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Key West Seaport Connects Key West History With The Present

Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk at Key West Bight is quite a mouthful to say, and befittingly so.

A name this long and complex is appropriate for a place that offers so much.

It also helps to break down the name into appropriate sections to get an idea of what it means.

First, the area is obviously a seaport. The hundreds of schooners, yachts, shrimp and fishing boats stacked out in the water attest to this fact.

Second, it actually has a walkway along the harbor that consists of a teak boardwalk in places, and cobblestone streets in others. These walkways wind along the waters edge and are lined with funky shops and popular Key West restaurants on the other side.

The last part of the name refers to it's geographical formation which was caused by a bend in the shoreline forming it's wide bay. The bay is then surrounded by land on three sides. This creates a naturally protected harbor which provides the perfect combination of shelter for boats, while promoting healthy commerce.

Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk

Key West Seaport And Harbor Walk

Key West Attractions and
History At Seaport Harbor Walk

With about 2 miles of boardwalk stretching in a "U" shape from Grinnell to Front Street, Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk is packed with all sorts of touristy Key West attractions.

You'll also quickly discover that the area exudes an old world charm, that provides a glimpse back in time, as you envision Key West Bight's historical significance.

Harbor Master At Harbor Walk

Dockmaster Key West Bight

Even though the years have changed this place, it's managed to maintain a certain, important distinction. Apart from being a lovely tourist destination filled with unique shops, dynamite Key West restaurants and impressive yachts and other pleasure craft, it's still a working Key West marina.

Long gone however, are the days when boatloads of massive sea turtles lined the docks in preparation for market. No longer do horse drawn wagons tote heavy loads of sea sponges to the sponge exchange. Nor do you see row upon row of only shrimp and fishing boats crammed tightly together in the water. Neither do burly wreckers use the seaport as their theater of operation for rescuing passengers and cargo from grounded ships.

Key West Sponge Market

Key West Sponge Market

Things are much different now, but there's still a tie to Key West history as you observe her modern day shrimpers and fishermen hard at work. You can catch a glimpse of them as they head out for a day at sea, or stand back and watch them prepare their daily catch of Florida fish for market. The real working world of these men adds a salty flavor to the charming kiosks, shops and Key West restaurants that line the boardwalk and cobblestone walkways.

The fact that Key West Bight is still a working waterfront sets it apart from other seaports that no longer support this way of life. Here you get a sense of history, while enjoying the pleasures of today, and this is reason to celebrate.

Tall Ship and other boats at the Key West Bight Marina

Boats And Tall Ship At Key West Seaport Harbor Walk, Key West Bight

The Conch Republic of course is no stranger to celebration. Perhaps it's the combination of Key West weather and the island way of life, but there always seems to be a party or at least a reason for one. It's only fitting that the Historic Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk be a part of the ongoing revelry.

Even as the year draws to a close, the celebrations kick into high gear. Six weeks before Christmas the party begins, and Key West Bight is decked out in merriment for the official Harbor Walk of Lights.

Garland, nautical decorations and sparkling Christmas lights drape from stores, Key West bars and restaurants. Ships and yachts are bedecked in dazzling jewels of shimmering light. Even the water is lit from below with festive colors. Anchoring the event is a towering Christmas tree that fills the air with the heady, traditional smell of the season.

Whether it's Christmas or the 4th of July, the atmosphere is always rocking at Key West Seaport. This popular destination is home to a large marina, numerous restaurants featuring a fine selection of food, plus complimentary water and sunset views. Bars dot the walkway, while music and voices spill out onto the teak boardwalk, adding to the sounds of the harbor.

Schooner Wharf Bar at Seaport Harbor Walk

Schooner Wharf Bar At Seaport Harbor Walk
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

Fun Things To See And Do
At Key West Harbor

The Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk is the perfect place to take in the fresh sea air, and enjoy a leisurely saunter or a walk with your dog.

The stores located opposite the water's edge provide an interesting mix of items for the casual or avid shopper. T-shirts hang outside shop entrances dancing in the breeze, novelty and custom jewelry glitter in windows, and casual resort and sports wear are intermixed with accent items and intriguing gifts.

As you stroll along the Key West Harbor Walk you'll usually encounter a small crowd of people huddled together feeding the fish. Their laughter and chatter mingle with the loud splashes of water as the hungry tarpon greedily snatch the tossed shrimp shells and other treats out of the air.

Tarpon Feeding Area At Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk, Key West Bight

Tarpon Feeding Area At Key West Harbor Walk

You'll also discover that as busy as it can get, the hustle and bustle is less than at Mallory Square. However, the crowds due tend to thicken around happy hour. Even more arrive to enjoy an early meal and take advantage of another famous Key West sunset as the sun slowly dips it's head into the water.

Adding to the charm of Key West Seaport Harbor Walk are the many Key West boats moored in the marina. Here you'll find luxury yachts, schooners, shrimp boats and small pleasure craft all moored together in this popular Key West marina.

This Key West harbor is not only a great place to 'boat watch,' it's the best spot to go for a variety of boat activities.

You can choose from high speed ferry rides out to Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park, or a romantic Key West sunset cruise.

Henry Flagler Statute at Key West Bight Ferry Terminal

Henry Flagler Statue Stands Watch Near Ferry Terminal
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

You can rent boats, kayaks and jet skis, go parasailing, take in an ecotour or dolphin watch, hire a snorkel or fishing charter, or go with a dive shop out at the USS Vandenberg wreck.

This Key West harbor is also where the Key West Bight Ferry Terminal is located. This ferry travels back and forth from Key West to Naples and Fort Myers FL and is very popular with people further up the 'West' coast of Florida.

Instead of driving to Key Largo FL and then traveling the many miles of the Overseas Highway, you can be in Key West Florida by ferry in about 3 hours.

Since Old Town Key West is so compact, anyone arriving by ferry can explore this charming Harbor Walk. After, it's an easy stroll over to Mallory Square and Duval St, before heading back to catch the returning ferry. Better yet, plan on staying over a night or two at any of the great Key West lodging facilities, and enjoy a mini Key West vacation.

Sailing at Sunset Near Key West Bight Marina

Sunset Sail Key West
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

Key West Seaport has a special magic all it's own, and the spell it casts upon those who live and visit here is obvious. The combination of shimmering blue ocean, magnificent vessels moored in harbor, incredible aromas, and a broad spectrum of Key West things to do, it's a place that's hard to resist.

Through the centuries Key West Bight has evolved with the changing times and has continued to prosper. It's blend of the old and new, make Key West Seaport and Harbor Walk the exciting destination you'll discover still today.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040