Who would have thought that us people on the West Coast of Florida can avoid the dreaded US1 road and 7+ hour’s drive to get to sunny Key West! Well … here I am going to tell you how! My dear friend from Switzerland came to visit me in Tampa in November. I spent days researching what could we do besides Busch Gardens or Universal Studios. In my extensive search to find something that will impress my lovely friend, as she comes from such a beautiful country, I came across the Key West Express. Pardon my ignorance but I had no idea that there was a Ferry in Florida! My friend got here and I still was not decided if this ferry thing was going to be a good idea. In my mind, I imagined a fishing-boat type, fish-like smelly and uncomfortable – oh and with a lots of people standing up and ready to be seasick. That was what I had in my mind, obviously a pretty scary idea to say the least. But after a frank conversation with my friend, and making sure that she has absolutely no expectations about this trip, I bit the bullet and bought the tickets. The reservations were done over the phone 3 days before the trip, however, (hint-hint here) - I learned that if I would have purchased the tickets in advance I could have saved about $27 per ticket… that would have bought us several rounds of adult beverages at the Tiki bars!
We sailed Key West bound promptly at 8:30am on a weekday. What a great surprise! This ferry was very nice and comfortable! It has a little snack place as well as alcohol. Nice seating and inside and outside places to hang out. I breathed in relief when my friend was very pleased and enjoying herself! The sail to Key West was very pleasant. This was a day trip so I was concerned that if the seas get rough that the boat would not return from Key West. The crew said that if they know they cannot return due to weather they will not sail out. This is a pretty good plan for those who can only spare one day in Key West. The day was beautiful; we walked around town, hopped on the trolley (Note - there is one trolley that does not stop in any of the points of interest and another one that does). Make sure you take the one that suits your needs. We went around the must-see areas like Mallory Square, Southernmost Buoy and Hemingway House among other places. We ate at Sloppy Joes and my friend shopped for nice “bling-in-the-booty” jeans in a very nice not-your-regular clothing shop. Key West definitely has some style!
We sailed back at 5PM and were in Ft Myers 3 ½ hours after. I want to do this again! But next time, I will make sure I do a long weekend trip. It is an easy drive from where I live in Tampa via 75 South to Ft Myers. Come the night before and stay at a little motel near the dock. Treat yourself to the sports bar food with some of the neighbors around Ft Myers and enjoy the evening. This is one of those experiences that as a local you should not miss – come ferry away to Key West!
Check out SeaKeyWest.com.