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Sunday on the Island Adventure

Ballast Key on the way to Woman Key for kayaking.

by Shayne Benowitz

This is officially my new favorite Fury trip! If you’re dying for a beautiful and relaxing day on the water, you absolutely must experience the Island Adventure. Meredith and I hopped on board yesterday for the 3:30pm trip with Captain Anna and her crew Scott and Anthony along with eleven other passengers.

Lately, moon jellyfish have been abundant at the reef, which is not uncommon this time of year. I personally find the jellies enchanting to watch as they drift slowly with their purple and pink tentacles, but when there’s too many in the water they can definitely be a nuisance. No one wants to get stung! Our captains have gotten creative in finding alternative places to snorkel where there aren’t too many jellyfish.

Anna took us to Man Rock, which I’ve never been to before. Slightly west of Man Key, we anchored in a patch of sand that circled an outcropping of coral like a halo. Scott explained that Man Rock is practically off the charts, and since so few people know about it, the coral is extremely healthy and vibrant. The water was so inviting, I couldn’t wait to jump in and explore. We saw a few moon jellies when we first dropped anchor, but nothing to worry about.

Scott was right. The coral was gorgeous with large outcroppings and interesting brain corals and sea fans. Everything was very bright yellow-green. I swam around and saw lots of large yellowtail snappers, a few groupers, and sergeant majors. I came to a hidden cave and decided to swim close and see if anything was lurking underneath. Sure enough, a giant nurse shark, probably six to eight feet long, was snoozing on the sea floor. I called Meredith and Anthony over to come check it out, and a lot of our passengers got to see it too. Very exciting!

Shayne & Meredith on the Cruzan Cat.

We snorkeled a little longer and then got back on the boat to head out towards Woman Key in the Gulf. Meredith and I sat on the bench at the bow and enjoyed a cold Corona while we watched the mangrove islands approaching. We past Ballast Key, which actually has a private home and dock twelve miles offshore surrounded by nothing but uninhabited mangroves–such a cool sight!

We anchored outside of Woman Key and the crew launched kayaks. We paddled to a sandbar offshore and waded around in the crystal clear water. One passenger immediately found a conch shell and Scott waded around to find a sea biscuit, a tiny sea cucumber, and other sea shells. Meredith and I paddled around and spotted what I thought was a conch shell, but Scott explained that it was a welch.

The beautiful sunset.

Next, we were off on another kayak paddle towards the mangroves where we found shade. Scott explained exactly how these amazing trees survive in the saltwater and the integral role they play in our ecosystem. After a little more relaxation at the sandbar, it was time to paddle back to the boat. Sandwiches, chips & salsa, and fresh fruit waited along with more cold drinks.

We cruised back towards the channel just in time to catch the sun sink into the ocean between Sunset Key and Christmas Tree Island. It was absolutely beautiful. There is something about a day spent on the water concluded by a sunset that makes everything feel right in the world. We hope you can experience this feeling with us the next time you’re in Key West.

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