The Best Florida Keys Watersports - 11 Tours You Must Experience!
Exploring the warm, whimsical waters of the Florida Keys attracts millions of visitors to the area every year. At the very end of the Keys lies the southernmost city in the continental United States, Key West. A mere 4 by 2 miles, this tiny island paradise is the pinnacle of fun in the sun, and packed with a wide variety of incredible and unforgettable things to do... including Florida Keys watersports!
While you may be heading to Key West to party it up on Duval Street, catch a stunning sunset from Mallory Square, or try a slice of heavenly key lime pie, you can’t leave without seeing what Florida Keys watersports are all about. With everything from diving into the crystal-clear waters and exploring North America’s only barrier reef, to zooming across the sea on a jet ski, the amount of fun to be had on the water in Key West is unmatched.
Keep reading and discover the Best Florida Keys Watersports, including 11 Tours You Must Experience.
Table of Contents
- The Significance of Watersports in the Florida Keys
- Sail the Key’s Seas
- Snorkel an Underwater Wonderland
- Go Diving Beneath the Surface
- Kayak Through the Mangroves
- Go Fishing for a Keeper
- Whiz Through the Waves on a Waverunner
- Parasail to see the Sights
- Take a Hydrobike Adventure
- Live it Up on a Luxurious Yacht
- Take an Exciting Banana Boat Ride
- Experience It All!
- Where to Book The Best Florida Keys Watersports
The Significance of Watersports in the Florida Keys
Scuba diving is one of the most popular activities in the Keys, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year
With a population of just under 30,000, it can be hard to believe that a place so small can have so much to offer. Millions of people flock to this tropical paradise every year, however, and find something new to experience with each return trip!
The tourism industry actually employs over half of the Key’s workforce! This not only reflects how important tourism is to the local labor pool and economy, but also the massive amount of things there are to do, see, and experience when you’re there.
With Florida’s barrier reef, shipwrecks, and diverse marine life, it’s easy to see why Key West watersports are at the top of the list when it comes to being a tourist in the Keys!
1. Sail the Key’s Seas
According to a recent Traveler Story, sunset sails yield unforgettable views like the one pictured above
See what “island time” is really about and take it slow on a scenic sailing tour. On the more relaxed end of the array of Key West watersports, sailing is the perfect way to get out on the water, while also getting some true rest and relaxation!
Another great thing about sailing in Key West is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. So, if you’re wanting to relax with a Mai Tai and catch one of the Key’s famous sunsets, or sail to a snorkeling destination and jump in, there’s a sailing tour to accommodate. Below are some of the many popular sailing excursions to choose from:
- Sunset Sails
- Day Sails
- Combination Tours
- Private Sails
And that’s not all, some cruises will even include live music, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres! With so many options, choosing the right Key West sailing tour can seem difficult, but rest assured that whichever tour you choose, you’ll be happy you decided to set sail!
2. Snorkel an Underwater Wonderland
According to a recent Traveler Story, snorkeling the beautiful waters of Key West is the perfect way to cool off
Key West, Florida, is home to some of the best snorkeling in the country! As far as Florida Keys Watersports go, this may be one of the most popular! Surrounded by 2,800 square nautical miles of barrier reef, the Keys are home to rare and beautiful coral, diverse marine life, and so much more.
If you’re looking forward to seeing the incredible sea-life for yourself, check out some of the interesting animals that makes up the reef’s diverse ecology:
- Sea Turtles
- Mahi Mahi
- Spiny Lobster
With so many fish in the sea, no two snorkeling trips are alike. You never know what you’ll see when snorkeling in the Florida Keys! Whether it’s by shore or by tour, snorkeling Key West’s beautiful waters is an experience you don’t want to miss! Below are some popular places to snorkel when in Key West:
- Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- Bahia Honda State Park
- Sand Key Lighthouse
- Eastern Dry Rocks
- Western Dry Rocks
- Cottrell Key
Wherever and however you decide to snorkel the Keys, you’ll be happy you decided to take the plunge!
3. Go Diving Beneath the Surface
Key West's shallow reefs mean better visibility and more to explore
Take your underwater experience one step further and dive into the depths of Key West’s diverse ecosystem. Whether you are a certified diver or a beginner, scuba diving is the best way to enjoy the beauty of the only barrier reef in North America! Scuba diving comes in many different forms, as well:
- Beginner Diving
- Advanced Diving
- Night Diving
- Wreck Diving
- Reef Diving
With so many options to accommodate all different interests and skill levels, it’s easy to see why diving in Key West attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Florida Keys every year. That, along with colorful corals, massive shipwrecks, and plant and animal life like you’ve never seen, is what makes the Florida Keys the Diving Capital of the World!
4. Kayak Through the Mangroves
Pictured above is a group kayaking through the grand and gorgeous mangroves with Danger Charters in Key West
When it comes to Key West watersports, there’s more to explore than just coral reefs and shipwrecks. The mangrove forests of the Florida Keys are another important part of the area’s ecosystem. Not only do they help prevent erosion and protect the shoreline, but mangrove forests also act as a nursery for coral reef fish, and are home to some incredible wildlife including:
- Key Deer
- Marsh Rabbits
If that isn’t enough to awaken the nature enthusiast in you, the mangrove forests of the Florida Keys are also home to a wide variety of bird species. From the unique Roseate Spoonbill to the regal Bald Eagle, the diversity of bird-life in the mangroves is a sight to be seen! Below are just a few of the breathtaking bird species you may encounter:
One of the best ways to explore the majestic mangroves is by kayak! With roots growing horizontally, this area is not accessible by boat, as it is too shallow and the waterways are too narrow. There really is no better way to get up-close-and-personal with nature and this unique slice of the Keys than by kayak.
5. Go Fishing for a Keeper
Pictured above is a barracuda that was caught in Key West, Florida, by Max Pixel
Ernest Hemingway wasn’t the only person who yearned to reel in the big one while fishing in Key West! Fishing the Florida Keys attracts visitors from across the globe, all year long. This is seen in the sheer amount of world-renowned fishing tournaments, including the following:
- Key West Kingfish Mayhem
- Cuda Bowl
- March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament
- Key West Fishing Tournament
- Del Brown Permit Tournament
- Havana Club Key West Marlin Tournament
When you consider Key West’s shipwrecks, coral reefs, and access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, it’s easy to see why people are so drawn to fishing in the Keys. These different ecosystems mean an incredibly vast array of fish species to target. Popular types of fish to catch in Key West include:
And that’s just to name a FEW! With so many customizable charters to choose from offering inshore, offshore, shark, reef, or wreck fishing in the Florida Keys, the oppor-tuna-ty to reel in a giant keeper is all over Key West!
If planning on fishing from the shore, surf, or on a pier, you will need a Florida fishing license. Check out license requirements and tips from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission for more info.
6. Whiz Through the Waves on a Waverunner
Tour group gliding across the glass-like water on a guided jet ski tour with Barefoot Billy’s in Key West
If you’re an adrenaline junkie or thrill-seeker looking for an exciting way to explore Key West, then hop on a jet ski for a high-speed adventure! Guided jet ski tours are a popular Key West watersport, and a great way to see the city from a completely different perspective. Popular landmarks you may come across while on a jet ski tour include:
- The Southernmost Point
- Historic Key West
- Key West Harbor
- Submarine Pens
Besides from these incredible landmarks, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some equally incredible and unique wildlife! Another great thing about taking a jet ski tour in Key West is that with multiple coupons and deals available, Florida Keys jet ski rentals can fit any budget!
7. Parasail to see the Sights
Parasailing is one of the many great activities for couples on a romantic getaway in Key West
Think Key West couldn’t possibly be any more beautiful than it already is? Think again! Soar high in the sky over this island paradise in a parasail for an absolutely astonishing view you have to see to believe. Be sure to keep an eye out for:
- Sea Turtles
- Tropical Fish
The peace and serenity you feel when floating in the sky equals the thrill and excitement of being hoisted up towards the clouds! Parasailing in Key West truly offers the best of both worlds.
8. Take a Hydrobike Adventure
A group of people catch a sunset in Key West and pedal across the water on a Hydrobike rental
Hydrobikes are a cool, new, and fun way to experience watersports in Key West! Hydrobikes are basically human-powered, buoyant bicycles, propelled by pedals turning a paddle wheel.
While they look a little complicated, they are actually very safe, easy to use, stable, and a great way to get out on the water without having to get wet. One of the best things to do on a hydrobike is catch a sunset from Mallory Square!
9. Live it Up on a Luxurious Yacht
Yacht charters, like the one pictured above with Courage Charters, are a great way to spend a luxurious day in the Florida Keys
Who knew such a tiny island at the very bottom of the United States knew how to live it up so large?! Hop on the lap of luxury and aboard a jaw-dropping yacht for an afternoon of fun and frill. Luxury yacht charters are the best way to explore the Keys in comfort and style.
Booking a yacht charter allows for customization, making it a great activity for every age and interest. Enjoy a meal on the water, explore a secluded island, search for dolphins, or dive in for an afternoon snorkel, the choice is yours!
10. Take an Exciting Banana Boat Ride
A short ride on a banana in Key West will make you feel as if you are in the tropics
Grab your favorite people, buckle up your life jackets, hop on a banana boat, and get ready for non-stop laughter and fun! Banana boats are inflatable rafts built for multiple people, that are towed behind fast-moving boats or jet skis. The banana boat is usually large, banana-shaped, and yellow, which is how it got its name.
Zoom across the water, hurdle the waves, and hold on tight! Banana boat rides are a blast, and a great way to experience the adrenaline-pumping fun of a jet ski if you’re with a larger group. This is because banana boats will usually hold around 6 people, while jet skis can only accommodate 2 or 3.
11. Experience It All!
Combination tours, like the sailing and snorkeling excursion pictured above, are a great way to experience more of what Key West has to offer
If you’re starting to worry because everything so far has sounded like something you want to experience, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day, don’t panic! Luckily, because of the high demand of watersports in Key West, there is a solution.
Many tour companies will offer day trips and excursions, combining many popular activities into one tour. This allows you to experience multiple things in one fell swoop! Popular activities that make up these Florida Keys Watersports combination tours include:
- Waverunner Rentals
- Banana Boat Rides
- Island Hopping
- Wildlife Tours
Day trips and excursions also allow you to see and experience things you typically wouldn’t be able to on your own or without a guide. With some combination tours even providing transportation from Miami to the Keys, the sky's the limit when it comes to experiencing Key West and having some fun in the sun!
Where to Book the Best Florida Keys Watersports
Celebrate the end of another marvelous day in paradise with one of Key West's famous sunsets over the water
From snorkeling the country’s only barrier reef, to paddling through the mangroves that host a wide variety of animals, including some only found in the Keys, to zooming across the sea on jet ski, it’s easy to see why people travel across the globe to experience the natural beauty and wonder of Key West, Florida and the Florida Keys.
It’s this same natural beauty and diverse ecosystem that truly makes Florida Keys Watersports top-notch. However you decide to hit the water, you’ll be happy you decided to give these 11 tours a shot.
You can book these 11 watersport tours and even MORE Florida Keys things to do at TripShock.com Key West.
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