7 unsuspected gems in Key West

Several places in Key West, Florida have a lot of hype built up around them, like Blue Heaven and Sloppy Joe’s Bar. There are places and things to do that aren’t in every travel blogger’s posts. If you ever wander to the United State’s southernmost city, you’ll find the following to be hidden treasures.

Ibis Bay Resort

Once booming in the 1950’s, Ibis Bay went through years of major decline. People forgot about the place and continued to overlook it, even after major renovations. The retro hotel is fresh, while remaining true to its old-style Keys roots. Sandy lounge spots with hammocks are a treat since Key West is lacking in actual beach area. Every room has its own, quirky style and rescued wildlife hangs out on the property. While remaining kept and crisp, the resort has managed to keep that bright, fun flare that most Keys hotels have long left behind.

Ibis Bay

The Stoned Crab

The Stoned Crab is beside Ibis Bay, conveniently steps away from the outdoor entry rooms. If you love Stone Crab, this is the place to get it. The chef himself treks out each morning to catch fish for Three Hands Fish, the onsite market. Stone Crab claws make their way from the ocean to your plate in mere hours, and the freshness is prevalent in the taste. Pink Shrimp, a sweeter, more tender shrimp selection specific to Key West, are on the menu as well.  Dining in the open-air restaurant is pleasant year round, as the Keys usually don’t see temperatures migrate too far from 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pink Shrimp and Stone Crab

Ernest Hemingway’s home

Ernest Hemingway spent much of his time at his Florida Keys home. The large house exists as a tribute museum to the late writer, and is quite exciting if you are a fan of his work. Memorabilia and educational notes coat the walls, while the home remains closely intact to the way Hemingway left it. The large pool was a marvel feat at the time of construction, and can be seen in working order to this day.

Ernest Hemingway's Home

The Lobster Shack

Once you get to Southern Florida, you will notice that lobster rolls pop up on many menus. However, few places have managed to stay true to the simplicity and quality of the dish, which is also very famous in Maine. The Lobster Shack is a tiny, blue restaurant that seats about 15 people, at the most. You simply order and pay at the little window, then the most delicious seafood delicacy is brought out in a basket. Fresh lobster is lightly blended with mayonnaise, then stuffed into soft, buttery bread. Chips come on the side, leaving the roll front and center.

Lobster Roll

Danger Charters’ real sail boat

When you look out in any harbor, it’s not common to see an old-style wooden boat powered by sails. Danger Charters not only will take you for a ride on their pirate-like ships, but they’ll bring you on adventures like snorkeling and kayaking through the Key’s popular mangroves. Snacks, beer and wine are served onboard.

Danger Charters Sail Boat

Night kayaking

In a nook off the coast of Key West is a one of a kind excursion, LED- lit, night kayaking. The bottom of the kayaks are clear and strips of battery powered lighting illuminate the sea-life below. You’ll see starfish, lobster and variety of colorful creatures. Marine biology experts lead the tour while answering any questions about the ocean. It’s a relaxing activity fit for all ages and is available through Ibis Bay Resort.

LED Night Kayaking

Sunset Key

Sunset Key is a private island and resort with cottages, restaurants, pools and pristine beaches. You can spend the week at the extravagant retreat or ride the ferry out to the beach for the day, since it is one of the few places with beach access near Key West. The ferry ride from the marina to Sunset Key is no more than five minutes. While basking in the sun, a beachside service menu and lounge chairs are at your disposal for a picturesque day in paradise.

Sunset Key

Cuban Coffee Queen

Cuban Coffee Queen was originally opened by a kite surfer who spent an extended period of time in Cuba, where he mastered the technique of making authentic Cuban brew. Café Con Leche is a traditional selection that consists of Cuban coffee and steamed milk, nothing else. This humble, tiny shack will surprise you with bread, coffee and sandwiches true to Cuban culture.

Cuban Coffee Queen

Comments (3)

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  1. John says:

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading this post especially the bit about the Hemingway pool. Can you give some more details – was it the first of its kind in the world?

  2. Karyn says:

    The pool was considered to be unusually massive at the time of construction. Workers had to drill down to a salt water table and it would take days to fill the pool. Refilling had to be done often to refresh the water. Other saltwater pools did exist, but they did not cost as much as Hemingway’s, which was around 20,000 US dollars. That’s a lot of money even these days!

  3. We luv it here in the Keys. Key West is where we go to play and Islamorada is where we relax. Thanks for the tidbits

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