People who live in Key West have what they call "island time." Simply put, it means everything moves a little bit slower and a whole lot more laid back than what people on the mainland are used to. This is true of the island all year round, but it especially becomes a way of life when the summer months roll in. If the purpose of your vacation is to relax and let all of your stress melt away, now is the perfect time to plan a trip to Key West and take advantage of all the ways they have to beat the heat.
Actually, you will already be beating it from the moment you step off the airplane. People mistakenly believe that the farther south you go, the farther north the mercury must be rising in the thermometer. The truth is that summer in Key West is typically eight to ten degrees cooler than other popular tourist destinations in mainland Florida, thanks to its location 120 miles out from the mainland. Straddling the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea means there is almost always a cooling breeze blowing across the island.
Not only is that breeze important for keeping the island cool, it is also instrumental in one of the best afternoon delights on the island: snorkeling the only barrier reef in North America. Several different charter operations have sailing ships that take people out for the chance to see exotic fish and other sea creatures in their native habitat. And snorkeling is only one activity waiting for you on the ocean. There is also fishing, jet skiing, scuba diving, parasailing, glass bottom boats and guided kayak tours.
If you are looking to spend your afternoon relaxing on dry land, there are over 300 Key West restaurants to choose from. Some of them feature indoor air conditioned dining rooms, but others allow you to enjoy casual elegance sitting on their outdoor dining patios, shaded by palm trees and cooled by the trade winds. There you can let the hours drift away while enjoying fresh seafood and refreshing ice cold cocktails.
Naturally, the best way to relax is by doing as little as possible, and there is a place for that, too. Actually several of them, as Key West has public beaches on three sides of the island. Whether you string a hammock between two trees or lounge on an umbrella shaded recliner, there are plenty of waterfront choices to get sand between your toes.
Whatever your summertime fancy is remember there is one thing you will not need: your watch. Summertime is the perfect time to understand what Key West island time is all about. You will soon learn how all the locals just let the stress drift away.
Jack Terry is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who lived in Key West for several years. http://www.rooftopcafekeywest.com