Getting Out on (and Under) the Water

The best beaches and sandbars (in our opinion) in the Lower Keys are only accessible by boat, and we highly recommend at least one day out on the water. It isn’t cheap - but trust us, it is worth it. If you are going to do a vacation splurge on one thing when you are here - this is it. On multiple separate occasions when heading home from a boat day with Captain Andy, our guests have said “that is in my top 5 days ever”


The waters are incredibly shallow all around the Lower Keys, plus sandbars can move over time with the tides, so heading out with an experienced local boat captain is necessary. 


Island Tales Charters

  • Captain Andy, his wife Cathy and their dog Lily are our dear friends. A retired Army Helicopter Pilot, Andy and Cathy lived on a yacht together in the Caribbean for a number of years, before deciding to call Key West their home

    • When you contact Captain Andy, let him know that you are friends with Beth & David and/or Caitlin & Nick

    • If Andy is not available, he will be able to make recommendations for you with other boat charter captains that he knows and trusts

    • Wedick Blazick family vacation video - half the video is from a day trip with Andy

      • 0:50 to 1:30 - Mud Key

      • 1:30 to 2:15 - Marvin Key - including Andy’s famous Tacos

      • 2:15 to 2:50 - rope swing on the way home from Marvin Key 

    • Andy will offer recommendations based on the number of people on charter and what you want to do (i.e. fishing vs sightseeing vs sandbar lounging) and of course the weather, but please be ready to offer a basic plan or "must see" list. You will need to meet him at Sigsbee Marina downtown, as his boat is too tall to make it under the bridges to our key. Cash payment is preferred, but he does now have credit card capabilities.  Rates as of Feb 2023 - 6 people, 6 hours, $600 + gratuity (rates subjects to change). 

    • Make sure to pack the sunscreen or better yet bring a SPF shirt, especially for the kids!
  • Marvin Key

    • This is our personal favorite spot to head to - but you can go to multiple different sandbars. Mud Key is good for snorkeling and more accessible at low tide with beach availability, and Snipe Key is a popular spot with an Instagram famous swing for great pictures

    • Other places like the Content Keys or Picnic Island (which as you can see here can occasionally host pretty epic sandbar parties) are easier to reach from charters off Summerland or Sugarloaf Keys. 


Fishing in the Lower Keys

Whether looking for a sport catch or your dinner, any fishing enthusiast knows that the Lower Keys has some of the best fishing in the world. Lots of local restaurants offer to cook your catch for the absolute freshest dinner you’ll ever eat. Bear in mind that if you plan to do ANY fishing, you will need to obtain a Florida fishing license, which can be obtained here. If you are only planning recreational fishing for a day or two, you can obtain a three day license for $17. 

Scuba Diving in the Lower Keys

The Florida Reef is the third largest in the world, and there is some great diving to be had in our backyard. There's also the Vandenberg, a 522ft wrecked missile tracking ship that is now one of the largest artificial reefs in the world for those feeling adventurous (recommended for Advanced Open Water certified). You may want to take a look at the dive conditions, as going out of the Big Pine area may yield better conditions than going out of Key West on a particular day, and the drive is about the same from the house. Check out a video Beth made out on Looe Key here. Most dive outfits also accommodate snorkelers on the same trip. Per our neighbor Lucia (a professional dive instructor at the College of the Florida Keys) there is no bad diving company in the lower keys, but here are the ones we've used:

  • Captain Hook (just make sure you book at the correct location as they have offices in Key West, Marathon and Big Pine. We've dove out of both the KW and Big Pine offices as its about the same distance from the house, and each takes you to a different spot)
  • Captain's Corner
    • be aware the office and where you meet the boat are at different locations in Old Port, check the website for details
  • Looe Key Dive Resort
  • Diver's Direct - located right in Old Port, for all water gear you may need

Other full day trips