Located 90 miles from Cuba at the southern most tip of the United States, Key West offers unparalleled access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, it’s about a 14-block walk from one shore to another—a short journey that allows visitors and locals alike to take advantage of everything the seas have to offer. From snorkeling to beach lounging, fishing to wine cruises, Key West serves up an aquatic A-game you can’t find anywhere else.
1. Beach – Key West is approximately two miles wide and four miles long, so a beach is nearly always in sight. We’re fans of Higgs Beach (pictured above), which is conveniently located next to the pier and AIDS memorial. Smathers Beach, Key West’s longest beach that runs along the Atlantic Ocean on the southern shore of the island, is a prime location for sandy acitivites like volleyball and suntanning, and of course, swimming. Head to Fort Zachary Taylor Beach to see the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It’s also a great spot to rent a chair and recline, chat with fellow beach crawlers (it can get busy during high season), or grab a bite from the snack shack.
2. Suba Diving – The entire 120-mile stretch of the Florida Keys contains the United States’ only living coral barrier reef. Just five miles offshore and you can plunge under water and explore this aquatic wonderland. Not only will you experience a pristine ocean view, but trained instructors will point out coral-encrusted ship wrecks, natural coral formations, and the many fish and plantlife found in these treasured waters. It’s no wonder some of the most well-known underwater photographers make their way to Key West.
3. Swim With Dolphins – Arguably the ocean’s sweetest mammel are readily accessible in Key West. You can opt to dolphin watch on one of the many boat tours (where you can also snorkel to discover starfish, rays, and sea turtles) or take a short trip toward Key Largo and actually swim with the friendly fish. One of the best ways to familarize yourself with Key West waters is to get to know the creatures who live there.
4. Fishing – In the 1930s, author Ernest Hemingway could often be found trolling the Key West seas aboard his 38-foot fishing boat looking for tuna, permit, and tarpon—all native fish. Embody Hemingway’s nautical spirit and hit the water; various charters and guides will take you through the best locations, including flats fishing and deep sea fishing. Reconnect with your fisherman roots or discover for the first time one of the most relaxing pastimes in Key West.
5. Sunset Wine Cruise – Ranked as one of the top two sunset sails in North America by Coastal Living magazine, Wind and Wine Sunset Sail boards on the Westin Marina and swiftly takes passangers off the mainland and onto the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A friendly crew of three serves guests a variety of domestic and international wines, along with a wide-selection of cheese, from classsic brie to dill-infused goat cheese. During the two hours aboard, you’ll be able to talk to fellow passangers while soaking in the setting Key West sun as it reflects off the sea. Ocean, vino, and sunset—the perfect close to a day in the water.