After several months of stay-at-home seclusion in my bachelor pad, my mind, body, and soul started demanding some outdoor activities to help recharge my batteries and regain my sanity. My inner COVID voice has been shouting, “Take me out on the ocean, please!” Well, thank goodness in Key West I’m surrounded by ocean with incredibly beautiful blue-green waters, vivid coral reefs, and (last but not least) sunsets that will knock your socks off.

LGBTQ on-the-water offerings introduce visitors to a fascinating world of sea, sky and adventure. (Photo courtesy of Blu Q)

Just in case you didn’t know, the Florida Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. 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.

Blu Q Gay Sailing Adventures offers a fantastic portfolio of watersports activities to enjoy while visiting our beautiful island paradise. The company was founded nearly 25 years ago by Captain Steve Talbott, who left his home in Texas aboard his sailboat Brigadoon to follow his passion.

“That passion, sailing, literally brought me to the shores of Key West,” Captain Steve stated. “The day I landed ashore, I realized this was my new home and the beginning of a dream to finally do what I love.”

The Blu Q, which plans to resume departures as of July 1, can accommodate up to 36 passengers (though it will likely operate at 50-percent capacity to allow for social distancing) and is also available for private charters. Captain Steve and his crew offer fabulous clothing-optional ocean activities on their catamaran, including the all-male Sail, Snorkel & Paddle trip, Snorkel and Sandbar excursion, and “Sandbar Sundays” escape. Please note that sunset sailings are currently only available on a private charter basis.

The incredible Captain Mo (who guides most departures) can take you to lovely remote islands, sandbars, and isolated areas where you can even skinny dip if your heart desires.

A Blu Q adventure can take passengers to remote islands and isolated areas to discover stunning views of mangroves and marine life. (Photo courtesy of Blu Q)

The 30- to 40-minute ride across the crystal clear and very 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.

The Blu Q is known for providing an ideal boating experience away from the crowds. As sailing resumes, however, schedules and trip formats may vary so please plan ahead and confirm before you arrive to avoid any possible issues. And for your safety, face masks, temperature checks and social distancing are currently required while aboard.

For female visitors and small mixed groups, Venus Charters is an excellent way to experience the warm, inviting waters of Key West. Captain Karen Luknis started the company in 1997. She initially offered snorkel trips for women only, but has since expanded her business. She now specializes in all-welcome, all-private charters that can provide an intimate experience for up to six guests and cater to the individual requests and needs of each group.

Whether you’re looking for a girlfriend getaway or simply a special occasion with your partner, Captain Karen provides a number of unique experiences at sea. Her charters can feature dolphin watching, sunset sailing, snorkeling, fishing or a combination. Please don’t forget to bring a camera to catch that special moment should one or more dolphins decide to make an appearance.

Captain Karen Luknis offers charters that can feature dolphin watching, sunset sailing, snorkeling, fishing or a combination. (Photo courtesy of Venus Charters; Foto by Freas Photography)

Also, Captain Karen is a licensed notary and can officiate weddings, whether on land or at sea. The wedding cruise is 90 minutes long for the couple and up to four guests. Beach weddings can be arranged to include larger groups of family and friends.

Whether a sunrise or sunset wedding or another option, Captain Karen can help plan the perfect ceremony (including making arrangements for a local photographer).

“This is my 23rd year,” said the popular captain. “I love what I do, and I want to keep doing it!”

Whatever open-ocean adventure you’re seeking, chances are you can find it in the waters around Key West. So when conditions are right and you’re ready to travel again, why not plan a trip to experience our island paradise for yourself?

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