Island to Island Charters,
Key West: Daily Updates

Key West Beaches & Sandbars

August 15th, 2014

I finally had the opportunity to head to a remote island with an endless white sandy beach at low tide with a family that chartered me. It was the parents and three grown kids. Upon arrival everyone was amazed at how gorgeous this area really is. We were the only boat there. It is an island in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge about 15 miles North East of Key West. The drive out there is through gorgeous mangrove islands and large white sand bars all along the way. One of the most picturesque places in the Florida Keys.

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This is also a perfect place to teach beginners how to snorkel. Shallow calm waters with a Coral hard bottom full of small tropical fish. In no time they had mastered snorkeling. I knew they would be comfortable when we snorkeled a reef. They even encountered a large Barracuda and didn’t flinch.

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After relaxing on the beach for a bit we continued their boat charter to more fabulous locations. We cruised the Gulf of Mexico to the next set of islands to explore one of my favorite sandbars. Immediately we saw a Bullshark in about 1 1/2 feet of water swimming quickly across the sandbar definitely on the scent of something. Also we saw large stingrays, a school of Bonefish (that we saw a shark chase after),& a large Nurseshark. Lots of activity on the Flats in the Florida Keys during a low tide. My favorite time to relax on the Hurricane deckboat and watch an array of marine life cross a white sand bar.

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We continued on past several mangrove islands back to the gulf to try our luck at dolphin watching. Key West dolphin watching is by far one of the best parts of my job. Amazingly we discovered them just off Key West towards the North a few miles. They were playing in about 10 feet of clear blue water. You can distinguish all their details as they swim by the boat. In this case we came across them wrestling and jumping out of the water having loads of fun. We even saw the younger dolphin calfs playing around, always an incredible sight.

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After sometime enjoying dolphin watching, we stopped another white sand bar to have lunch and enjoy the surrounding beauty. It is nice to charter a private boat charter to be able to do what you want when you want with the knowledge of an eco guide to show you amazing places just outside of Key West. And also not worry about driving. Just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride!

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At last everybody was ready to snorkel the patch reef. We saw large Stingrays, Barracudas, a small Nurseshark and lots of colorful tropical fish. For beginners they snorkeled very well, looked like pros. On the way back to Key West we stopped at a small shallow wreck to snorkel some more and they were surprised how it was loaded with fish. We have lots of snorkeling options in Key West, from patch reefs to all sorts of wrecks to mangrove islands to sponge beds. Key West snorkeling gives you alot of opportunity to view an array of marine life. It definitely is a great reason for a Key West vacation.

Key West Boating

August 9th, 2014

I had a lovely newlywed couple from Wisconsin charter me for a fun day on the water in Key West. The summer days in the Florida Keys are our favorite time for boating. The water is calm, crystal clear, & quite warm. So we started out snorkeling a patch reef just a few miles West of Key West. This reef in the summer is full of very large Southern Stingrays. They also saw a Nurseshark, Barracudas, and loads of tropical reef fish. It is quite nice because the large boats usually don’t go there so there are very few people. Also as a private charter you are free from the crowds.

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We definitely had to hit the beach after snorkeling. My honeymooners were able to enjoy a remote island all to themselves. How romantic is that? Not another boat in sight. It is a beautiful island with a natural beach just 15 miles West of Key West in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. At certain tides the Boca Grande has hermit crabs cruising the beach. Also stingrays enjoy the white sand bottom. This is the true beauty of the Florida Keys. Calm blue waters surrounding lush green mangrove islands. Nothing but the sound of birds and the rippling of the ocean. I can understand why my customers tell me my trip is the highlight of their Key West vacation. I never get tired of experiencing days like these.

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Just a minute from the island is a large shipwreck. They snorkeled the shipwreck for sometime and discovered a large school of parrotfish, starfish, stingrays, and various colorful fish. We have a lot of wrecks in the surrounding waters of Key West, but this one is usually full of the most marine life.

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We returned to the boat, relaxed and cruised back towards Key West with plans of stopping at a sand bar along the way. We came across some dolphins en route. Stopped and enjoyed their antics. Nothing is quite as wonderful as dolphin watching! It amazes me how many people have never seen them in the wild, I am so lucky to expose them to such a wonder.

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We enjoyed a nice boat trip back to Key West along the Atlantic. Past the islands in the Lakes. Caught a glimpse of a few sea turtles. All and all a successful day boating the Key West shallows.

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Key West Sand Bars

August 3rd, 2014

I was joined by two very fun couples celebrating their birthdays in Key West. They visit the island frequently, but haven’t had a chance to explore the beauty of the backcountry of the Florida Keys. We cruised East about 14 miles to a gorgeous white sand remote beach extending off a mangrove island into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the only beach in the area and only occurs during low tide. We were very fortunate to catch it at the best time.

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After enjoying the remote beach we explored mangroves and white sand bars looking for wildlife. We saw Stingrays, Bonnethead Sharks, Barracudas, Sea Turtles, Tarpon, & a nice size Bull Shark! The mangrove islands in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge our abundant with bird and marine life. It really is the ultimate escape from the real world to absolute beauty and tranquility. There are some days I don’t see another boat for hours. (It is too shallow for the larger cattle boats.) It is really worth taking a private boat eco charter to see what the Florida Keys really has to offer.

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At last it was time to go dolphin watching! We headed back towards Key West in hopes of finding the resident pod of dolphins. We were surrounded by endless blue crystal clear water and not another boat in sight. One of my favorite places to be! Another incredible moment of dozens of dolphins playing around the boat providing huge amounts of entertainment. My private charter had never experienced seeing dolphins in the wild. They were absolutely thrilled and could not belief how interested the dolphins were in us. They discovered how truly intelligent those creatures are!

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We thoroughly enjoyed the day of dolphin watching, relaxing on the beach, chilling on sand bars, and taking in all that nature has to offer! Lots of laughs and a decision to definitely do this again next time they are in town!

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Key West Snorkeling

July 22nd, 2014

I had a superb day with a family from Texas visiting Key West for the first time. Luckily for me, they decided to book my private boat charter for 2 days. We were able to explore a lot of the Key West backcountry all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. We started our wonderful day together dolphin watching.

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We proceeded West of Key West to a patch reef to do some snorkeling. First we stopped at a sandbar to practice because it was their son’s first time snorkeling. Both parents were advanced scuba divers and were anxious to show him all the amazing marine life.

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We had excellent visibility for snorkeling. They saw Stingrays, tons of tropical fish, Barracudas, Nurse Sharks, and various forms of coral. The son was an expert in no time!

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I decided with their enjoyment of snorkeling to take them to a wreck just off of Boca Grande. They saw a large school of Parrotfish, Tarpon, and a lot of large Southern Stingrays. After that we relaxed on a remote island with a beautiful natural sandy beach. They had their picnic lunch there. While relaxing on a shallow white sand bar we noticed a very large dark area in the water moving. It was a bait ball full of small brown fish!

Several tarpon were feeding as well. None of us had ever seen anything like that. It was amazing to witness! They grabbed their masks and snorkeled in the midst of thousands and thousands of little fish swimming all around them.

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We left the island and cruised the Atlantic past Woman & Ballest Key. We did stop to enjoy the very soft sand. That is where they found dozens of gorgeous Queen Conchs, Sand Dollars, and Bonnethead Sharks. We were lucky to view a Bullshark swim by the boat.

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We headed back to Key West after a full day of adventure, and exploration of the Key West shallows, flats, remote beaches, mangrove islands, wrecks, reefs, sandbars & more. I am grateful to have been a part of their Key West vacation and hope to do it again.

A Great Day Boating in Key West

June 27th, 2014

I really enjoy being a charter boat captain in Key West always cruising our gorgeous waters, but this day was especially nice. Two couples from Illinois wanted a relaxing day on the water so they booked a day with me, Capt. Ally of Island to Island Charters. We left the marina and headed for an area hoping to spot some dolphins. Lucky us we found a pod of maybe 8 to 10 dolphins just a few miles off Key West in crystal clear blue water. Visibility was incredible!

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After dolphin watching we headed further towards the Gulf to snorkel a patch reef. We had calm fabulous conditions for snorkeling. We snorkeled two areas of the reef and they saw a ton of tropical fish, a large barracuda, a Nurse Shark, large Southern Stingrays, etc. Overall a very successful snorkeling experience in Key West.

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We proceeded to cruise the Key West Wildlife Refuge along the Gulf and headed towards a remote island with a natural sandy beach. We were the only boat there to enjoy beachcombing for shells, floating, and laying on the sand bars. Their own private island in the Florida Keys. (just a few miles away from the craziness of Key West.) We saw sharks and sea turtles along the way.

Sand bar therapy!

Sand bar therapy!

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Susan is a really good floater!

Susan is a really good floater!

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Funny enough, I brought fishing rods and bait for some backcountry light tackle fishing, but relaxing on the beach seemed to be a strong priority. You gotta admire people that prioritize well! We left the island in search of another pod of dolphins in a different area and we found them immediately. This pod is a little larger and came swimming right underneath the boat when Susan and Debbie were sitting on the bow. They were super excited to see dolphins that close, they definitely never experienced anything like that before. I am still thrilled anytime a dolphin graces me with their presence. It is humbling to see a creature that magnificent! We are very fortunate to have such a large amount of dolphins who reside year round in the waters surrounding Key West.

We headed back towards Key West from the Atlantic to the Lakes past all the Mangrove Islands. After crossing the channel I showed them Sunset Key and all the beautiful homes before returning to the dock. I am really happy they found my Key West charter boat business on trip advisor for the top Key West activities. They appreciated having a day to themselves on their time, not on a big boat full of people. We went most of the day with just seeing a few other boats in the backcountry. Coming back to Key Weston our way to Garrison Bight Marina, they saw the crowded boats and were reminded how great their day was on their own private charter boat away from everyone else exploring areas larger boats can’t get to!

Key West Fishing & Island Hopping

June 21st, 2014

I had the joy of taking out two sisters and their husbands for a private boat charter in the Key West backcountry for some relaxation & fun! They were visiting Key West for a relatives beach wedding and had one free day to spend with Island to Island Charters. I took them through the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge exploring mangrove islands, sandbars, and an assortment of marine life. First we traveled NorthEast of Key West to a remote beach full of beautiful white sand and shallow turquoise water.

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After some beach combing for shells we cruised on the Gulf to anchor in a channel and light tackle fish for Snappers, Jacks, Sharks..etc. We were fishing over hard bottom coral where a lot of fish usually can be found. They were more focused on relaxing on the boat and enjoying the tranquility of it all. For those that work a lot and are busy taking care of their families, this boat trip is definitely good therapy to restore your energy and “check-out”!

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As we cruised the flat, calm waters back to Key West we encountered a large Loggerhead sea turtle, Nurse Shark, and a pod of dolphins. What an amazing day! A Key West vacation is an excellent choice, especially if you escape on a private boat trip to discover the true beauty of the keys.

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Key West Family Fishing Trip

May 8th, 2014

This family reserved a private boat charter with me to do some fishing, cruise some sand bars, and basically explore the backcountry of Key West. For this I traveled a few miles west to a small channel which generally is good for light tackle fishing. We didn’t score any large fish, but we definitely caught a wide variety of species. (Mangrove snappers, Spanish Mackerel, a Puffer fish, Lane Snappers, Grunts, and Blue Runners).

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The winds were calm which provided an ideal opportunity to travel the Atlantic instead of the Lakes to the various mangrove islands and sand bars. We stopped at a spot which was a very shallow white soft sand where they played some football while their mom combed the beach for shells. One half of this island is protected for sea turtles to lay their eggs. We saw Stingrays and lots of Barracudas. It is nice to be able to blend both a Key West fishing trip and Eco tour to satisfy all the members of the family. Key West has a lot to offer a family. Plenty of water activities like snorkeling the coral reefs, light tackle fishing, kayaking, and discovering unique marine and birdlife are all available year round. Not to mention the warmest year round temperature in the U.S. Its fun to take people away from the hustle of Duval St. and escape to the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge to only here the sounds of birds.

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What a Glorious Day on the Key West Waters!

May 5th, 2014

I had the privilege of taking two guys around on a private backcountry boat charter where we explored the gorgeous blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the flats around Key West. We started the trip headed out to a patch coral reef just a few miles West. The water was crystal clear for snorkeling and we were the only boat out there. As I getting them ready to snorkel a handful of dolphins swim by to check us out. Always a great way to start the day! They saw a lot of very large Southern Sting Rays, Barracudas, and a vast variety of colorful tropical reef fish. Definitely a great snorkeling experience.

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We took a little time to practice jumping, diving, and plummeting into the perfectly clear blue waters surrounding Key West. I had the challenging task of trying to photograph the moving targets.

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What fun these guys were! They had been traveling to Key West for sometime and this was their first time on Island to Island Charters. This was a very relaxing boat trip where they enjoyed the peace and quiet away from technology and surrounded by absolute beauty! Upon heading back to Key West we stumbled across another pod of dolphins. They came right up to the boat and the guys had never seen them that closely. You can see the shadow of them swimming underneath the boat.

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Before ending our eco cruise, I anchored us one a white sand bar to watch another fabulous Key West Sunset! We watched for stingrays, sea turtles, and various sharks swimming on the flats. It was one of those flat calm times where the water and the horizon blend and everything looks like glass. The colors were magnificent. You can see the ripple of anything moving in the water. Always an amazing time to be out there. So glad I got to enjoy it with the guys, and really looking forward to more exploring the next time they are back in the Keys!

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Dolphins, Snorkeling, Remote Beaches for first timers to Key West!

May 2nd, 2014

What an incredible day spent with a couple from Chicago who had never experienced the gorgeous waters off Key West! We began the trip with a little bit of light tackle fishing just a few miles west of Key West. We caught a variety of Snappers, Jacks, Blue Runners, etc. Lots of fun guessing what’s next to bite the hook.

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We proceeded to a patch reef full of beautiful coral heads to do a bit of snorkeling. The Atlantic was flat calm and provided us with great visibility. Considering it was their first time and they were a tad nervous, the conditions were ideal. I have a lot of experience with beginners and its a perfect situation to literally get your toes wet. The coral and vast varieties of reef fish are real close to the boat and not in deep water so it makes it a lot easier to get comfortable and really be able to enjoy the incredible world beneath the surface. Don’t get me wrong I have also had very experienced snorkelers hear as that love it as well. After sometime cruising the coral, they came back on the boat boasting about everything they saw. One of the many things I enjoy about my job is being able to provide this incredible experience, especially for my first timers. As a teacher, she took a lot of photos to share with the children in her classroom.

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After reviewing all the different species of fish, we traveled along the Atlantic just a little south of “the Lakes” headed to a remote island with a beach. I also was hoping that this particular direction we might encounter a pod of dolphins. Neither of them had witnessed dolphins in the wild, so I was looking very closely for them. Just as we were rounding the island to our beach destination, in just a few feet of crystal blue water, was a pod of dolphins! This is a sight that still makes me unbelievably happy. I could only imagine what they felt having never seen this before.

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When we landed on the island we were the only people there. They combed the beach for shells and enjoyed walking in the shallow blue waters.

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We headed back towards Key West in hope of catching a fabulous sunset. We cruised around the harbor and saw Mallory Square, Sunset Key and all the beautiful Sailboats. We dropped anchor at a sand bar to enjoy the sun drop into the Gulf of Mexico. What a beautiful day we had. All they talked about was needing to move here when they retired, which was coming up soon. There is something unbelievably special about this place that once is gets in your blood it never leaves!

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Branden & Arturo’s Key West Sunset Wedding

April 25th, 2014

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I officiated a wedding for Branden & Arturo on the bow of the boat during a sunset cruise. It was an intimate Key West wedding ceremony with their closest friends and their parents. I took them to a remote sand bar just a few miles from Key West and anchored in the calm shallow water. They really enjoyed being out on the water especially during low tide in the backcountry to view all the beautiful colors of the flats. It is one of my favorite places to go and watch the various marine life travel across the flats. Now I got to perform a wedding there, in a secluded gorgeous setting.

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The “Miss Marie” was perfect for their intimate romantic wedding. They stood on the bow surrounded by water and the magical colors of sunset while everyone on the boat witnessed their exchange of wedding vows.

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We soon celebrated with a champagne toast that the
Bride’s father gave welcoming his new son-in-law to the family. The Bride’s mom provided individually decorated cupcakes made by Key West Cakes and an assortment of snacks. Just before the sunset we cruised to Mallory Square to announce the Newlyweds to everyone! All the tourists on Key West‘s shore were clapping and celebrating with us while we cruised by on the boat.

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It was truly a beautiful boat trip. Ideal setting for a small simple yet truly unique wedding ceremony in Key West. For those that want carefree, stress free, and a real Key West wedding, barefoot on the boat is the way to go. What an amazing event to be a part of, I am very happy for Branden & Arturo!