The list of must-do activities in Key West is practically endless, but there’s no better place to start than out on its abundance of beautiful waters. A quick look at a map will tell you why this is the case. Surrounded by a veritable ‘Greatest Hits’ list of the world’s most exquisite bodies of water, Key West abounds with the kind of ocean activities you just won’t find anywhere else.
In fact, the sheer number of choices can be a bit overwhelming. Although you can’t really go wrong in the warm, crystal clear waters of Key West, it might help to narrow things down before you actually start your adventure. That’s why we’ve compiled the following list of Key West water attractions. The final choices are entirely up to you, but our list is certain to have something on it for everyone.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Key West
An exotic new world awaits you under the clear blue waters of Key West, and a snorkeling tour is an ideal way to begin exploring it. Snorkeling is a wonderful experience for people of all skill levels and ages. If you’ve never tried it before, snorkeling allows you a close-up view of Key West’s beautiful menagerie of marine life as well as of its gorgeous coral structures. Key West is an ideal place to grab your snorkel and go!
Most snorkeling tours take place somewhere along the Florida Coral Reef, which is one of the largest reefs in the world and stands approximately six miles off the coast of Key West. The reef sections where you’ll be snorkeling stand in relatively shallow waters– usually under 20 feet deep– and make a beautiful habitat for a dazzling array of marine life.
Snorkeling allows you to have a very personal encounter with these 10,000-year-old reef structures and their inhabitants. Also a popular fishing spot, the Florida reef is home to diverse species such as grouper, snapper, spiny lobster. Depending on location and water conditions, you’ll also likely to encounter species like the African pompano, Wahoo, and even the occasional shark.
There are many great snorkeling opportunities in Key West, but they all share one important thing in common. No matter where you end up snorkeling, you’ll have an up-close encounter with flora and fauna that seem to have come here from some alternate and more beautiful world.
Glass Bottom Boats
Another great way to explore the extravagant underwater life in Key West is by going on a glass bottom boat tour. In at least one important way, a glass bottom boat tour is exactly what you’d expect from the name. They take place on luxurious passenger boats that have large viewing windows installed on the bottom deck. In other words, a glass bottom boat literally puts a new universe right under your feet.
The exact length of the tour depends on the company you go out with, but they typically last between 2-3 hours. During this time, passengers can snack, mingle, and watch in awe as the boat glides over the unique forms of plant and animal life that live in the waters surrounding Key West. These tours are narrated by an expert guide who draws the passengers’ attention to the water’s most striking features and is happy to field any questions.
A glass bottom boat tour is a leisurely yet stunning way to explore the ocean’s mysterious depths. The boats are air-conditioned, dry, and designed for optimum comfort. It’s kind of like riding a luxury yacht over the largest and most beautiful aquarium in the world. There are many different types of tours available, but most of them travel over the magnificent Key West coral reef areas.
Equal parts thrilling, entertaining, and educational, glass bottom boat tours are led by expert guides to a variety of popular destinations in the Key West area. They’re also a great deal of family-oriented fun and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Key West Dolphin Watching
You may or may not have heard of dolphin watching, but it’s one of the most popular water activities in Key West. Some dolphin watching tours feature snorkeling opportunities as well, but the frolicsome dolphins are always the headliners.
During the tour, you’ll ride among bottlenosed dolphins with an expert nautical team. You’ll be an observer in the dolphins’ pristine backcountry playground and witness their playful activities in their natural habitat.
Dolphin tours aren’t designed for the adrenaline junkie or thrill seeker. Key West has plenty of other options for that, but dolphin tours are designed for the nature lover that lives in all of us. They allow passengers to commune with these gentle, intelligent creatures in ways that are more intimate and rewarding than anything you’ve ever experienced.
Deep Sea Fishing Charters
No trip to Key West is complete without at least a day or two of deep sea fishing. The sheer variety of exotic species alone makes Key West one of the deep sea fishing capitals of the world. If it’s tonight’s dinner you’re after, the Key West waters are happy to oblige. Depending on where you go, the area is teeming with delicious table fare like grouper, mutton, snapper, and mackerel, just to name a few.
Captain Pepe Gonzalez with Seize the Day Charters is one of the top guides in all of Key West. His decades of experience will put you onto just the kind of fish you want to target. A day on one of his charters can send you home with the delicious table fish mentioned above, or get you an up-close encounter with one of the toughest game fish in the world. We’re talking sunfish, marlins, tarpon, and, yes, several species of the magnificent shark.
It’s not hyperbole to say that you can have whatever kind of fishing experience you want in the waters around Key West. In addition to the number of available species, the list of fishing sites is incredible as well. Captain Scott Gordon of Too Lethal Charters will be your guide as you explore reef, flats, and wreck fishing in the bountiful waters around Key West.
Deep sea fishing is much more enjoyable when you have a great captain to guide you. Captain Pepe and Captain Gordon are the absolute best in the business. Patient, knowledgeable, and passionate, they’ll help you make enough thrilling deep sea fishing adventures to last a lifetime.