From sun-drenched beaches to fascinating educational opportunities, Key West is made up of both the expected and unexpected. This gorgeous island-city off the coast of the Florida Keys hides many treasures both on and off-shore, and ShoreTrips is your guide to this slice of paradise!
Before Ponce de Leon’s fateful visit to what would eventually become Florida, what we now know as Key West was inhabited by the Calusa and Tequesta people. Eventually Spain established a fishing village on this beachfront region, naming it “Cayo Hueso” or “bone cay” for the supposed bones of natives that the Spanish left littered on the beach (although more likely it was a reference to the low level of the reef). In 1822 Matthew Perry sailed the schooner Shark to Key West and claimed the island for the United States.
The tropical savanna climate in Key West barely differs between its coldest month (January) and its warmest month (July). As a tropical area, Key West experiences wet and dry seasons, with the most rainfall falling between May and October and the island driest between November and April. Despite its humid climate, Key West is actually the driest city in the state of Florida.
A rehabilitation center for sick or injured native species, the McCoy Indigenous Park is dedicated to the preservation of the future of Key West’s diverse wildlife population. The Indigenous Park also captures and rehabilitates Key West chickens with the help of the City of Key West for the eventual goal of finding their forever homes in the community. You can drop by the rehabilitation center from 9 AM to 5 PM everyday and visit the patients for yourself; every kind of animal from land turtles, sea mammals, wild birds, and more. Those that can be released are sent back into the wild, but those unable to survive again in the wild are used for educating the public on the importance of these beautiful creatures.
For a stunning wildlife experience, head down to the Key West Butterfly And Nature Conservancy. This butterfly park houses 50-60 different species of live butterflies in a glass enclosure. The conservatory features gorgeous waterfalls, flowering plants, and several species of birds that are non-threatening to butterflies. During a walk through this sun-filled conservatory, you’ll see various shades of fluttering wings and feathers of all shades. This is a fantastic opportunity for an up-close-and-personal encounter (and photo opportunity) with some of the most beautiful tropical wildlife in the world.
Journey to 1856, the year the ship Isaac Allerton sank off the coast of the reef of the Florida Keys, at Key West’s Shipwreck Museum. This ship was discovered in 1985, part of an unusual trade in Key West of salvaging the frequent shipwrecks, which crashed due to the dangerous reefs off the coast of Key West. The waters surrounding Key West were considered some of the most hazardous in the world, and with at least 100 passing by the island every day, it’s no wonder that the island averaged a shipwreck every week. And for many people on the island, these shipwrecks were their livelihood; they watched day and night, and when a ship went down, the wrecking crew scrambled to make their way to the wreck first for the best bounty and a bigger share of the prize, as well as to save the lives of the flailing ship’s crew. The Museum tells this amazing story through actors, artifacts, and simulations of the wreck of the Isaac Allerton, the richest shipwreck in Key West’s history. Come live this amazing adventure in person!
One of the most iconic symbols of Key West, the Key West Lighthouse was built in 1825 before being destroyed by a hurricane in 1846. After its restoration, the lighthouse continued to operate until 1969, when it was decommissioned and converted into a museum. Today you can climb all 88 steps of the lighthouse and survey the ocean from the perspective of the lights themselves, or simply take advantage of the statuesque presence of the lighthouse against the brilliant watercolors of the sunset.
Fifteen years ago, the captain of this catamaran started to have encounters with dolphins on a beautiful white sand bank. Over the years, he and his crew established a trusting relationship with a pod of wild dolphins by showing patience and respect.
The outcome of this relationship is your opportunity to accompany a team of naturalists who have spent years on the water in the company of wild dolphins. You’ll observe them hunting, courting, communicating, and teaching their young. You’ll do this in style, on board a dolphin tour boat with rooms for changing, a refrigerator, a freshwater shower, a restroom, and over 400 sq. ft. of deck space, partially shaded. This boat also has an underwater microphone so you can hear the dolphin’s unique vocalization.
There’s no better way to get a feel for Key West than to experience this combination scavenger hunt/pub crawl through a town known for its bars. Along the way, the clues you and your team will be provided with will introduce you to many legendary tales, as well as interesting, often famous, sights. Learn all about this terrific party town by traveling from one local hotspot to another!
Upon arrival, you’ll be divided into teams and your clues will send you off in different directions. You’ll receive “2-for-1” drink coupons for each place you visit so you can whet your whistle. All of these “watering holes” are also restaurants, so those under the drinking age will be allowed to join in this whirlwind adventure. The contest ends at a mystery location, but keep in mind that this is not a race, as the winning team is determined by the most correct answers. So relax and enjoy, but keep your eyes open for the answers to the clues.
Every evening, people crowd into Mallory Square in downtown Key West for the nightly sunset celebration. A great way to enjoy the sunset, while avoiding the crowds, is on this wonderful champagne catamaran sail around Key West’s Historic Harbor.
Kick back, relax, and have a glass of your favorite beverage as you watch the sun melt into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s probably one of the world’s most gorgeous sunsets. This is a wonderful excursion for all ages.
Complimentary champagne, beer, wine, sangria, margaritas and soda are all included in the price of this tour.
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