Whispers of an exiled neighbor 90 miles to the south echo here, from thirst-quenching mojitos to roadside stands offering hand-rolled cigars. An order of chips and salsa gets a confused stare, while a rum cocktail gets you a shopping list of options. Side streets are lined with quaint two-story houses nestled in lush, palm-dotted green yards, featuring wrap-around balconies, storm shutters and faded paint. And all around beckons ocean water so refreshingly blue it looks sweet.

This is Key West,
where the road ends,
where the mile marker reads zero!

Whether relaxing on the white coral-sand beach at Fort Zachary Taylor or enjoying sunset cocktails on the wharf at Mallory Square, Key West caters to relaxation. Inexpensive bicycle and scooter rentals provide a quick and easy way to explore the small city, although the heart of Key West, Duval Street, can easily be explored in its entirety in one afternoon on foot.

Quaint Bed & Breakfasts dot side streets, offering cozy rooms and hot breakfasts in the morning. Fishing charters, snorkeling, jet skiing, and parasailing are all offered as a way to enjoy the perennial warm water and warm weather of the Florida Keys.

Adventure starts at
Mile Marker Zero!

Gliding serenely along 600 feet above vibrant blue Gulf of Mexico water, a warm breeze in my face, it's difficult not to appreciate everything Key West has to offer. I lean back like a child on a swing, my parachute behind me billowing and colorful, and I can't help but recall some Dave Matthews lyrics:

Would you not like to be/
Sitting on top of the world/
With your legs hanging free?

I would, and as a matter of fact, I am.

That is, until it suddenly dawns on me that I'm dropping. Fast. The reef below me draws nearer and I find myself scanning the water for sharks or anything else that might find human marinated in a week of vacation food and cocktails appetizing. Before I know it, I'm up to my waist in the water, until the cowboys in the Sebago Watersports powerboat towing me let out a whoop and crank the throttle, sending me skyward.

At least if I fall I've got a parachute!

In the Florida Keys, where natural resources include sunshine, warm water, and vacations, Sebago Watersports leads the way for recreation.

Sebago is your Key West
Adventure Center!

As the largest water sports company in the Florida Keys, Sebago Watersports offers all the activities a restless vacationer could need. Founded in 1989 by Paul McGrail and Sean Rowley, the Sebago fleet began with a single 50-foot transatlantic racing sailboat. Since then, Sebago's success has resulted in a fleet of three catamarans, the 53-foot Sebago, the 60-foot Cubed, and the massively elegant 67-foot Marquesa, the only catamaran boasting a full liquor bar.

In addition to the catamarans, Sebago owns two powerboats, several Wave Runners, as well as use of the schooner Appledore during the winter months.

Parasailing is only one of the services Sebago offers. With such an extensive fleet, Sebago offers a variety of cruises and activities on the water. The popular "Sailing and Snorkeling Adventure" allows guests a peak into the vibrant undersea world around the coral reefs, as well as a chance to skim along the beautiful Gulf waters aboard one of the three graceful catamarans.

The romantic "Sunset Cruise" is a testament to Key West's appreciation for sunsets. For two hours passengers are ferried around the Gulf waters off Mallory Square, sipping complimentary beer, wine, or champagne and watching the sun melt into the Gulf of Mexico and ignite the evening sky. Men- and women-only gay sunset cruises are even offered.

Sebago is the largest watersports fleet
in the Florida Keys

Get Your Beach Gear Here
Those looking for a full day on the water can try Sebago's "Island 'Ting," a six-hour adventure cruise that includes snorkeling around coral reefs and a guided kayak tour through the magical mangroves that dot the National Marine Sanctuary. This unique eco-system is home to seabirds, including osprey, egrets and ibis, as well as exotic sea creatures, such as turtles, stingrays and even the occasional shark.

In addition to complimentary breakfast and lunch, guests can unwind at the end of the day with homemade sangria on the sail home. And if lolling on white coral sand beaches has made you restless, Sebago offers a full day "Power Adventure" to get your heart pounding. While more expensive than other Sebago packages, Power Adventure trips leave early in the morning and feature snorkeling and a buffet lunch early in the day, then an afternoon of exhilarating Wave Runner riding, parasailing, and kayaking.

Among the more popular packages is the "Snorkeling & Sunset" cruise, which combines the popular snorkeling cruise with an evening sunset cruise. Several days of gluttonous landlubbing has left me restless for some new scenery, and with little effort I'm booked aboard the catamaran Sebago for such a voyage.

Killing time at the waterfront Schooner Wharf Bar (where the only thing saltier than the locals is the Gulf waters in front of you) over conch fritters and refreshing Kalik beers, I watch weathered fishing boats, pristine sailboats, and sleek powerboats arriving and departing, as well as the larger of Sebago's catamarans, the massive and graceful Marquesa. As it drifts by, sunbathers draped across its decks like sea lions in the sun, I am reminded of my own boarding time, so I pay the modest tab, and set off to the dock.

Captain Sean, above,
and the blonde crew
of Sebago, below.

A quick introduction to the crew of the Sebago and I'm soon filing aboard the catamaran with a few dozen other passengers. Although the capacity of the Sebago is officially listed as 49, there seems to be enough room for at least 75. A quick safety briefing by Sean, our captain for the day, and we're heading out to sea. As the warm wind pushes us towards our snorkeling spot, I watch Sean direct his youthful and abundantly blonde crew about their chores. While they set about their duties with the sails and rigging, I hang my feet over the side, feeling the warm water splash against them, marveling at the color of the water.

In addition to conch fritters and the former home of Ernest Hemingway, Key West is home to continental U.S.'s only living coral reef, located just six miles south of Key West in the National Marine Sanctuary.

Water temperatures consistently hovering around 70 degrees and excellent visibility create the ideal snorkeling conditions to enjoy over fifty species of corals and over one hundred and fifty species of fish. As an avid diver accustomed to exploring the ocean from the bottom up, I'm skeptical about what I'll see, but as soon as I plunge into the warm water, the location wins me over.

As I bob along the surface, massive parrotfish probe among the coral, searching for snacks, while schools of grunts and sergeant majors dart in and out of the reef. My curiosity getting the best of me, I occasionally dive to the ocean floor 15 feet below to peek under outcroppings, being careful not to touch the reef, with hopes of spying an eel or grouper lurking in the shadows. But no such luck. With only a chest-full of air, there's only so much exploring I can do.

Hey, it's Margaritaville!

Before long a chill begins to creep into my body, and the thought of complimentary beverages creeps into my mind, and I head back to the Sebago to dry off and fill up. Before long, the Sebago is skimming back to the docks, and I have the warm evening breeze in my face and a cold beer in my hand. Conversations begin to change from what was seen while snorkeling to the spectacle beginning to appear in the western sky. As the sun drifts low toward the horizon, the blue sky deepens to a warm violet. A few scattered clouds on the horizon glow orange on their undersides, reflecting the sun's warmth. The few clouds on the far horizon, not wanting to be left out of the display, begin to glow pink. Cameras are passed around as the light fades, friends and family and lovers pose and smile, while the crew makes its rounds, cheerfully sharing the moment and ensuring a relaxing sunset in paradise.

Not a bad job, I think to myself!

A few days later, sitting at the waterfront by Mallory Square at sunset, my umpteenth margarita settling into my blood system, I spot a Sebago catamaran coming in to dock, every passenger aboard turned to face the exploding sky in the west. I overhear a couple next to me commenting how fun that must be. I smile to myself, and turning away from the crimson-streaked sky toward them, "You know, I happen to know just the company!"

Feature and photos by Misha Troyan, Jetsetters Magazine San Diego Correspondent.

Read The Jetsetters Magazine feature: "Powerboating Off The Florida Keys" and "Reeling For Dollars, Big Bucks, Big Fish."

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3DRose:: T-Shirts - Light House - Key West Lighthouse (Other Printed Shirts)

T-Shirts - Light House - Key West Lighthouse (Other Printed Shirts)

Key West Lighthouse T-Shirt is commercial quality high resolution heat transfers garment. Our image transfer produces professional matt finish with Premium Quality and Superior image resolution. Colors do not bleed and the image is sharp and crisp. The transfer on the shirt has a soft hand. It will soften up greatly after the first wash and has very little color loss. Washing Instructions 1. Turn Garment inside-out and machine wash in cold water. 2. Do not use Bleach or use Fabric Softener. 3. Detergents with bleach additives are not recommended. 4. Tumble Dry on Warm. 5. Do not Iron. Do not Dry clean. In addition, this product is available in several sizes.

June Keith's Key West & the Florida Keys: Food Hotels Beaches Diving Fishing History Writers Festivals Attractions Museums Wildlife

June Keith's Key West & the Florida Keys: Food Hotels Beaches Diving Fishing History Writers Festivals Attractions Museums Wildlife

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