Arriving in Key West felt to me like arriving in another country. There were these vibes radiating from the place that instantly put me in a good mood. Not to mention the reggae music playing in the streets, the wild chickens and iguanas, and the abundant coconuts!
We had camped overnight in Miami and spent most of the day exploring, and I must admit I felt like I was living in real-life GTA: Vice City. Despite the nostalgia we were pretty underwhelmed so decided to begin the three hour journey to Key West that afternoon instead of the following day. Three hours easily became four and a bit hours because there were so many interesting places and photo ops along the way.
Oh and there was also the time we got pulled over and fined for speeding…..whoops.
We ended up stopping briefly in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Big Pine Key (to look for Key Deer!) before finally reaching Key West at about 5pm.
We were lucky enough to have been offered free accommodation from a family friend, and had no idea what to expect. He told us to call him when we got there and he’d let us know how to get in. Little did we know we actually had to get the keys off a property management place that of course had closed for the day, so we ended up spending our first night in Key West camping out in our rental car yet again! Classic.
Anyway, we went to collect the keys bright and early and were feeling a bit puzzled by the way the staff member greeted us, as though she were unsure if she should really be handing the keys over. Well we soon realised why – the condo was insanely luxurious and there are basically no words to describe how gorgeous it was. No wonder she seemed hesitant handing over the keys to some scruffy looking twenty year olds. It was on Atlantic Boulevard and had a magnificent view and a huge swimming pool and spa. The living room had mirrors for walls on one whole side and there was a huge wrap around balcony with big bamboo sun chairs. The master bedroom was completely open and had its own big bathroom. It was giant for just the two of us, and even though we are hardly luxury enthusiasts, to be able to stay here for as long as we wanted at no cost was incredible and we’re still so grateful. It was a big contrast to having spent the last few weeks living out of a car!
We started exploring straight away. The main street of Key West, Duval Street, is a busy stretch of quirky bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. Key Lime pies, Cuban cigars and Pina Coladas seemed to be the main selling points and I definitely wasn’t complaining. We spent our days snorkelling, swimming, sun baking, sipping on fresh coconuts, and eating good food, and our evenings bar hopping, people watching and giggling uncontrollably.
Overall, despite being a popular vacation destination for a lot of Americans, it wasn’t too busy and still had that Caribbean/Cuban relaxed vibe without being commercialised. I would definitely recommend skipping Miami and heading here if you’re looking for somewhere to relax in Florida. I cannot wait to go back!