Interesting Facts About the Florida Keys

an image of the keys

Key West ocean

So this month I made a trip over to the keys with family. I thought it would be a great time to write about the beautiful location and some facts that you may or may not know about them! If you have had the chance to visit the keys you would know that they are a beautiful and a busy place to be. We took quite a few pictures on this trip and I’ll sporadically share them with you.

The Drive to the Keys is a LONG one.

my husband in the keys

My husband a little cranky after the 5 hour drive

From where I live in Fort Myers, FL the drive to the Keys is 260 miles! This drive takes several hours and we all were a little crazy, as you can see, by the time we made it to the hotel. Traffic is heavy and if you don’t know your way around, you’ll face a toll on your way there.  Flying isn’t really necessary, and they only have a small airport so it’s not the best. The 5-hour drive was a little long and had us all feeling nuts by the time we arrived.  But we made it! Off to the busy streets of Key West, and they are always busy. We mostly kept ourselves busy singing, laughing and looking at the scenery. 

 

The keys are serious about conservation!

keys crab

A little Crab we found eating on the rocks at night

Every other commercial that played during our drive through the keys was a commercial on conservation of the oceans or a similar topic. Isn’t that great? The place isn’t just another beautiful location, it is one that intends to preserve that beauty. They also have a warning over every drain on the roads that tells people not to litter as it drains to the ocean. More great ideas to keep their water pure. There are dozens of rehabilitation centers and dive centers on the keys that provide information on conservation as well. I will be heading to a few of these next month for some interviews!

 

In the 1800’s.. Most of Key West’s income came from….

Most people that lived in Key West at this time worked on shipwrecks. This made Key West the wealthiest city in the U.S. at that time. Most of the homes were even furnished by shipwrecks. The quality of most of this furniture was very high and pricey as well. There is even a museum on the keys that houses the most items salvaged from shipwrecks compared to anywhere else! Most of the items that are kept here are salvaged solely from Key West.

Key West houses one of the Largest Coral Reefs.

reef in keys

A shot I took over the reefs

The reefs of Florida span an incredible distance of 160 miles in length. If you are able to visit the keys, you need to take some time to explore the reefs. Scuba Diving is a great way to do so. There are so many incredible things to see under the waters of the keys. A few to see are:

 

  • Molasses Reef
  • Benwood Wreck, a world war 2 shipwreck
  • City of Washington wreckage, local dive operators often hand feed barracuda and moray eels here, and now they are tame and a great photo opportunity.
  • Visit the Christ of the Abyss statue, a beautiful work of art.

And oh so many more are available to visit and see.

Hemingway home in keys

Hemingway Home

Ernest Hemingway Had a home in the Keys.

In fact, his home was the very first to have running water on the islands as well as the first to have a swimming pool. That very swimming pool cost more than the house was worth to build, and was beautifully designed. This is a museum that you can visit and view and is definitely worth doing! The home is a beautiful location, and there are a few other notable locations for Hemingway around the island. It is a lot of fun visiting the locations!

 

Lobsters aren’t really lobsters in Key West… Shh…

lobsters in keys

Key West “Lobsters”

The “lobsters” served in the keys are not actually lobster at all. They are actually saltwater crawfish also known as Spiny Lobsters. There’s really not that much of a difference between the two except they are two different species. Is there a taste difference to the tourists visiting the area? No not really, but the locals certainly know the difference. Add that on to the fact that some Lobster served may actually be Maine Lobster imported from the North Eastern U.S.

Chickens Roam Free on the Keys

chicken in keys

Chicken got in the shot!

Yes that is a chicken wandering down the sidewalk, and no you can not chase it down, catch it and eat it. That oddly is against the law in Key West. There is a large population of free range chickens that wander the island of Key West, and are generally unmolested by people. Decades ago, people stopped the laborious act of turning a live chicken into Friday Night’s dinner, and many chickens gained their freedom. Others were let loose when cock-fighting became illegal. The point is that they are there, so don’t be alarmed if one walks by you.

 

 

drinking in the keys

My Father-in-law having a cold one in the keys

There are no open container laws in Key West.

It’s odd given all the signs on Duval Street that say not to carry around open alcohol, but it’s true. There are no laws in Key West stating that you can’t have an open container. There are however laws against “Disturbing The Peace”, “Being Drunk In Public” and “Disorderly Conduct” which is something to keep in mind while bar hopping down Duval Street at Midnight. Seeing as Key West is known for being a big “bar crawl” island.