Turquoise Thursday: Florida’s Key West
Taking a bus from Miami with Miami to Key West Bus was the perfect opportunity to see Key West in a day with my limited time in Florida. The 4 hour ride, 272 kilometres, from Miami was well worth the journey because Key West is one of the most beautiful U.S. turquoise destinations I have ever seen. The 14 hour tour provided transportation from my hotel in Miami Beach to Key West, with same day return. It was convenient not having to rent a car and drive myself; this way I was able to sit back, enjoy the ride, and see the sights along the way. When I was dropped off by the bus in Key West it was a short walk to Mile 0 where the U.S. highway begins (and ends in Maine). I was happy to arrive to America’s Caribbean island and its welcoming subtropical climate.
Visiting Key West, known as the U.S. Caribbean, was a pleasant surprise. Driving along the 43 bridges (with the longest bridge being 7 miles) through the Keys (31 islands) is an experience worth taking. Each island has its own unique look and style. With the Atlantic on one side and the gulf of Mexico on the other, the turquoise water glistened as I drove from island to island. Remnants of Flagler’s train can often be sighted along the way to Key West. Traveling to the former richest and biggest City in Florida (in 1870) was breathtaking and bringing me closer to Cuba and the tropics!
As soon as I arrived to Key West the first place I wanted to see was of course the BEACH! I headed straight to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park (named for President Zachary Taylor) to visit the preserved beach in Florida’s southernmost state park. The Department of Environment Protection and Division of Recreation and Parks protect the South-Eastern state park and Civil War fortress. Fort Zachary has been a two-time National Gold Medal Winner for Florida state parks. This park has something for everyone: history, nature- flora and fauna of a sub-tropical location, wildlife-migratory birds, endangered species and butterflies, hiking, and for me…the beach. The park describes its beach as “a sprawling beach of sand and pebbles, and nearby breakwaters teeming with tropical fish, ensure great fun in the sun for both beachcombers and snorkelers.” It truly is a sight to see.
The park is located near the end of U.S. highway 1 and for just $2.50, I spent the day in a turquoise haven laden with one of a kind coral beach stones, shady hammocks, turquoise beach umbrellas and beach chairs, and with a beachside garden in sight. Not far from the beach was a straw hut where you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, bicycles, and snorkel gear. The beach is known for its fabulous snorkelling, marine life, and view of the sunset. While there, I saw a small man of war sting ray (luckily not close to me), baby sting rang, and multiple varieties of fish. To complete my afternoon on the beach, I enjoyed a dark chocolate covered frozen key lime pie on a stick from Cayo Hueso Café (the beach Café), a local delicacy and favorite. It was beyond this world and unlike anything I’ve had before. It was tart and sweet all at the same time. If ever you go to Key West make sure you have a slice of frozen key lime pie on a stick (with white or dark chocolate). It was recommended to me and I’m glad it was or else I might have missed that unique treat.
When I arrived to Key West I thought for a moment that I’d arrived in the Caribbean. It has such a Caribbean flair to it, I no longer felt that I was in the U.S.A. The small wooden houses were rugged and colourful. The wooden shutters on the local homes were open and inviting. The bustling island was busy with tourists scurrying around. The old port town of Key West is surrounded with historic buildings and monuments. Hemmingway’s House, Duval House, Mel Fisher Museum, Maritime Museum, and the Truman Annex are among some of the iconic sights I saw on my quick tour. As an educator and more specially an English and social studies teacher, there is so much to learn from the Keys that I can take back to my classroom. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect place to visit within the U.S.A., with endless warm turquoise waters, culture, nature, and history. It was almost as if I wasn’t in the U.S.A. at all.
Visiting Key West for the day was well worth the journey, but it was a bit of a tease because I wanted to stay longer. Now that I got a taste of the Keys I want to return. The trip allowed me the opportunity to sample a little bit of what the Keys has to offer and to figure out if it’s a place for me. Indeed it is, and I would like to return there again someday to explore more of what Key West and the other Keys have to offer. Since the Keys are known for water sports I’d like to return to experience some of them.
*Media Coverage for Miami to Key West Bus