Each Key along the chain has its own style. Some are basic, some are exclusive enclaves, some are State Parks, some are trashy, some are too small to care, but all of them are beautiful. Driving the Keys feels like you are in the Caribbean, oh wait, I AM in the Northern Caribbean, Yeah!!
It's actually a long drive (100 miles)
once you enter the first Key (Key Largo) until you reach Key West. The waters are turquoise blue, the air smells salty, and you see mangrove plants all around the islands. This is a boaters paradise. I've never seen so many, and of all shapes and sizes.
Key West itself is different than all the other Keys. It was once the largest city in Florida in the 1800's. It has it's own unique style and charm. The houses are all of the old tropical bungalow style
with trees and plants growing out of every nook and cranny. The people are very laid back and casual from the poor to the rich. Everyone genuinely seems happy to be in such a beautiful and amazing place. I haven't been to the tropics or Hawaii (what's up with that?) but I imagine it's a similar "Island" attitude that everyone is enjoying.
Not to make it sound too nice, but being paradise has it's down sides too. Probably the most annoying thing is that it is very touristy in places. All along the way you see places hawking tee-shirts and shells, etc. Down at the waterfront in Key West is also a bit like an amusement park in a few places. And what's up with all the chickens running around town?!
Of course the main hang-out in Key West is Duval Street. I have never see so many restaurants, bars, clubs, bistros, Inn's, B&B's, museums, and shops crammed into one mile.
This is the winter off season and it is still crammed with people. Since KW is such an historical place, there are many museums and attractions to see, like Ernest Hemingway's house.
This is where he lived in the 30's with his second wife Pauline,
whom he eventually left for his third wife Martha and moved to Cuba. His personal life aside, this is the house where he wrote some of his best works like, "A Farewell to Arms", and "To Have and Have Not".
I'm a Hemingway fan, my personal favorite is "The Sun Also Rises", it's also a classic flick with Tyrone Powers and Errol Flynn. Even if your not into Hemingway, it's a cool house, built by an old sea captain that is one of the best kept in town.
Anyway, I made it on time to catch my boat to Dry Tortugas NP in the morning. I'll catch you on the way back.
Having a blast in the Conch Republic!
So I finally made it to Key West! This is the furthest point south in the U.S.A.