Frequently Asked Questions ...
Visiting the Keys:
Where is Key
Key West is the last island in a chain of islands extending southwest of Miami FL that one can drive to. Key West is 159 miles SW of Miami and 90 miles north of Havana. To get to Key West, upon arriving at Miami, jump on US1 south, and drive!!! Optionally, you could fly into Key West International Airport (EYW). It is serviced by Comair: The Delta Connection, USAir Express, and American Eagle. Key West is further south than Nassau, Bahamas. ( Key West, FL 24.5 N 82.8 W).
How big is
The island is quoted by several sources as being either a 1 mi X 3 mi island, or 2x4, or 3x5. The differences vary depending on if some adjacent islands are included, such as Stock Island, Fleming Key, and Dredgers Key.
What is the
population of Key West?
Just as the size of the island changes, so does the population. The 1990 Census listed the population of the City of Key West as 24,832. The population for the entire Keys (not all of Monroe county) is listed as 78,024. (Source: Key West Citizen -- Florida Keys Almanac, August 1994 derived from the 1990 Census).
What is the Conch Republic?
In 1982, the US Border Patrol placed a road block on US1 at Key Largo for the purpose of catching drug traffic, illegal aliens, etc. Traffic jams to and from the Keys built up in large proportions. Tourism basically died off. Several folks got together and formed the nation of "The Conch Republic", and seceded from the Union. The Conch Republic instantly surrendered to the United States and requested $1 Million in foreign Aid. The publicity stunt was successful in ending the road blocks. But to not let a good thing end. The Conch Republic Flag still flies in the skies above the Keys. Conch Republic passports are also issued.
What is Cayo Hueso?
Cayo Hueso is Spanish for "Island of Bones". When Ponce de Leon first arrived at Key West, the island was littered with bones from the Indians who had lived here. The term "Key" is most likely an Anglicization of Cayo. It isn't clear if "West" is derived from Hueso (pronounced way-so) or if the term "West" has to do with the geographical location of Key West.
Visiting the Keys
Before I start answering these questions, there is a small amount of commentary that must be stated. Key West, and the Keys are a most wonderful place. They are so wonderful because of the natural habitat of the area.
Our Coral Reef
is one of the best on the planet to explore,
but it is very fragile. Just touching the
reef can cause measurable damage to the
local ecological system. Captains and boat
owners who run their boats around on the
reef pay enormous fines for the damages.
Respect the reef, the coral and other life
in our waters is even more damaging. Large
fines are assessed to those caught littering
the ocean. The fish you eat is caught in
our local waters. Remember that before
you let a friend toss a piece of trash
into the water.
As you drive
through the Keys, remember that many endangered
and protected species live here. The most
noticeable is the Key Deer. When you approach
Big Pine, speed limits drop and they are
STRICTLY ENFORCED. As a side note, even
at the speed limits, driving through Big
Pine requires care. I was driving the required
25 MPH or less, when I rounded one curve.
Two Key Deer were standing in the median.
I slowed down, but as I passed the deer,
one bolted. Luckily for me, the doe bolted
the other way. Even though I was obeying
the law, it could have all been over
in the bat of an eye!
I do while I am in the Keys?
Top 10 List:
- Rest and Relax.
- Sunset at Mallory Square
(This is an ABSOLUTE MUST!! You miss
this, you've missed Key West, and best
of all.... It's Free!!!!!)
at the Reef (Look, don't touch!!!!)
Deep Sea Fishing or take another cruise/party
boat. (Please support "Catch
and Release". If your not going to
eat it, let it go!!) V
- isit famous
spots, such as Margaritaville Cafe,
Kelly's (Kelly McGillis' place),
Sloppy Joes, Hemmingway House,
Audubon house, etc.
- Take either the Conch
Tour Train or Old Town Trolley
- Jet Ski/Wave Runner/ParaSail/WindSurf
or other similar activities.
- Bake at the Beach During
the day/Party at night on Duval Street.
- Visit the various museums
- Rent a bike and ride
around the island.
Many people chose
to, park their car, and rent a Scooter
or bicycle since parking can be tough
to find downtown and at the beaches.
Fantasy Fest is an annual festival held in the streets and establishments of Key West. The Festival is best described as Key West's Mardi Gras. There are parades, wild costumes (to no costumes), music, dancing in the streets and so on. Fantasy Fest is held the last week of October, with the main events happening on Friday and Saturday of Halloween Week. Each year the Fest has a theme. The 1994 Fantasy Fest was held Oct 24 - Oct 30 and the theme was "Mystical Myths and Twisted Tales". The 1995 theme is "Tinseltown Dreams ... Lights, Camera, Fantasy" which should produce quite an show.
The 1994 Fantasy Fest lived
up to everyone's expectations. Most all the
restrictions placed on the 1993 Fest was
lifted for this years festival. The estimate
for the Twilight Fantasy Parade was over
55,000 people lining Duval and Whitehead.