Summer has arrived in Key West, and I’m ready to head to the beach and get some quality swim time in. During the summer months in Key West, the ocean waters usually average about 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blu Q catamaran snorkeling in Key West waters

Blu Q’s  Sandbar & Snorkel excursion is four hours long and includes stops at tranquil sandbars, serene backcountry areas and other uncrowded locales. (Photo courtesy of Blu Q)

Our balmy water temps actually allow for year-round swimming (with winter temps generally still in the ’70s). However, as a “spoiled Floridian,” I usually only venture into the ocean when it’s 80 degrees or above. My blood may not really have gotten thinner since I moved here from New England, but you won’t catch me dipping my toes in the ocean up there even in August — BRRR!

Key West has several fantastic beaches to beat the summer heat, but my favorite way to “chill” is on a sailing excursion. Whether you’re out on the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll be welcomed by delightfully cooling breezes and gorgeous vistas of shimmering blue-green water.

Did you know that the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef lies just a few miles offshore of Key West? Offering unparalleled diving and snorkeling, our spectacular reefs are only a short boat ride from shore and are often located in water that’s just 10 to 15 feet deep.

The ideal way to fully experience the reef is to embark on a professionally-led snorkel trip. My “go-to” watersports favorite is Blu Q, a company that has been operating gay sailing adventures for nearly 25 years.

The top-notch crew goes above and beyond to ensure your Keys’ aquatic excursion provides maximum enjoyment and features some of the best things our “little slice of paradise” has to offer.

Blu Q sunset sail Key West

The Blu Q is also well-known for its two-hour all-male Sunset Sails, perfect for a romantic evening. (Photo courtesy of Blu Q)

The Blu Q’s catamaran — adorned with a rainbow flag, of course — can accommodate up to 36 passengers (though it typically averages an intimate group of 10 to 25) and is also available for private charters.

Captain Nick and first mates Will and Greg offer two different all-male, clothing-optional aquatic daytime adventures that vary by season.

The Sandbar & Snorkel excursion runs from May to October, with the Kayak & Snorkel experience scheduled from November to April. Both trips are four hours long and feature spectacular scenery with stops at some tranquil sandbars, serene backcountry areas and other uncrowded locales. (The remote sites are especially loved by the Blu Q passengers who prefer to abandon their Speedos for their “birthday suits.”)

Snorkel equipment is provided; however, please remember to bring a towel and — most importantly — some reef-friendly sunscreen.

If the tour includes the backcountry, you’re in for a real treat. You’ll first enjoy a 30- to 40-minute ride across crystal clear and very shallow waters, offering stunning scenery. Then, upon arrival, you’ll experience the Keys’ backcountry environment, ranging from mangrove communities to turtle grass flats to sponge flats.

Blu Q catamaran aerial Key West

Blu Q’s friendly and professional crew works hard to ensure that each aquatic excursion provides maximum enjoyment for passengers. (Photo courtesy of Blu Q)

Our mangrove island waters shelter various marine life including dolphins, stingrays and turtles. The flora, meanwhile, is home to abundant wildlife and rare birds including spoonbills, osprey and herons. The excursion is truly a unique opportunity to unwind and bond with Mother Nature.

The Blu Q is also well-known for its fabulous all-male Sunset Sails. The two-hour voyage is perfect for a romantic evening with that special someone, or a fun-filled evening with a group of friends.

On both the day and evening activities, the fare includes organic snacks, water and coolers to chill any libations you bring aboard. All sailings are B.Y.O.B., so whether you’re a Diet Coke aficionado or prefer a more “spirited” libation, feel free to bring it onboard. Also, please be aware that your first mates will be your bartenders for the evening (not you, LOL).

Once aboard, get your cell phone’s camera ready to capture one of our legendary sunsets and maybe even the elusive green flash (yes, it really is a “thing” — just ask the catamaran’s crew).

FYI, Blu Q also offers all-welcome Sunset Sails on occasion. If you don’t see one listed on the website, just call to see when they can accommodate you and your group.

Want to find out what other exciting on-the-water adventures await in Key West? Simply click here and start making summer plans!

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