Before pushing on from Islamorada, I'd have to explore Looe Key, where the HMS Looe sank in 1744. It's one of the Keys' most spectacular reefs-home to star, brain, and elkhorn coral and plenty of less stationary marine life.
Between Islamorada and Marathon is Duck Key and Hawk's Cay Resort. This 60-acre luxury getaway offers great fishing, dolphin encounters, water sports, a saltwater lagoon, swimming pools, deluxe accommodations recently spiffed-up during a $45 million renovation, fine dining, and spa services.
Marathon Key is a ten-mile stretch that covers Vaca, Fat Deer, and Grassy Keys. Again, although there's plenty to do here- wreck diving, snorkeling, scuba, etc.-I am tempted by the names. (And by the way, if I was Fat Deer, my feelings would be hurt. They couldn't go with "Plump Deer"? At least the key they called "Cow" was mocked in Spanish.)
All right, maybe my meandering route down the Keys is starting to get to me. It's clearly about time I experienced the civilizing aspects of Key West, and got a jolt of normalcy
The problem is, what makes Key West so beloved is that it's about as far from normal as you can get-which is why to many people, it feels just like home.
I would put in at the Westin Key West Resort and Marina for its great location or the down-to-earth Galleon if I was staying awhile. I'd stroll famous Duval Street, which is lined with bars and restaurants, visit Mallory Square where an eccentric crowd gathers each evening to celebrate the sunset, hear some live music at the Hog's Breath, dine at Bagatelle, haunt Hemingway's old favorite Sloppy Joe's... When I'd had my fill of food and drink, there are quiet things to enjoy here, too. Exploring Mel Fisher's Maritime Museum, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, or just wandering the quieter residential streets and admiring the Conch architecture would keep me happy. As long as I didn't see a For Sale sign in front of something adorable, I think there's a pretty good chance I wouldn't wind up wandering Mallory Square with a parrot on my shoulder. Don't you? www.fla-keys.com
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