The drive to Key West was long. 3 and a half hours long. The way there wasn’t too bad as the road is predominately a bridge over the Atlantic Ocean, which was pretty exciting, for the first 10 minutes. The plan for the day was dolphin watching, snorkelling and eating lots of Key lime pie. We only managed one.
In fairness, Key West is adorable. It feels like it’s stuck in the past in a time where a train counts as an attraction and everyone in a community knows each other and actually speaks. It’s worth a visit but definitely pick your day wisely.
We didn’t. It was sunny in the morning so we looked for a beach for a while before realising that THERE WASNT ONE. It was all harbour on the tourist side of island so we drove to the other side where we found the most pathetic excuse for a beach imaginable. This was not the American-Caribbean I was promised.
The storm hit around 2pm but our dolphin watching and snorkelling tour had already been cancelled by then. We consoled ourselves with some chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick, which was definitely the highlight of the day.
I imagine Key West is a great place to visit on a lovely sunny day but in any other weather it really isn’t worth the ridiculously long drive. I wish I could have just gone for an hour.
For our time Miami Beach we stayed at a hostel on Collins Avenue. It was fairly cheap and friendly but most importantly it was in a great location so we could wander around the area and get a feel for it whilst feeling safe and in control.
We were there for a Friday and Saturday night, which is probably the worst time to visit as South Beach seems to turn into the American equivalent of Magaluf. However, on the second night, whilst trying to find Visa 01 Pizza (which had been recommended but we just couldn’t find) we stumbled across a fairly busy yet peaceful shopping street, called Lincoln Road I think, with loads of open air restaurants, away from the rowdiness of the ocean front. If possible I’d definitely recommend checking it out, although the food was a little pricey.
We didn’t have much time in Miami because of all the trips we had planned so we didn’t do much exploring, especially as the rain left us stranded in a mall. However we did manage to squeeze in an hour on the beach, at 7pm after a thunderstorm; still hotter than midday in Britain though.
It was a great place to visit but, as I’m under 21, we really didn’t need any more than a few days here as the tourist industry seems to cater mainly to the scantily clad, heavy drinkers. If that’s your style then certainly stay longer, and pack a lot of neon because that’s a thing there apparently.
Upon arriving in Miami I learnt something. Miami and Miami Beach are separate cities. I also learnt that the American definition of city is literally any area with houses and people in it. This was further reinforced when we got to “Everglade City”, a collection of houses at the far end of the Everglades. We were here for Captain Jacks boat tours, despite driving past billboards for around 50 other companies on our way.
I’m glad we kept driving though. There were 4 other people on our boat, a very stereotypical American family with a moody teenager and an overally enthusiastic dad. Our captain was lovely and guided us through a small section of the 1.5 million acres of mangrove forest. (Although he said a million and a half so I assumed he meant 1,000,000.5).
After the ride we got free entry to their wildlife park where we saw tigers, lions and a wide variety of alligators and crocodiles. It was a nice addition although probably not worth it if you had to pay as the big cats looked depressed and you saw raccoons and gators on the boat anyway.
Whether you go with Captain Jacks or not, it probably doesn’t matter, I’d definitely recommend taking a trip to the Everglades for an airboat trip if you’re visiting the Miami area. It’s something totally different and was only about an hour away.