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First time to Key West

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Tyler, Texas
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First time to Key West

Hello all! My husband and I are planning our first trip to Key West in Mid April! I've got some questions.

1) Which side of the island is the better side for beaches? The north side or the south side? We both like to snorkel and just be beach bums with white sand and blue water.

2) Any companies with day trips that anybody would recommend? Or a sunset cruise?

3) Would you recommend staying at a hotel or a B&B??

Thanks in advance for any replies!

SDT
Key West
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1. Re: First time to Key West

Our beaches are on the South Side of the island with the exception of the small beach at The Pier House and the even smaller public Simonton beach next door. Keep in mind our beaches are not that good. They can be rocky with sea grass. Don't expect the long, sandy beaches of other parts of a Florida or The Carabbean. Fort Zachary Taylor and Higgs Beach are in Old Town and there is a small public beach at the south end of Duval that rents $5 chairs and has a bar.

For day trips, I prefer the smaller companies. Look at Floridays or Danger Charters. They do sunset cruises as well.

I prefer a B&B. I like the more intimate atmosphere and the chance to stay in a historic home. If price is no object, look at The Gardens or Marquesa Hotel.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: First time to Key West

Well, how long will you be in KW, how are you getting there (flying? driving?) and what's your budget like?

First, make your reservations early. KW tends to fill up pretty quickly that time of year -- well, ANY time of year! However, the end of April is the week-long celebration of the 32nd anniversary of the Conch Republic Independence (April 18-27) culminating in a reinactment of the famous battle of independence between the Conch Republic Military (essentially, a wooden schooner throwing hard loaves of dry, cuban bread) against he repressive forces of the Mainland Overlords (essentially, a bunch of laughing-their-butts-off Coast Guard sailors). After the Repressive Overlords demanded we quit, we naturally hoisted the white flag of surrender and demanded $1 Billion in foreign aid. Even though this was a 40-ish foot schooner, apparently about 25,000 people were actively participating in the battle, only to be overcome by 3 or 4 Coasties with a megaphone. A good time was had by all. Festivities are planned for every day.

There are plenty of things to do and see. KW is really not known for spectacular beaches, but the scenery and history are bucket-list calibre. There are several good snorkling tour companies -- take your pick. The Pier House, where we always stay, has it's own beach (though not good as a snorkeling lauch-point) and is very close to all the action.

You'll definitely want to take in the Hemmingway House, Truman's "Little White House", happy hour at the Chart Room (part of the Pier House complex), a cup of carribean punch at Capt Tony's Saloon, and sunset at Mallory Square. I would also recomment (it's kinda kitchy, but fun) one of the Conch Train tours of the island (they leave from the corner of Duval and Front Street), perhaps even the first day you're there. It's silly, but you learn a lot about the island.

Have fun!

De
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3. Re: First time to Key West

You will absolutely love it...we are going in May for our fourth trip and I can't wait.

If you rent a car you MUST go to Bahia Honda Satte Park about 45 out of Key West ..check it out as it is the best find.

Here are places we love:

Blue Heaven - the BEST breakfast ....

Boat House Happy Hour ..on the docks on the bottom of the Commodore Restaurant - you will not need dinner - food fabulous

Dante's - great food and they have a wonderful pool where you can spend the day and drink frozen drinks...

Two Friends- great food...cool tea shirts

Sabago Tours for Sunst Cruise -and they have great day trips

Irish Kevins ...always lots going on and entertainment is usually really good

We rented cars either through BJ's or Coscto travel and both times got great deals. We waited till two days before we left to rent so not sure if that plays a part in rate.

Faustos - not sure if I spellled that right but it is a market that you can actually order on line and schedule delivery for 5.00 when you arrive in KW.

If you love chocolate chip cookies there are several places on and around Duval that sell the best ..can't remeber name of store but I know one is real close to CVS ..Try one ..last year I made myself wait to the end of the trip as they are soo good I always want another one...

I could go on and on...

Have a fabulous time...you will LOVE IT...

Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: First time to Key West

Ah yes, the chocolate chip cookies! We were sitting at the bar at the Tuna in July when one of the servers started talking about how good they are. Our son and his girlfriend jumped up and ran down the street to get there before they closed and brought some back for all of us to enjoy.

http://www.mattheessens.com/

Orlando, Florida
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5. Re: First time to Key West

Sorry, I got sidetracked from the original question. We really like staying in B&Bs in Key West, but if you want to be on the water, I'd recommend Casa Marina or the Reach. Both have decent beaches for lounging around on, though we've never snorkeled from them. For snorkeling, we'd go to either Higgs Beach (not too far from either resort, but closer to Casa) or Ft. Zach.

You might want to google Key West beaches and see what they look like so you have a good idea of what to expect. Smathers Beach often makes some "top beaches" lists, but all the beaches in Key West are way different from other Florida beaches. While I love Key West and think the beaches are just fine, many people new to the Keys are often disappointed. The water is gorgeous though.

De
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6. Re: First time to Key West

Have you been to Bahia Honda State Park? check it out the most beautiful beaches

http://bahiahondapark.com/

Marblehead, Ohio
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7. Re: First time to Key West

If you have time and budget permits, take the high speed ferry to The Dry Tortugas. Great boat ride, lots of history to learn about and a great beach there too with snorkeling.

Orlando, Florida
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8. Re: First time to Key West

Yes, Bahia Honda is nice and great for a day trip as it's only about 45 minutes from Key West. Sombrero Beach in Marathon is also pretty.

De
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9. Re: First time to Key West

Stay in a condo ..if yoiu can find one in Harbor place you will not be disappointed...we have stayed in one there for 4 years in a row...it is the absolute best condo and view...

Tyler, Texas
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10. Re: First time to Key West

We will just be there for a short trip, April 13-16! We will be flying into KW and just looking for a place to stay at this point. We are used to being spoiled with beautiful beaches and it is sinking in that KW is NOT known for the beaches, but excited about the opportunity for my husband and I to vacation differently. I think this will be quite the adventure and I appreciate everybody's responses!

Edited: 16 February 2014, 00:38