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Key West is a small island but it’s bursting at the seams with things to do, to see, to buy, to marvel at. Many people visit the island via a cruise ship and only get to spend a precious few hours ashore, so you better make them count!

Get out your pen and paper and get ready to jot down these 5 things you must do if you’re only spending one day in the Conch Republic!

1. Hit the Beach

Key West isn’t known for it’s beaches, but if you’re on vacation or holiday you’re going to want your toes to sink into some sand. The most popular beach on Key West is Smathers Beach. Located on the south side of the island, Smathers is easy to get to and has plenty of space to call your own. In my opinion this isn’t the best beach, people in the know ditch on Smathers and head for the beach at Fort Zachary. This beach is protected by a couple man made sea walls that break the surf and offer a great place to snorkel. I was surprised by a large barracuda one time that was stalking on the rocks!

2. Hit the Bars

Key West Bars

Key West is famous for its bars. If you haven’t heard of the Duval Crawl then you’ve been living under a mountain. If I only had one day in Key West I would definitely hit places like Margaritaville, Captain Tony’s Saloon, Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevins, Schooner Wharf and new favorite Virgilio’s.

3. Hit the Water

Key West snorkeling

Key West is surrounded by beautiful clear blue water and coral reefs, you can’t help want to dive right in. The best way to do this is take one of the many snorkel boats that make daily runs out to the reefs. You’ll see beautiful coral formations and a bounty of underwater sea life. Then when you get out of the water they’ll have free beer for you! At least they did on my boat, I love Key West.

4. Southern Most Marker

Key West

It might be cliche and it might be touristy but getting your photo taken at the southern most marker is a Key West must, especially if you’ve never been before. The marker famously says 90 miles to Cuba and it marks the southern most part of the continental United States. In reality the distance to Cuba is a little more than 90 miles and the southern most part of Key West is actually further west and part of the military base.

5. Sunset at Mallory Square

Key West Mallory Square

Mallory Square – Photo via

If you haven’t seen a Mallory Square sunset then you haven’t been to Key West. People gather at the large square on a nightly basis not only to watch the sun dip below the horizon but to take in the spectacle of performers. You’ll see things like a sword swallowing pirate, cats that walk tight ropes, a guy that does floor gymnastics and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s crazy but it’s all Key West.

That is my top 5 Key West musts. What would you add to this list? Which of these have you done?

(Sunset photo from Visitadude via


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About the Author: RumShopRyan

Just a salty pirate looking to explore and document the wonders of the Caribbean. Professional blogger, rum judge, consultant, marketer, and consumer of blue water beauty. To learn more, visit our About Us Page.