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Introducing Key West

Anyone will tell you Key West is a little kooky – and darn proud of it. In the words of one local: ‘It’s like they shook the United States and all the nuts fell to the bottom.’

The town’s funky, laid-back vibe has long attracted artists, renegades and free spirits. Part of that independent streak is rooted in its physical geography: barely connected to the USA, Key West is closer to Cuba than to the rest of the States. There’s only one road in, and it’s not on the way to anywhere. In other words, it’s an easy place to do your own thing.

Because of its handy proximity to absolutely nothing, it’s been immune to corporate interference. Chickens and six-toed cats have their run of the island. Bikes are the favored means of transportation. And few people work nine to five.

Originally called ‘Cayo Hueso’ – Spanish for ‘Bone Island’ – Key West was named for all the skeletons early explorers found littering the beach. Since then, the island has enjoyed a long and colorful history that includes pirates, sunken treasures, literary legends and lots of ghosts.

These days, people flock to Key West to soak up the sun, the mellow atmosphere and more than a little booze. They listen to tales of the past. They snorkel the crystal clear water. And they find their internal clocks set to ‘island time.’

But the town’s popularity is like catnip to frisky developers, and they’ve started snapping up real estate – of which, on an island this small, there’s not much. The town still clings to its funky charm, but the whole place is in danger of becoming a giant condo complex with a faint memory of mystique. In other words, go now so that in 10 years you can shake your head and say, ‘You shoulda seen it 10 years ago.’

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