Top 7 BEST Key West Shore Excursions For Cruisers
Whether you’re a cruise addict or you’re planning your very first venture out on the seas, most people can agree that cruising isn’t considered traveling unless you get off the boat. Cruising is the all-inclusive-resort of the ocean. A floating party, if you will. There can be nothing more relaxing and rejuvenating than having all your amenities, entertainment, and food a few hundred feet from each other. But, a packed itinerary of tropical and exotic destinations will be wasted if you don’t take the time to explore them! Cruise ports are known be white-washed, scrubbed down, money-draining versions of their real, local counterparts and it’s important to plan wisely ahead of time to find the best, most authentic shore excursions to max out your (sometimes very limited) time at port.
Visit Dry Tortugas National Park
A visit to the Dry Tortugas National Park is one that no one knows they’re missing until they go. This architectural feat of 16 million bricks built in the 1800’s sits surrounded by water in the middle of nowhere. The fort, which was originally built to control piracy, quickly became used as a Civil War deserters’ prison, medical quarantine, and coaling station.
Fort Jefferson can be reached by a daily ferry from Key West, as well as by chartered seaplane and private yacht. As a national park, primitive camping is permitted on the beach. Visitors by ferry typically spend 4 hours on the island, which is enough time for a guided tour of the fort, lunch on the boat and a swim (snorkel equipment provided) on the reef. Within the fort are a museum and bookstore. This excursion may require you to overnight in Key West. Check the ferry’s itinerary against your time on the island.
Trolley or Train Around the Island
Trolly or train, this sightseeing tour is guaranteed to make the most of a short visit. Both the Conch Train and The Old Town Trolley both are equipped with knowledgable local driver-guides that spin you around the Old Town of our tiny 2 by 4 mile island pointing out history, lore, architecture and more…
If its a quirky and quaint experience you’re looking for where EVERYONE has a good view, take the Conch Train. If you’d like to use your all day ticket as transportation around the island, grab a “Hop on, hop off” pass on the Trolley. If you need more info to make up your mind, check out this great comparison article. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Fill up with a Cultural Walking Food Tour
History buff? Food connoisseur? Seafood Lover? Cocktail drinker? Whatever your persuasion, they’ve got a tour for that. With 3 fabulous 2.5-3 hour tours departing daily in both the late morning and early afternoon, Key West Food Tours amazes guests with their depth of knowledge of Key West’s food scene and rich history. Step away from the cruise crowds into a small group of 12 and under to be escorted around 6 handpicked mom and pop venues to nibble your way through fabulous regional specialty dishes using locally sourced ingredients.
One of their tours focuses completely on seafood celebrating Key West’s extensive array of fruits of the sea, while cocktail lovers and vacation drinkers can join the upscale crawl that ventures into smaller, lesser known hidden gems that are both off the main drag of Duval Street and more often frequented by the locals. Expect interesting and surprising history peppered through each tour. All walking tours are accessible for all ages and are wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Kayak the Mangroves
Our unique ecosystem is home to the most stunning collection of flora and fauna that can be witnessed together on a kayak or paddle board Eco Tour. Stretch those legs on this peaceful yet invigorating, authentic Key West shore excursion. Your guide will lead your group through mangrove canals, spotting birds, sea life, and native plants along the way. Discover a turtle, heron, conch, or all three every tour!
Think you can do all of Key West in your 6 hour cruise stop? Wrong. This tiny Caribbean island has interesting history of pirates, treasure, the Navy, and both scandal and victory dating back to the 1600’s. The Hemingway House satiates long life literary fans with personal stories and artifacts. Oh, and there’s also 6-toed cats. Everywhere. Or, stroll through the President’s original vacation home and understand why Truman spent 175 days of his presidency there! Here’s a top 10 list of the best museums in town if you’re having a hard time deciding!
Bike Around Key West
Stretch those legs on Key West’s favorite mode of transportation: bikes! Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour is a more athletic version of the conch train or trolley taking you quickly around the island by expert guides to teach you fun facts about paradise. This shore excursion will allow you to see far more by pedals than feet. If you do it early enough that day, it may help you figure out where you’d like to spend the rest of your precious time.
Get Out on the Water!
You may have JUST gotten off a boat surrounded by water, but it’s just not the same as being on a sunset sail with the sea spray misting your face and a cocktail in hand. Key West is known for its breathtaking sunsets with their unique “green flash.” Don’t know what that is…google it. Sunset sails run from basic to extravagant and every level in between. Whatever your style, if you’ve got the time to spare, this is a must.
Getting IN the water? Now we’re talking! Make a splash with a snorkel or dive trip! For water and sea life lovers, missing the longest barrier reef in the world seems like a sin. Choose a shore excursion that takes you to straight the coral, fish, conch and more! Sometimes swimmers see dolphin, turtles, rays, and/or sharks as well. Don’t worry, our most common shark, the docile nurse shark, doesn’t have teeth and is less interested in you than you may like. Point being, if you think there’s a lot to see of Key West above water, imagine how much more there is below!
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