The Conch Republic has long been famed for its free-spirited natives and vibrant nightlife. But if you’re yearning for thrills that go beyond Duval Street, consider these awe-inspiring experiences.
Speak Softly with Sharks
Imagine sharks, circling and snapping at fish, so close to your catamaran you can hear the sound of their jaws. You don’t have to imagine anymore. “Shark Whisperers” Captain Ken Harris and Captain Dave Harris will take you an eco tour of the backcountry waters of Key West for 2½ to three hours of shark and wildlife viewing. A scent is deployed to attract these apex predators right next to the boat. You’ll also see a variety of wildlife, including turtles, stingrays, birds and dolphins. Key West Eco Tours, 245 Front Street, Key West, 33040, ph: 305-508-1951, http://www.kwextremeadventures.com/
Take a Flying Leap
You don’t know what adrenalin is until you’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from two miles high. Experience this ultimate adventure on a tandem skydive with Key West Skydiving. After a short briefing you and your instructor will take to the skies. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of Key West, the Atlantic and the Gulf while climbing to altitude — if you’re not too nervous to look out the window, that is. After jumping from the plane, you’ll scream toward earth at speeds of 130 mph or more. Once your parachute opens, you’ll float quietly to the ground for a soft landing. Skydive Key West, Sugarloaf Airport, MM17 US Highway 1, Sugarloaf Key, 33042, ph: 305-745-4386 http://www.skydivekeywest.com/
Turn on the Water Power
If you want to do it all, “The Key West Ultimate Adventure” has your throttle written all over it. You’ll depart in the morning aboard a catamaran and sail seven miles south, where you’ll snorkel North America’s only living coral reef. Next, you’ll sail to a private party barge for a very full afternoon of jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, or playing on the water trampoline. Or just relax and soak up the sun. Key West Ultimate Adventure, 700 Front Street, Key West, 33040, ph: 305-619-3617. http://www.furycat.com
Discover Wild Dolphins
There’s nothing more fascinating than watching wild dolphins in their natural habitat – to see them swim, to hunt and feed together, to court each other and teach their babies. And there’s nothing more joyous than seeing them jump naturally and for no other reason than the love of jumping. Escape to the “Dolphin Playground” on the Catamaran Echo to experience their “Wild Dolphin Sailing and Snorkeling Adventure.” The four-hour escapade includes snorkeling shallow shipwrecks and reefs (depending on conditions) in the tropical waters around Key West. Catamaran Echo, end of Margaret Street and the Historic Seaport and Harbor Walk, Key West, 33040, ph: 305-292-5044, http://www.dolphinecho.com/dolphin.htm
Wave to the Islands
You’ll bounce across the surf, screaming and laughing on a Waverunner; you’ll explore a mangrove creek, trying to spot wildlife such as jellyfish, stingrays and birds; you’ll view the Florida Keys in an utterly unique way. If this sounds like your cup-of-crazy, join Key West Water Tours for their “Ultimate Island Tour,” a 26=mile, two-hour guided tour via Waverunner around Key West and its neighboring islands. Stops include Southernmost Point, the historic Key West Harbor, and the submarine pits. Key West Water Tours, Hurricane Hole Marina, 5130 US Highway 1, Key West, 33040, ph: 305-294-6790, http://www.keywestwatertours.com/tours.html
Because there’s no better place to get wild than Key West!