Key West may be infamous for its omnipresent and lively nightlife. However, its sun-drenched days and cool island breezes beckon you to get out and explore countless outdoor activities — all sure to excite your senses and rejuvenate your spirit after spending a long winter indoors in some chilly locale.

Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park

Taking a seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park and majestic Fort Jefferson is a must-do Key West activity. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

The vast natural beauty of the Florida Keys never ceases to amaze me, even after almost two decades of living here. My spare time is generally devoted to soaking up every wonderful life experience our little slice of paradise has to offer.

So in this blog, I’m sharing five of my all-time favorite activities. Experience them, and you’ll be immersed in the quintessential aspects of Key West that attract so many visitors each year.

One: View Key West by air to observe our vivid coral reefs, white sand beaches and incredibly beautiful blue-green waters.

Key West Seaplane Adventures offers flights to remote Dry Tortugas National Park that begin and end with breathtaking views of Key West’s Old Town area, harbors and beaches. As you fly west toward the park, you can view the “flats” — a body of water extending nearly 20 miles with a depth of only three to five feet.

The shallow waters are part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Flying over them, you’ll get a stunning view of the marine and bird life that inhabits the area. Along the way, your pilot/tour guide will point out shipwrecks and the Marquesa Islands (which are actually a coral atoll). And when you reach the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson, the plane will make a seamless water landing onto its pure white sand beach.

Blu Q Key West excursion

An excursion on the Blu Q takes passengers into a pristine realm of natural beauty. (Photo courtesy of Blu Q)

Two: Take a jet-ski tour around the island of Key West.

Several watersports operators offer a two-hour guided tour covering approximately 26 miles of coastline, with stops during your ocean adventure. The trip takes you from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and then back to the Atlantic as you circumnavigate the island. The knowledgeable guides will indicate points of interest along the way and provide wonderful insight about the marine life you might encounter.

Three: Enjoy an LGBT watersports adventure.

Blu Q Gay Sailing Adventures offers a fantastic portfolio of watersports activities. The Blu Q catamaran can accommodate up to 36 passengers and is also available for private charters (boyfriend and girlfriend getaways, wedding parties, etc.).

Captain Steve and his crew offer several different clothing-optional ocean activities on their catamaran including the all-male Sail, Snorkel & Paddle trip. And don’t miss the “Island Time” experience, utilizing a smaller vessel (with a capacity of five) that takes you to remote islands, sandbars and isolated areas where you can even skinny dip if your heart desires.

The 30- to 40-minute ride across the clear shallow waters of the backcountry offers stunning scenery of mangroves and marine life. Dolphins, stingrays and turtles occasionally appear to give passengers a true aquatic welcome. (Sailing schedules vary, so please plan ahead and confirm before you arrive to avoid any possible issues.)

Key West sunset on the water

One of the highlights of any Key West visit is spending time on the water — especially at sunset. (Photo by Greg Tromba, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Four: Savor Sunday brunch at the Hot Tin Roof.

The Hot Tin Roof Restaurant is open daily at the Ocean Key Resort (1 Duval St.) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, my FAVORITE meal there is Sunday brunch. The indoor/outdoor dining venue offers delightful ocean views and unlimited small plates a la carte (no buffet lines for me, thank you!).

Be sure to arrive hungry, and make reservations a couple of months in advance — because this very popular culinary extravaganza is available only on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The set price of $49 includes a full Bloody Mary bar and bottomless mimosas!

Five: Find that picture-perfect place to watch the sunset.

Grab one of your favorite libations and enjoy one of our world-famous sunsets. There are so many fabulous spots that offer breathtaking sunset views in Key West, including the famed Mallory Square. Our sunsets will knock your socks off (or, more likely, your flip-flops!).

Click here to subscribe to the Florida Keys & Key West’s LGBT travel blog.