By: Karrie Carnes
When most of the country can only dream of winter’s end, spring has already sprung in Key West! The skies are clear, the sand is warm and the palm trees are swaying – a perfect recipe for chasing away the winter blues. March is also synonymous with Spring Break! During this time, the island is at full party capacity. In addition to busy beaches and street parties, here are a few of the happenings on the island this month:
Make Some Noise in the Conch Republic
You can hardly take 10 steps in Key West without seeing the shell of a queen conch either flying on the Conch Republic flag, decorating the doorstep of a house or piled high in a gift shop. These native saltwater snails have become icons of the Florida Keys and Key West, and for more than 50 years the island has been celebrating them with a unique tradition – the annual conch-blowing contest! Contestants of all ages pucker up with the hope of making a conch shell honk. Register for this zany competition at the Oldest House (322 Duval St.) or simply enjoy the cacophony (or should we say conch-ophony!) of sounds.
Get Your Groove On at a Spring Break Party
If you’re looking for a party, then be sure to check out some of the Spring Break hot spots where the fun never stops. The biggest beach party on the island is at Smathers Beach, where coeds soak up the rays from dawn ‘til dusk. If a pool party is more your style, then head to Dante’s Pool Bar where house and hip-hop DJs play all day and busy bartenders mix mean drinks. The ultimate on-the-water party is hands down Fury’s All Day Water Adventure, which includes jet skis, snorkeling, parasailing and more. The lower blocks of Duval Street – and bars like Fat Tuesday, Lazy Gecko and Rick’s – are the epicenter of Spring Break, especially after the sun has set.
Celebrate the Birthday of Tennessee Williams
Award-winning playwright Tennessee Williams called Key West home for more than three decades, and as such the island celebrates his birthday with an entire month of events. Best known for the plays The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Williams was part of a robust Key West literary tradition that continues today. From poetry and painting contests to staged readings and film series, numerous events are scheduled in his honor in March. Be sure to check out the special exhibition at 513 Truman Avenue.
Commune With Nature on a Paddleboard
The flat calm waters of Key West are the perfect place to try the fastest growing water sport today – standup paddleboarding! You’ll gain a greater appreciation for the diverse beauty of our marine environment since standing allows you to see so much more of what’s happening beneath the water. Be sure to explore the mangroves, which are nursery grounds for many types of fish and birds, and are the perfect place to just float on your board and commune with nature. Rent a board with Fury Water Adventures and have one of their experienced staff give you a lesson on how to paddle and where to explore.
Compete in a Fly-Fishing Tournament
Considered the holy grail of saltwater fly-fishing, Permit are an elusive fish and a challenge for even the most skilled of anglers. Try your hand at fly-fishing for Permit in the Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament this month. This catch-and-release tournament requires photographic evidence of each fish caught, and anglers earn extra points if they place a special identification tag on their fish before releasing it.