Key West is a resort Island that hosts a whole range of fun activities for both individuals and families. Recently, I visited the island during an academic conference focused on international Academic works. Despite being busy preparing and presenting my own research there were a few hours where I could find some time to explore the local scene. If you think of Key West you should also think of Cuban culture and life. Its orientation is very much Spanish with American spicing.
The day attraction rests on sandy white beaches that draw thousands of visitors every year. The beaches are located not far from the airport and near the string of local resorts. The beaches are dotted with people of all ages trying to obtain a quick sun tan before heading back to wherever they are from. The beaches are well groomed and clean. At Smather’s Beach you can parasail, rent hobie cates, windsurf, kayak and paddle boards. It’s a fun time!
The night life on Key West is equally full of fun and excitement. The majority of the party is on Duval Street and a few blocks thereof. Everything is within walking distance. This includes bars, restaurants, night clubs, street vendors and stores. The streets are crowded even on a Monday and Tuesday evening as vacation travelers and locals head to the area for some entertainment. Be careful because one could easily overdue it in this area.
The island also hosts glass bottom tours, parks, shopping, fishing escapades, and historical sites. There are plenty of things to do from small children to senior citizens. This may be why it is attractive as a tourist destination. It would be wise to note that due to the Spanish culture just about everything from the local vendors have a stated and a negotiated price. Don’t be afraid to ask for a price reduction, a volume discount, or any other type of strategic haggle. The islands history is of the Spanish economic mindset.
Key West was originally inhabited by the Calusa people. They arrived in the area around 12,000 years ago and lived primarily with the diet of fish. Their society was stratified with a few leaders such as the chief, the priest, and the military leader running the daily order of society. Their daily existence was well structured and some earthen mounds were used within their villages. Fishing nets were developed to maintain and grow their expanding empire.
The island was discovered by Juan Ponce de León in 1521. After that time it made its way into the Spanish kingdom. Land disputes occurred when the Spanish Governor of Cuba deeded the island to the artillery officer Juan Pablo Salas. Salas was so excited to get rid of the island he sold it twice to an American business owner and also through a sloop trader to the former governor of South Carolina. The dispute ended when a naval ship put the American flag on the Island claiming it for the government and giving it the name Key West.
It is amazing to look at the power of history within islands like this. The way people perceive their existence on the island, the historical Spanish past, the fishing history of the natives, and the cigar manufacturing of Cuba all have something to do with the unique attraction of the area. It is a place of difference that many Americans are not familiar with. Whether one is walking on the beach or walking from bar to bar it is possible to see the underpinnings of its past everywhere.