For a real taste of the tropics, a day trip from Miami to Key West is the ticket. Key West is the ultimate destination, and getting there is only half the fun. It’s a long way down the Keys island chain, 100+ miles to Key West at the very end, with a lot to see along the way. In the cool comfort of a state of the art motorcoach, it’s easy to sit back and let someone else do the driving. Once out of fast-track Miami, mile marker by mile marker, the ride is a wonderful change of pace. Visually, the Florida Keys looks and feels different. The day is brighter as the water sparkles in shades of turquoise and views from the bridges (42 of them) are spectacular. Island by island the architectural style changes from Miami trendy to colorful island funk.
Spring break on a Caribbean island without leaving the U.S. – Key West! Pack up the family and come on down to bask in the warmth of the tropical sun, hang out in shorts and flip-flops, dive into a myriad of watersport activities and visit fun and interesting places beyond the bars along Duval Street.
Rather than being repositories of great works of art or world-class collections of artifacts, Key West museums, just like the eccentric island itself, are diverse, unusual, and intriguing. By global standards, their holdings are not impressive, however, they are places of multiple layers, each reflecting the colorful history and past of the island. The house museums, Ernest Hemingway Home, Truman Little White House, Audubon House, for example, are important on two counts: as historic buildings and for their associations with the legendary figures who resided or visited. The Customs House, East Martello Museum, Mel Fisher Museum, Lighthouse Museum too, each important historical structures in their own right also house interesting and diverse exhibits.
Sunsets everywhere are spectacular phenomena of color and light in motion, all beautiful events with a universal resonance. But in Key West, they are all this and more. On this speck of an island at the southernmost point in the U.S., sunset watching is a ritual. Here, sunsets are celebratory gatherings. Watching the sun dip down where the horizon meets the sea in the company of friends, family and perfect strangers is ritual shared. There is a mystique to sunsets, especially here. No one tires of the experience. Locals, old timers and visitors alike are moved by the supernatural beauty of them. Sunsets are best seen from the Gulf, or west, side of the island. An hour or so before sunset, the westward gathering begins. Spent and now relaxed after a day in the sun, people begin drifting towards favorite watching spots around the island to share the experience. What evolves out of sun, sky, water and air is never the same twice. At times, the sky fires up in broad sweeps of pink orange or crimson gold; other times it’s moody and melancholy in greys and silvers; yet others, it’s soft calming purple blue, edges shaded in pink. The unknown is the beautiful part. How it turns out is totally unpredictable. Who knows, you might even be the one to see the elusive green flash!
Image courtesy of Fury Water Adventures
Summertime weather calls for sunshine and warm temperatures, and the living in Key West is tropical. Translation: hot and humid. However, Key West has great ways to cool off while still enjoying the island’s natural beauty. Summer is considered by many to be the best time to visit. It’s not as crowded as during the winter season and the crowd that does head to the southernmost city is laid-back and mellow. Breezes are balmy, seas calm, water clear and just-right warm; fishing is great, snorkeling perfect, lobster season starts, fun festivals happen throughout.