Experience the true wild side of Key West!
“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.” – Ernest Hemingway
This quote by Ernest Hemingway has resonated within every aspect of my life since the first time I read these words. The ambiance and islands of Key West inspired writers like Hemingway to live a life outside of the norm. The exhilarating experience of Duval St in Key West should absolutely be on every ones bucket list. The smell of street food mixed with warm sea air, everyone singing off tune renditions of classic eighties songs has the welcoming and relaxed feel of a smaller Bourbon Street. Although a night on Duval St. can be a wild and liberating experience, it shouldn’t be your wildest adventure in Key West.
After you get your fix of Karaoke, island drinks, and late night Cuban food, venture into the natural side of Key West. Picturesque sunsets, world class fishing, epic snorkeling, bugging and climbing coconut palms on secluded beaches will help you discover your inner islander. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Key West before, and you actually remember the trip, you probably think there is no private beaches accessible without a boat, right? Well although small, there is still one untouched secret location where you can escape all the herd following tourists.
Not much in life is more picture perfect and memorable than a sunset. The stunning colors bouncing off the wave tops sends a relaxing feeling through the soul of any man. Imagine sitting with your toes curled in the sand as the warm breeze passes. The smell of your fresh caught snapper and lobster is cooking on the grill. Then you wash it all down with a coconut you scored climbing barefoot just for the thrill. Its this short moment in time in which you realize how amazing the true wild side of Key West is. This secluded wild side of Key West will cost you an incredibly small 7 dollars. Even the locals don’t know about this hidden gem.
Directions to your secluded beach start on famous HWY 1. Whether driving or flying, Hwy 1 is the main vein of the island. Take Hwy 1 south towards downtown and turn right onto the famous Duval St. Make your way past Ernest Hemingway’s house, and within a block of the legendary mile 0 MILE MARKER. Turn left on Southard St and try not to get distracted by Jimmy Buffet’s eccentric Green Parrot Bar.
Continue through The Truman Annex neighborhood, named for the countries 33rd president, Harry S Truman, who vacationed to the island on many occasions. Once you pass though the Truman Annex, the road bends left as you pass the Coast Guard Cutter, Ingham, which is now a museum. Ft. Zachary Taylor is the destination you are looking for. The nations southernmost fort during the civil war is now a modern attraction with iguanas the size of dogs. This destination has everything for a large family with small children, to a couple looking for a romantic retreat.
You can fish right from the beach for hog fish, snapper and trophy tarpon. Climb a coconut palm for fresh coconut juice like a native islander. Snorkel the clear blue water covered with sea life, then relax in the warm sun. Add some butter to your fresh catch on the grill, mix some rum to your freshly harvested coconuts and your island vacation cant be any more wildly free! Now its time to take advantage of your own private beach and one of the best sunsets you will ever experience.
After stepping back in time exploring the fort, take a short hike around the moat surrounding the fort, continue as the trail disappears into the brush. The trail looks like it ends but continue on the small foot trail though the brush. Hidden behind some small trees and brush nestled against the US Navy property fence, is a small 50 yard section of untouched beach. The water is perfect for fishing and snorkeling, but watching the sunset will leave a lasting memory you will never forget. Lay down a towel, stick a straw in the cooled coconut and let all your worries in the world slip away with the sun.
There is something special that touches the wild soul of a man in the Keys. The island and the Keys have provided more than most wild places I’ve traveled. Don’t pay 50 dollars for one stone crab or lobster meal, when a snorkel, mask and pair of gloves will give you a free meal for the whole family. Nothing can be more rewarding and satisfying then surviving off the land.
Once you have let your wild side lose, and have seen the worlds best sunset, its finally time to head down to Duval St for live music at Irish Kevin’s. Although you really cant go wrong at any bar, I believe Irish Kevin’s has the best atmosphere in town. Irish Kevin himself will not only play classic hits from the 80’s and 90’s, but he will give you a hard time and mock you while doing it. Its a mix of comedy and entertainment all wrapped into one. And if you’re Irish you drink for free!
Best Oysters: Half Shell Oyster Bar
Best Breakfast: Havanas
– Cuban Style French toast and Salmon egg Benedict
Best Sandwich : Kim’s Kuban
– Cuban Sandwich
Best Shirt: Key West Bait and Tackle