With a tank of gas, overnight bag packed, and dressed in my island gear of a bikini, sundress, and flip flops, I proved with a group of fellow adventureras that Key West can be done and done well in 24 hours. Leaving Fort Lauderdale bright and early, we managed to arrive at the Port of Key West by 1 pm and leave the following day from Mile Marker 0 at 1 pm without missing a step.

I will break down the successful breeze in and breeze out tour of Key West in three simple must dos:

1) Catamaran and Snorkel Tour from Key West Harbor

2) Mallory Square for sunset followed by Duval Pub Crawl til ???

3) Pedicab of historic sites including Southern Most Point, Hemingway’s Home, & more.

With a short series of images, I will highlight our express version of Key West, but please be advised that some things that happen in Key West stay in Key West. So, some of the Conch Republic photos have been censured.

First on the list, get in some water time; after all, that is what the Keys are all about. If you fish, SCUBA, snorkel, and/or sail, you have to experience the warm, turquoise, Caribbean waters of Key West. As the forecast was for moderate winds, light seas, and sun, reservations were made for a three hour snorkeling expedition from Key West’s Harbor, out seven miles to the reef, and back. With Jimmy Buffet and Reggae music, we sailed the catamaran out to the reef. One by one we jumped from the Fury to the water to view Grouper, Nurse Sharks, tropical fish of all kinds, Fan Coral, and more. Once thoroughly exhausted from the early up, drive to Key West, and snorkel, we stumbled up the ladder to booze cruise it back to harbor with margaritas, music, and great company.

Secondly, when in Key West, you must see the sunset from Mallory Square. The colors are certainly amazing, nothing short of spectacular (see image right).  Additionally, for me, it is always a special occasion as in Eastern Florida I don’t have the ability to see such sunsets (and I must add that I don’t get up early enough for a sunrise anymore either). Although the sunset is the focal point, the people watching is unforgettable.  The entertainers from stilt walkers to a feline trainer of a herd of cats with a French accent are surprising to say the least.

After the sun sets, you must partake in the most popular of all activities in Key West, the mighty pub crawl on Duval Street. Some local watering holes that you must visit are: Hog’s Breath, Sloppy Joe’s, Fat Tuesday, Margaritaville, and others. As a new personal favorite, I must add to the list is the Garden of Eden located on the 3rd floor of the Bull Tavern. To be frank, I was a little wet behind the ears in entering the Garden of Eden as never before had I been in a clothing optional bar. Yes, I did see a couple of Full Monties, many topless dancers, and even bottomless dancers. Interestingly enough, the bar provides all patrons with the option of getting professionally body painted. Did our group get painted? Considering the time constraints, we needed to pass, but maybe next time. By the way, no photographs were allowed, no matter how hard we tried. So you will have to experience the Garden of Eden yourself. You really have to see it, to believe it.

Last but not least, one must do a little sightseeing, including Hemingway’s house, Mile Marker 0, and the Southern Most Point. Yes, it is possible to do this much in 24 hours, but that means endurance, a short night’s sleep, and perhaps sightseeing not by foot but by pedicab.

Have you visited Key West? Please add your recommendations and of course Conch Republic stories.

Here’s to more good times and good stories.

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