It’s been said that “location, location, location” are the three things that matter most as a destination. But this southernmost city could get by on personality alone. The aboriginal people called this island Cayo Hueso, or “key of bones” because of the myriad burial sites. Today it is one of the liveliest places in our country.
As a young man I had the opportunity to explore its cultural underbelly…halcyon days when you could drink at the bar with Captain Tony and Jimmy Buffet played for beers just a few feet away. Key West for me also was a lynchpin for its rich history of literary heroes.
Old Town Key West is a limited part of the island’s modern geography, but you would be hard pressed to exhaust the dining options and I double-dog-dare-ya to wear out the pub crawl down here which would in some form punctuate at the ceremonious sunset elbow bending at Mallory Square. There is lots of entertainment and cultural whirlwinds with every turn of the head. One does best with a “live and let live” attitude. Have some rum, try a Cuban cigar and kick back. It is a wonderful place for art shopping.
It surprises new visitors to the Keys how little beach exists. This is because of the world’s third largest living barrier reef which is also a national marine sanctuary extending up to near Miami. The Keys themselves are part of this ancient limestone coral made structure, formed when the seas were much deeper. It protects the shore from the pounding surf and the generation of sandy strands. But it is Disney Land for fishermen and for divers who flock like locusts when lobster season opens.
Although there are greater places for billfish and other target species, what sets this destination apart for the angler is the overlap of multiple fisheries here. There is offshore fishing, gorgeous reef varieties, inshore and bay fishing among the thousands of small mangrove islands and some of the genetically largest bonefish on the planet as well as tarpon and permit on the flats.