayman was a good sturdy work boat built during the 1930s, tending buoys, laying cable and carrying materials around. She also carried Cubans in 1979, which was illegal. She was seized and sank at the dock, then they tried to tow her out to deep water for a fishing spot, but she sank on the way out in just 90 feet of water so there she sits, a top Key West FL diving attraction!
Key West FL divers can see Jewfish, moray eels, jacks and all kinds of big and small fish alike when they dive the Cayman. Together with the USS Vandenberg, and other Key West FL diving spots, the Cayman is one more reason why Key West FL diving is among the best in the world!
Key West FL fishing is awesome year round, so no matter when you arrive for your Key West vacation get ready for some great salt water sport fishing!
What makes Key West FL fishing so darn exciting? Easy: it’s the coral reef, the Gulf Stream, the wrecks, the Gulf of Mexico, and all the structure out there like the dropoff, bars, humps, holes and caves. Then there are all the expert Key West fishing guides who make it happen out there, bringing in fish every time they go out. Their experience, combined with the marine world of natural resources we are lucky to have here, make Key West FL fishing unbeatable, nonstop excitement and fun!
Choose from Key West flats fishing, reef fishing, offshore fishing, and backcountry fishing. Target a certain species, like tarpon in Spring and Summer, or mackerel in Winter, grouper and snapper any time of year, or bonefish on the flats of Key West. There are so many large salt water sport fish in the waters of Key West, it’s one of the reasons why it’s a top destination for serious anglers, vacationers, and tournaments as well.
Be a “flyer” and experience the exhilirating feeling of slowly rising above the water, gazing down at marine life and the edges of Key West nearby. Safely done over the water, Key West FL parasailing is perfect for anyone who wants a thrill and wants to see Key West from the air. You don’t even have to know how to swim to go parasailing. You are snugly strapped into a harness seat the whole time, and of course always attached to the boat. Buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the view!
Go solo or tandem with a buddy. Bring a camera but put it in a waterproof case. Your captain will dip your feet into the water if you request it, and most do! What a refreshing way to see Key West and cool off at the same time. Your trip will be approximately one hour, from dock to dock, with about 10 minutes of flying time on most boats. See ya in the friendly skies!
Travel out to this remote brick fort built in the Civil War era, and listen to a very informative talk about Fort Jefferson, which is the name of the actual fort. Your guide will also be educated in local wildlife, including nesting birds at Dry Tortugas and marine life you will see on the ride out to the Park.
The Fort at Dry Tortugas is surrounded by a moat, filled with water and then surrounded by flats on all sides. The flats (another name for shallow salt water in this area) are brilliant turquoise blue, sea green water and simply gorgeous viewed from the top of the wall surrounding the fort.
Snorkeling is great here, and you can explore the area in the afternoon, after lunch. Usual itinerary is:
- breakfast on the boat, around 8:30 as you travel out
- trip out is around 2 hours
- guided tour of Dry Tortugas, with nature specialist
- lunch on the boat
- a couple hours for exploring snorkeling, bird watching etc
- back on the boat for the ride home, back at the dock by 5:30pm
The tour of the house is lovingly filled with tidbits of Hemingway’s life while he lived in Key West in the 1930s. There’s a cute story about his grand swimming pool, and you get a sense of the swarthy character that he was. He supposedly loved to sit in Key West bars drinking and writing. He also loved to fish, which is perhaps the reason he lived here. Key West FL fishing is of course, famous.
Hemingway House is associated with a few other museums in Key West, so if you’re interested in these, make sure to ask about a combined ticket to save money. Other options are Truman’s Little White House, Mel Fisher’s Museum, and Audubon House. Hemingway House is located on Whitehead Street, close to the waterfront area of Duval Street.
Almost anybody can manage Key West snorkeling, too. It doesn’t take much swimming skills, since the salt water makes you very buoyant. Plus, any professional Key West FL snorkeling boat will provide you with personal flotation devices. On top of that, the boat crew stay on board the boat and watch the snorkelers as an extra safety measure. So, you’re safe!
The coral reef is sometimes found in very shallow areas on the reef, like at Sand Key Lighthouse. Some parts of that area are only two feet under the surface. That means you can really see the vibrant colors of the fish and the coral colonies. Just float above the coral, relax, and look down. Breath through your snorkel and you could float there for hours!
Key West snorkeling is never the same twice, either. The conditions out on the reef and time of year are only the beginning of the long list of things that make every snorkel venture unique and exciting. You really never know what you’re going to find out there. Key West is lucky to be near such an exciting natural resource. Snorkeling the reef really is up there on the list of top things to do in Key West.
The tiny sub tropical island of Key West, FL holds many many accommodations per square foot, offering an amazing variety of choices for such a small island. If you want your Key West FL hotel to be a private guest house with only a few rooms, then head for Old Town. Here, it sees almost every other conch house is a Key West FL hotel! Sometimes you can hardly tell it’s a guest house, except for a small sign. The guest houses are a trademark of Key West, and it’s easy to tell why they are of the most popular types of Key West FL hotels
If you seek thrills, get yourself a place on a snorkeling or scuba trip. The wonders of the marine world never cease to amaze, and it’s on the list of top ten things to do while on a Key West FL vacation.
Feeling lazy? Well, your Key West FL vacation doesn’t have to be all about thrills and water sports. You can still enjoy the coral reef by taking a glass bottom boat tour. You just ride out in a large air-conditioned boat and look at the coral through a glass floor. What could be easier and more perfect for a relaxing Key West FL vacation?
Don’t forget to book yourself a room the perfect Key West FL hotel, too. We have something for everyone, from small guest houses to large resorts. It’s your Key West FL vacation, so do it your way!
Key West, FL
Whether you are looking forward to some world class sportfishing or completing the Duval Crawl, Key West FL has all you could ever want in a tropical vacation. From our quaint Old Town neighborhoods to the amazing living coral reef just off our shores, there is so much to do you’ll find yourself planning to come back again and again. The friendly service you’ll find everywhere on the island, to the charming people you’ll meet while visiting will beckon you back even for more and more. Key West FL has a thriving art scene, with galleries lining the sidewalk on our popular Duval Street and surrounding area. We also have world-reknowned accommodations in the form of resorted Conch houses. These quaint cottages are unique to Key West, their architecture a blend of Victorian and Bahamian styles.
And let’s not forget North America’s only living coral reef, just a few miles offshore from Key West, FL. The beautiful coral reef can be enjoyed by snorkeling, scuba diving, or fishing. Charter boats galore can be found either at Key West’s Historic Seaport or at Charterboat Row. Walk the docks and choose a boat for an exciting half day or full day of charter fishing in Key West FL. You’ll also notice other types of boats at the docks: sunset cruise catamarans, historic schooners, and dive boats. You can do it all, from parasailing to snorkeling to a dinner cruise at sunset. Some boats really do it all… they take you snorkeling, parasailing, jet ski tours, kayaking, and sunset cruise. They usually provide complimentary beverages as well, and sometimes lunch. Everything you need for your water sports will be provided: life preservers, snorkels, masks and fins plus kayaks, if you choose to go kayaking on your do-it-all cruise in Key West FL.
If you love nature and animals, why not try a Dolphin tour or Eco tour? Sometimes these activities are combined into one trip, and since we can’t swim with the dolphins because it disturbs them, viewing them is often accompanied by a kayaking excursion in another area away from the Dolphin’s playground. Or sometimes a Dolphin tour is combined with a sunset cruise excursion. Either way, what a lovely way to spend the afternoon or evening.
Key West FL is also fun for land-lubbers. Duval Street is the center of activities, with restaurants, shops and bars as far as the eye can see from one end to the other. You could spend all day hopping from place to place up and down Duval. This is affectionately termed the Duval Crawl since by the time you’ve hit a couple spots you might be a bit impaired. Not recommended for long term use!
However which way you spend your fun time in Key West, FL, we’re pretty sure you’ll have a great vacation, and maybe you’ll even want to come back for more. Just ask thousands of repeat customers, Key West is paradise on earth.