KEY WEST is an island in two worlds. There is the Key West seen by the thousands of visitors each week, mostly cruise passengers, who spend the afternoon wandering among the noisy bars of Duval Street before they buy a t-shirt and return to the ship. Then there is the other side: part small-town America, part tropical island, Key West life is uninhibited but still feels quaint, with proud local residents who fiercely protect their culture from the taming tendencies of the visiting masses. Ironically, the island’s quirky personality is what initially attracted the cruise ship industry to the island, before the masses drowned Key West’s personality in the crowds.
The key to success is to work the island like a local and live the life of those who know the island best. How can a visitor find those rumored hidden gems? Here are some suggestions for finding the “real” Key West experience.