by Shayne Benowitz

Fury Girl (center) with friends Alecia and Bob

Fury Girl (center) with friends Alecia and Bob

It’s easy to entertain guests when they come for a visit in Key West. Quite simply, I take them to work with me. When my family came down over the winter holidays, they spent all day on the Ultimate Adventure and watched the sunset on the Commotion. The plan was the same when my best friends came to visit over New Years. Recently, I had a long lost childhood friend make a visit to the Keys with his fiancé. What did we do? Hopped aboard the afternoon snorkel trip, of course!

Passengers awaiting Cottrell Key snorkeling

Passengers awaiting Cottrell Key snorkeling

We sailed west to Cottrell Key, one of the secret Key West Snorkeling Spots for Fury Water Adventures. Cottrell is a destination we do not head to very often. The wind conditions have to be just right. Instead of the barrier reef, Cottrell is a patch reef full of soft sponge coral. It fosters a rather different set of marine life species, and I told my friends that the times I’ve snorkeled at Cottrell I’ve seen some of the biggest fish of my life. I’ll never forget the massive goliath grouper I spotted resting in the shade underneath our catamaran or the stingray whose wingspan fluttered at eight feet underneath me! One of top my Key West Snorkeling Tips would be to visit Cottrell Key if the conditions are right.

Hemingway's fishing platform

Hemingway’s fishing platform

We sat aboard the bench at the top deck (the best seat in the house, if you ask me), and enjoyed a tranquil sail through the Northwest Channel. The ocean’s beauty never ceases to amaze me, and it was a gorgeous sea green aqua. I always get a little thrill when we pass the old Hemingway fishing platform where he used to spend his days on the hunt for game fish back in the 1930s.

Key West Snorkeling Spots Cottrell Key Spiny Urchin

Anthony with spiny urchin

Once we tied up to the mooring ball, I couldn’t wait to jump in. The visibility was great! One of our crewmembers, Anthony, was quick to point out to me the abundance of spiny urchins on the seafloor, something you rarely see at the barrier reef south of us. The soft sponge coral is also unique to the Cottrell Key area. Snorkeling is such a relaxing and enjoyable experience, and any time I get to swim in the ocean I’m thrilled. My friend, Bob, was impressed with the anemone that he spotted, and his fiancé, Alecia, was excited to see a manta ray gliding by. I spotted a couple varieties of conch on the seafloor, which I had never actually seen before.

All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon snorkeling. For the sail back to Key West, we claimed our spot on the upper deck and enjoyed the service that Fury is known for: pitchers of beer circulated by friendly crewmembers and cups that never go empty!

Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer working on her debut novel. For more travel stories and a daily dose of what’s cool around the globe visit her Wanderlust Website at

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Last Updated 10/29/2021