Key West, situated in the Florida Keys, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, is the southernmost point of the United States, approximately 90 miles North of Cuba.
What is amazing about Key West is that such a small town, with an area of only four- by two-mile, can hold so many and diverse attractions for the visitors from historical heritage sites, lively entertainment to the countless Bars ( and Pool Bars !!!) , breathtaking coral reef scuba diving and exciting offshore fishing .
The historic origins of the town include the Spanish conquistadores, Caribbean pirate days, immense treasures and the “wreckers” exploits.
The activity of the first settlers city of Key West was the lucrative scavenging of shipwrecks of unfortunate vessels that hit the treacherous reefs and sandbars of the of the island.
One of these shipwrecks was the Santa Margarita, a 17th-century Spanish galleon, carrying an immense fortune of gold and precious stones found forty years ago in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
There are several museums, military outposts and fortresses all over the island displaying the relics, artifacts, and documents of those historic and adventurous days.
For the less culture orientated travelers, more inclined to the Bohemian scene, there is Duval Street and adjoining quarters, an entertainment district that can compete with New Orleans with so many live music bars, or burlesque and drag shows theaters.
All action lead to Mallory Square, a huge plaza from where you can view the most colorful sunset on earth and watch juggler’s acts while tasting a huge variety of seafood.
What is most convenient is that all these attractions are walkable and within easy reach.
For the admirers of American literature there is the house, now a museum ,where Ernest Hemingway lived for about ten years until 1940 and wrote “A Farewell to Arms”,” Death in the Afternoon” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls “, considered his best novels.
“Sloppy Joe’s “,Hemingway’s favorite pub and the Sunset Pier are essential pilgrimage sites of Key West
If you are bold enough to risk the unpredictable changes of the weather of the Caribbean waters you can try the challenging offshore fishing expeditions or further open sea boat excursions.
One of the downsides of getting to Key West by car is speed restrictions that you have to observe while crossing the wetlands of the Everglades National Park resulting in trip that takes about four hours.
After experiencing this inconvenience a couple of o times we have tried shuttle bus, which is the best way to admire the scenic drive from Miami to Key West.
The journey with all stops at the various islets took us more than half a day, but that was fully compensated by appreciating the beauty of the Florida Keys island chain in more detail.
During the last visit to Key West, about six month ago, I was very disappointed to find out that one of the best places to watch the customary Gulf of Mexico sunset, a cozy pub, on the top of the “La Concha Hotel”, one of the most iconic lodges of the island, had been replaced by penthouse Jacuzzi and massage parlor .
Furthermore the renovating decoration completed destroyed the “patina” and unique character atmosphere of probably one of the most venerable inns of the islands.
In” retaliation” I will have to look for alternative accommodation for my next trip to Key West.