Exclusive | Key West: What to See & Do
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
Many visitors enjoy their entire Key West holiday happily ensconced in, and never straying very far from, their guesthouse. It's hard to remember sometimes that surrounding Key West on one side is the Gulf of Mexico and on the other the Atlantic Ocean. Both offer aquatic wildlife and sites almost beyond the imagination. Snorkel and sunset cruises remain the most popular options for exploring these natural treasures.
Floridays (601 Front St.; 305/744-8335 or 888/733-5455) is a pristine, gay-friendly 60-foot yacht taking anywhere from four to 30 passengers. It is the nicest of the yachts available.
Those who are looking for a gay environment (including nude sunbathing) should book the Blu Q (201 William St., Dock E; 305/923-SAIL) offering daily five-hour, all-gay (swimsuit-optional) sails and snorkel cruises ($75), sunset cruises ($35) for gay men and women, and private custom cruises.
To experience the sea in the company of women, contact Captain Karen and Captain Debra at Venus Charters (305/292-9403 or cell 305/304-1181). Captain Paula at No Worries (305/393-2402 or 305/293-9640) provides custom charters for small groups. Sebago Catamaran (305/294-5687) offers women's champagne sunset sails every Thursday.
For scuba diving, contact Southpoint Divers (305/292-9778 or 800/891-DIVE) or Subtropic Dive Center (305/296-9914 or 800/853-DIVE). Potomac Paddle Sports (877/529-2542 or 301/831-8270) offers kayak instruction and other adventure travel options to gay and lesbian visitors.
The Conch Tour Train (800/868-7482) departs from Duval and Front Streets every half hour. It is a bit touristy, but does provide a broad overview of the town's attractions.
The Old Town Trolley (800/868-7482) is similar, but a better choice on rainy days. It departs from the Holiday Inn.
The rainbow-decorated Gay and Lesbian Trolley Tour (305/294-4603) is delightfully campy, truly informative and comes with its own soundtrack. Sure, you'll find out about Hemingway, but gay residents past and present also get their due. It delivers the gay island dish every Saturday, departing at 11 a.m. near Atlantic Shores.
Bikes are the vehicle of choice for many islanders. Mopeds are the lazy person's option (but who are we to judge?). Both can be rented at numerous locations (and sometimes provided by guesthouses). The Moped Hospital (601 Truman Ave; 866/296-1625) is a gay-owned bike/moped rental and repair company.
The "beach" at Fort Zachary Taylor (305/292-6713) is increasingly gay to the right end (locals call it Fort Liz Taylor). Take Southard Street to the Truman Annex. There is a $1.50 fee to get into the park for bicycles and foot traffic; $3.50 for a single person in a car ($6 for two and it goes up in small increments from there). This is a nice peaceful location; however, the sand is almost rocklike and therefore not very comfortable. Rental chairs are available. Tours of the fort are offered daily at noon and 2 p.m.
Bahia Honda, a protected state park and beach, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Keys. Unfortunately, it's 35 miles north of Key West and best reachable by car. There are two sides; follow the signs for Viking Beach and relax on its pristine white sand.
Also popular with gay men is Boca Chica Key. From Key West, take US 1 to the mainland to Boca Chica Key. Turn right at Boca Chica Road. Go to the end and park your car. Continue walking until the path turns inland. Follow the shore path and you will find a wonderful deserted playland of naked gay men. Remember to bring bug spray! You will need it.
Daily ($25) and weekly passes are available to use the gym at Island House (1129 Fleming St.; 305/294-6284); it offers new equipment, a cruisy atmosphere and a clothing optional workout environment.
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