If you’re planning a vacation to Key West, chances are you want to spend plenty of time outdoors and on the water. After all, when you’re on an island, the water is always beckoning. Key West is home to a unique marine ecosystem as it’s positioned where the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico meet at the southernmost end of the continental United States. The Atlantic Ocean supports Key West’s coral reef, the third largest in the world, and the Gulf of Mexico is home to shallow sand flats and mangrove islands critical to nurturing juvenile fish and birds. There are so many ways to discover Mother Nature both on and off the water in Key West, and here are a few of our favorite ways.
Local’s Eco Tour- The only day trip in Key West designed for you to discover both the Atlantic Ocean’s coral reef and the Gulf of Mexico’s backcountry, Fury Water Adventure’s Local’s Eco Tour is a must do for the true nature nut. Spend the day snorkeling the reef, kayaking through mangrove islands and relaxing on a sandbar beach with the expertise of one of their guides to explain everything. It’s a true hands on eco adventure and you’ll come away with a brand new appreciation for Key West’s ecosystem.
Glass Bottom Boat- For those who would rather stay dry and still discover Key West’s coral reef, step aboard The Pride of Key West, the only glass bottom boat on the island. You’ll cruise out to Key West’s coral reef and gaze at coral formations and tropical fish through their “windows to the sea” all while a guide narrates everything you’re looking at. The trip also includes a great harbor tour where you’ll learn all about Key West’s quirky history.
Fort Jefferson & Dry Tortugas Day Trip- If you’re up for a day of adventure, head 70 miles west of Key West to Fort Jefferson & Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the high speed Yankee Freedom. You’ll cruise past countless uninhabited keys to a truly unspoiled paradise. Tour the fort, go snorkeling and learn about its fascinating history. Just be ready for a long day out at sea.
Mangrove Kayak Tour- For an eco adventure at a more relaxed pace, head to Lazy Dog at Hurricane Hole and rent kayaks or opt for a kayak tour. You’ll head out through the channel to paddle through mangroves. Keep your eyes peeled on the seafloor for juvenile fish and even sharks and manatees. It’s a great workout and a great way to experience the water.
Standup Paddleboard Tour- Also at Lazy Dog, rent standup paddleboards or opt for a lesson and tour. You’ll see what the craze is all about once you take your first stroke with the paddle and practice balancing on these oversized surfboards perfect for exploring Key West’s calm, flat waters.
Rent Bicycles- Of course, there’s eco adventures to be had on land in Key Wset. Rent a bicycle and cruise around the island’s side streets. You’ll see that Key West is lush with palms, banyan trees, bougainvillea and so much beautiful tropical foliage. Stop by the West Martello Garden Club near Smathers Beach or look for Nancy’s Secret Garden for a collection of beautiful plants.
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory- At the southern end of Duval Street, you’ll find the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. It’s a magical little oasis on the island where butterflies flutter around a beautiful climate-controlled glass-enclosed habitat that you can walk through. You’ll learn about the butterflies of the world and experience them firsthand. Remember, it’s good luck if a butterfly lands on you!