From drag shows and cabaret to karaoke, the Florida Keys’ Key West provides an incredible after-dark party scene for LGBT travellers, but plenty of other activities are available for those keen to explore the sub-tropical island city at a more relaxed pace. Here are five ways to explore Key West and its surrounding areas by land and water.
SAIL: With Blu Q Gay Sailing Adventures, choose from a range of exhilarating nautical adventures with Captain Steve and his crew. The ‘Island Trip’ takes couples or friends to remote sandbars and pristine natural sandy beaches beyond Key West from $125 per person (around £96), while the iconic Key West sunset can be enjoyed from the water aboard an intimate two-hour catamaran sunset sail priced from $49 per person (around £37.50). For LGBT travellers keen to explore more of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, from November – April, an all-male, 21+ ‘Sail, Snorkel and Paddle’ catamaran trip journeys to some remote reefs and sponge gardens that are teaming with tropical fish and larger marine life. The half-day trip is priced at $109 per person (around £83.50).
FLY: Journey to one of America’s most remote locations, Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles from Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, this group of seven coral reef islands is the perfect escape for people looking for a daytime adventure. Fly to the park with Key West Seaplane Adventures and enjoy spectacular aerial views of tropical turquoise waters filled with marine life such as dolphins and sea turtles en-route. After landing, spend a half or full day enjoying the pure white sands of Garden Key where eco-focused pursuits include snorkelling and birdwatching. The seaplane trip is priced from $356 per adult (around £273) for a half-day excursion and entry to the national park costs $15 (around £11.50).
PADDLE: Venture to the Lower Keys, about a 45-minute drive from Key West, and join local legend Captain Bill Keogh, of Big Pine Kayak Adventures, to explore by paddle power on an eco-kayaking tour. Navigate the shallow waters surrounding the mangrove islands of the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge and National Key Deer Refuge in sit-on-top kayaks to explore the backcountry’s sponge and grass flats and mangrove forests during this unique nature experience. A three-hour group kayaking tour is priced from $50 per person (around £38).
TASTE: For many, brunch is an institution the world over, and at Hot Tin Roof Restaurant in Key West, it comes with a side serving of subtropical ocean views. Plan to visit for Sunday brunch between 11.30am and 2.30pm to enjoy a culinary extravaganza at a set price of $49 (around £37.50) that includes a full Bloody Mary bar and bottomless mimosas. It is the Sunday brunch of dreams. Book in advance to avoid missing out.
BEACH: While the Florida Keys are most famous as a destination to enjoy active adventures in and on the water, for LGBT couples looking for one of the best strips of sand in the island chain, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is the ideal choice thanks to the crystal-clear Atlantic waters that lap its shores. The park provides visitors with everything they’ll need to make the most of their time, from picnic benches and grills to nature trails and a large historic fort to explore. Swim or snorkel in the sea, or take shade under the site’s majestic Australian pines. Entry starts at $6.50 (around £5) per vehicle or $2.50 (around £1.90) on foot.