Key West Aquarium and More

As I’ve said, before: Key West is a tiny little island, but there is so much so do here.  Most visitors know all about the restaurant and night life, but they don’t know much about what to do in the daytime.  This post discusses three different attractions in Key West that you might use to fill your daylight hours.

Key West Aquarium

I’m not much for aquariums, if you’ve seen one then you’ve seen them all, but it was raining and Mona wanted to go to, so of course we went.  Even though it was raining we walked the three blocks from our hotel to the aquarium which is located adjacent to Mallory Square.

Shark!

Shark!

The aquarium is pretty small and all on one floor, making it wheel chair-accessable.  It was built in the early 30s as part of the Great Depression public works program and was closed in the 1940s so the military could use it as a rifle range.  Lucky for us, the aquarium was reopened in 1946 and continues to this day.

The first exhibit we saw was a small “pond” just past the entry.  In the water were starfish, sea cucumbers and horseshoe crabs.  I was thinking, “No big deal.” when one of the guides came up and said, “You can pick them up if you like.”  SAY WHAT!?!?!  The guide then showed us how to pick up each sea creature without hurting ourselves or them.  We were both enthralled and proceeded to pick up each critter one by one.  The neatest was picking up the horseshoe crab.  They’ve always intimidated me but turns out that they are harmless.  This was so cool….and I was hooked!

Even Mona liked holding the horseshoe crabs!

Even Mona liked holding the horseshoe crabs!

The next exhibit was a long pool about 4 feet deep.  In the pool were several nurse sharks and it was feeding time.  This time the staff did the feeding while we watched, but wait….they asked for volunteers.  A little boy of ten and I were the only two to step up and we were shown how to wait till the sharks raised their nose/snout to us and we dropped the food in so they could snap it up.  Awesome!

Feeding 6 foot sharks!

Feeding 6 foot sharks!

Outside the building is a bigger pool separated from the sea by only a wire fence and it had many more sharks. It was feeding time for them…unfortunately it wasn’t my turn to help but it was still cool to watch and learn.  There are also several sea turtles outside, most of which are rescues.  One of the turtles was hurt so badly that the aquarium vets had to permanently attach weights to him to keep him balanced in the water.

Even I obeyed this sign!

Even I obeyed this sign!

There were several more exhibits inside and outside the building.  All feature local sea life and all are very well displayed and very interesting.  In all, we spent a couple of hours here and learned a lot about Key West Marine life.  What a great way to spend a rainy day or a hot afternoon!

Poor sea turtle with counterweights

Poor sea turtle with counterweights

The Truman Little White House

The Little White House was across the street from our hotel and we walked by it several times wondering what it was. Finally, after hearing an overview about it while on the Conch Train we decided we needed to take the tour…and we’re glad we did!

This small house used to be the home of the commander of the naval base located here on Key West.  At that time the house was very close to the shore.  Now, the naval base is gone and the shore is some distance away as they filled in the area to create more land.  However, this little historic house still stands.

The Truman Little White House (no pics allowed inside)

The Truman Little White House (no pics allowed inside)

This was where President Harry Truman used to come for rest and relaxation.  He loved the area and came here eleven times during and after his administration.  The house isn’t elaborate nor is it very big, but it’s very well maintained and is rich in history, particularly in regards to Harry Truman.  As luck would have it, our tour guide was a life-long resident of Key West and old enough to have met President Truman on one of his visits.  Hearing his personal stories made the visit all the more special!

Fury’s Glass Bottom Boat

Here in Key West you hear much about the Great Florida Reef which is the third largest barrier reef in the world and which lies just off the coast.  We wanted a close up view of the reef so we boarded Fury’s Glass Bottom Boat to see what we could see.  (Yes, you can see more by skin diving or snorkeling, but neither is in Mona’s repertoire so we do boats.)

Our glass-bottomed catamaran

Our glass-bottomed catamaran

The ride to the reef takes about an hour and along the way our guide pointed out key points along the harbor and then prepped us for what we were about to see.  The sea was choppy so we didn’t see any sea life along the way, but it was still a nice ride.

Once at the reef the boat stopped and everyone gathered around the catamaran’s glass hulls and watched the live show below.  We saw barracuda, coral and lots of other colorful fish.  Due to our visit to the aquarium we knew most of what we were looking at.  For the rest, the onboard guide was nearby and ready to answer all questions.

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Comfortable way to look into the sea!

We were on the reef for about an hour and of course it took another hour to get back, making this a three-hour tour.  A three-hour tour!  (Sorry about that!)

This is a great way to see the reef for those who don’t want to get wet!

Farewell to Key West

We only spent seven days in Key West but we did so many things and had so much fun that I’ve written nine posts about our visit. It seems like a lot, but I could write so much more on this little island. Key West is unique and so totally cool! No wonder so many come here to visit and to live.  I can’t wait to return!

Tips

For more information on the Key West Aquarium: Key West Aquarium

Here’s more information on Truman’s Little White House: The Little White House

Fury Glass Bottom Boat information is here: Glass Bottom Boat

As always, here’s a great place to find more information on Key West: Florida Keys Info

P.S.

I can’t say goodbye to Key West without one more island chick picture!

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