Southern Florida Tour - Key West

Donna Meredith on 09 August 2010
Following on from Miami, we had a 167 mile drive ahead of us along US1 over the spectacular Overseas Highway, where at one point it looks like you are going to drive right into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Keys are a string of islands ending with Key West at the southerly most point in the USA and only 90 miles from Cuba. As we wanted to get to Key West as soon as possible we didn’t stop along the way and arrived 2.5 hours later. You notice the difference in the appearance of Key West compared to the other islands as soon as you arrive.

We stayed at the Ocean Key Spa & Hotel at 1 Duvall Street and got an automatic upgrade to a one bedroom suite with sea view and enormous en-suite bathroom. The hotel was perfectly placed next to Mallory Square and Sunset Pier, ideal for celebrating the famed Key West sunsets where locals and tourists all gather to watch street performers perform stunts and magic, browse the vendors, and watch the sun go down. Whilst we were there an enormous Cruise liner docked at Mallory Square – what an awesome sight.

We took the conch tour train (pronounced “conk”) on our first day to get our bearings which was very informative and enabled us to know where everything is so we could explore further. We visited US1's Mile Marker 0, the Southernmost Point in the United States, Ernest Hemingway’s House, Shipwreck Museum, Pirate Soul Museum and even checked out the Key West Cemetery with its hilarious inscriptions on some of the tomb stones. We loved the many lively bars with live music, soaking in the unique atmosphere and the restaurants all served excellent food at very reasonable prices.

On the following day, my husband went on a day’s diving on a large ship called the Vandenberg, a purpose sunk artificial reef and he had a great time in the crystal clear waters.

On our last day we took the glass bottom boat tour in the morning over a beautiful coral reef full of brightly coloured fish and in the afternoon we spent the rest of the day at Fort Zachary Taylor beach, which is close to a pre-Civil War Fort. It is one of the best beaches in Key West, though a little bit rocky. It has restrooms, a decent food and drinks kiosk, chair rentals, picnic tables and BBQ's available. At the end of the day, we even saw a wonderful sunset from the beach – brilliant!!

The next day we set off early for the long drive to Marco Island…