So you’ve booked a cruise and Key West is a port of call. Lucky you! This quirky island city at the end of the Florida Keys is a perfect destination for day-trippers. At only eight square miles, it’s pedestrian-friendly and almost everything in Old Town can be discovered on foot. Since most cruises are in port for only a half-day, you’ll need to prioritize your time in order to get a taste of what the island is all about. These are our favorite activities for exploring Key West as a cruise guest.
Key West is home to the third largest reef in the world and your stop here is the perfect opportunity to explore it on a snorkel excursion with Fury Water Adventures. The three-hour tour takes you seven miles offshore where you’ll spend a full hour snorkeling amidst colorful coral and tropical fish. On the sail back to Key West, you’ll enjoy all you can drink beer and wine. Depending on what time your cruise ship departs, you should still have an hour or two to explore Key West by land.
For a bird’s-eye-view of Key West’s island paradise and a thrill ride that’s actually more peaceful than you might expect, embark on an hour-long parasail adventure with Fury. You’ll soar 300 feet in the air, enjoy a dip in the water and snap plenty of Instagram-worthy pix. It’s a great way to get a taste of Key West’s water sports and still have plenty of time on land to soak in Key West’s chill vibes.
Conch Tour Train
Hop aboard the Conch Tour Train for a 90-minute ride through town where you’ll learn about Key West’s unique architecture and quirky history. You’ll be a Key West pro by the time the tour is over and ready to explore the island on foot.
Key West’s Old Town is only a few square miles wide, meaning it’s easy to cover a lot of ground by bike in a short amount of time. Rent bicycles, grab a map and get lost on quaint side streets lined with palm trees and conch cottages, punctuated with bougainvillea. A few points of interest include the Key West Cemetery, Southernmost Point and the Key West Lighthouse.
Key West is famous for Duval Street and its wealth of laidback, yet raucous bars, many blaring live music day and night. Whether you sign up for an organized tour or take the reigns of your own Duval Crawl, an afternoon bar hopping on Duval Street is an afternoon well spent. A few of our favorite spots include Captain Tony’s, Sloppy Joe’s and Fogarty’s.
Visit the home that Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway lived in during the 1930s with his second wife Pauline. This was Hemingway’s most prolific writing period and you can tour the home, as well as his writing studio, pool and cat cemetery. The property is still crawling with descendants of his beloved six-toed cat Snowball. Opt for a tour with one of the property’s expert guides to get the most out of your visit.
There’s perhaps no better place to soak up Key West’s charm than along the Historic Seaport where fishermen clean their catch and sailboat masts sway in the breeze. There’s also a great variety of salty, open air bars and restaurants to while away the afternoon. Conch Republic Seafood Company and Schooner Wharf are both classic spots with drink specials and conch fritters on the menu, as well as live music. You can also try the new Key West Brewery for beers brewed onsite and a tasty bar menu.