6 Fresh Ways to Get on the Water in Key West
Worldly wine sailing excursions; day-tripping via seaplane to a remote national park island; and snorkeling, sailing, and sea kayaking all in one fell swoop – the hardest part won’t be finding a way to get on the water in Key West, but a way to fit all these unique aquatic adventures in during your next visit.
Day-Trip to a Remote Island Rife with Wildlife
Seventy miles west of Key West, an expanse of tropical water contains seven tiny islands, scarcely more than a series of dots on a map. Welcome to the waters and islands of Dry Tortugas National Park, one of America’s most remote national parks. And as we all know, where people don’t go, animals come in droves, so a day trip to the Dry Tortugas’s remote and pristine wilderness comes teeming with marine life to explore via snorkeling, diving, even a formidable fort. Your ultimate transport there? A seaplane with Key West Seaplane Adventures, which chauffeurs you while providing a birds-eye view of the flats, mangrove islands, shipwrecks, and more.
Sandbar Hop like a Local
What’s better than dropping anchor and stretching out in a secluded stretch of sand in the middle of the ocean? Getting to experience multiple versions of it in one day. And in Key West, you’ll find every type of sandbar atmosphere available, from private oases where you can hunt for shells or simply sprawl out to popular party spots where beach chairs, local boaters, and beer are always a-flowing. Book with Soul Shine Adventures to customize your trip based on your preferences, then cue the Jimmy Buffett.
Sail around the World without Ever Leaving The Gulf
Sunset sails are a dime a dozen in the Keys, but there’s only one that can transport you to different countries around the globe at the same time. That’s because Danger Charters two-hour Wind and Wine sunset sail doesn’t serve your gas-station blends, but rather a carefully curated list of eight different varietals from all over the world – usually four red, three white, and always a Champagnoise. In fact, wine aficionados have raved about the quality of the selection so much, the tour has even caught the attention of Coastal Living Magazine, which hailed it as one of the top two sunset sail tours in all of North America. Add in hors d’oeuvres, like Caprese skewers and smoked gouda summer sausage, and that day-glow sunset melting in the ocean horizon, and you’ve got the makings of an experience that is ageless – much like a fine wine.
Dive into the Deep to Spot as Many Fish Species as You Can
Just seven miles south of Key West, the easily accessible USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg wreck is the second-largest artificial reef in the world with plenty of nooks to explore along its bridge, main deck, and giant dish antennas. So many nooks in fact that the 523-foot long vessel isn’t just a popular site for divers to explore, but marine life itself: Since being scuttled in 2009, the ship has become home to a whopping 200 species of fish, including giant parrotfish, barracuda, wahoo, sharks, and mutton snapper. While snorkelers do frequent the site, it is better to suited to divers, so if you’re one of them, inquire with the concierge team at Sunset Key Cottages, which can tailor a custom dive based on guests’ interests and experience levels.
Sail, Snorkel & Sea Kayak All in One Fell Swoop
Can’t decide if you want to spend the day snorkeling, kayaking, or cruising on the open water? You don’t have to with Java Cat’s half-day Eco Tour. Combing Key West’s favorite on-the-water activities into one eco trip, you and five others indulge in sailing through the Key West National Wildlife Refuge on a 31-foot catamaran, followed by a paddle through a mangrove forest in the calm waters of an area known as “The Lakes,” then snorkeling in the refuge’s crystal-clear coral and sponge gardens. No kayaking or snorkeling experience is necessary and all the essentials are provided, including a grand finale meal of fresh fruit, the famous curried chicken salad from Key West’s Fausto’s Deli, and artisan bread from Coles Peace Bakery.
Snag a Trophy Fish…& Cook Your Catch
While the waters surrounding Key West and the Lower Keys are best-known for their deep-sea catches of sailfish, wahoo, and tuna, exciting fishing takes place much closer to the coast, in the shallowest of flats to backcountry spots. And there’s only one man who knows these spots like the back of his hand: Captain Mark Schmidt of Sun Dancer Charters, who has been fishing here since 1980. Great for families, his half- or full-day charters take place aboard either his 27-foot Conch or 18-foot Back Country Pro and are all custom designed depending on the anglers’ preferences. So whatever your trophy fish may be – a record-weight 120-pound tarpon or maybe something a little more modest – Schmidt will help you hook it. And when you stay at Sunset Key Cottages, Latitudes – the resort’s on-site and award-winning restaurant – will do you the added bonus of also cooking it to your liking.
Where to Stay Sunset Key Cottages