Island to Island Charters,
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Posts Tagged ‘key west back country’

3 Days Of Key West’s Best Adventures on the Water

August 19th, 2015

A wonderful family with 4 mostly grown children booked me for an afternoon of snorkeling, spear-fishing, dolphins…and whatever other fun stuff we could find to do. And believe me we found three days full of fun activities on the surrounding waters of Key West.

We started with snorkeling a patch reef just north west a few miles off Key West. In the summer the conditions are ideal for visibility & lots of marine life passing through. On our way there we came across a large pod of dolphins having loads of fun playing with each other. This is always a treat. This particular area they were in is crystal clear blue waters with a white sandy bottom. This means as the dolphins swim by the boat you can see every detail of them, even the expression on their face.

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After trying to photo their every move, we said good-bye to our amazing friends and headed to our snorkel spot. This place was full of the large Southern Sting-rays, Barracudas, loads of tropical fish etc… Also the oldest son was trying his skills at Spearfishing. This can be a great area for Snappers, Hogfish, & some Groupers. He was able to find a sizable Hogfish and successfully shoot it. Not bad for his first time!

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It was time to relax after a lot of snorkeling, so we found a sand bar to chill out on. That didn’t last long, the siblings soon started goofing around. Mom, however enjoyed floating around peacefully on her noodle while the kids were having their own fun. It is crazy to think you can stand in the middle of the ocean, that is one of the best parts of the Keys. All the beautiful shallow water.

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Another part of the adventurous days, was to snorkel a large shipwreck. This they thoroughly enjoyed because they saw a ton of cool marine life all over the wreck. And again, the son had his chance at practicing his spearfishing abilities. This time prooved a little more difficult, because the target were lion fish. Which are quite small, but are invasive and need to be eradicated! They also discovered the remains of bombs & torpedoes. It is great when my clients take an advantage of the great snorkeling around Key West. They have only done the bigger boats loaded with too many people. This time they discovered that on a private charter all the time was strictly theirs and customized to what they wanted to do. These very active adult children spent the majority of the time swimming, free diving, and snorkeling all over the backcountry and saw an array of amazing things.

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In 3 days we explored over 30 miles of the best features of the backcountry (the shallow, calm inner waters just off Key West). We snorkeled 2 patch reefs, shipwrecks, encountered dolphins, stingrays, sharks, and sea turtles. We also enjoyed several sand bars and 2 remote beaches. And most importantly, they were able to enjoy each other before they headed back to the busy real world. For this mom, each of her kids were attending a different school & this was an important time that the family was together.

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A Chilly, but Beautiful Day!

February 27th, 2015

I had spoken to my customer, Tony the night before and I expressed concern about high winds and unusually low temperatures predicted for the day of our charter. I definitely am not a captain that takes clients out regardless of the weather. It is important to me that it be an enjoyable trip for everyone (me included). I guess you could call me a “fair-weather captain”. In the morning I called him and gave him the option to go out on the boat or not. The winds were a little less than predicted. He decided he & his family wanted to go. I am really glad now, knowing what a great trip it turned out to be! Tony & his wife & her parents visiting from China had never been to Florida before, much less cruising through the shallows, and mangrove islands of the Backcountry. They were amazed to say the least. The best part of where I go is even on a windy day I can usually find shelter behind the islands. Also since I travel through such shallow water, it is not real choppy.

I recruited my husband Tony, a charter boat captain as well, to accompany me on this trip. At the very start, lo and behold a large pod of dolphins playing in a area right off Key West. So much fun to watch them jumping around and investigating us on the boat. This was the first time my clients would see dolphins in the wild. This is one of my favorite things about what I do, introducing people to the extraordinary elements of Mother Nature at her best!

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We had to pull ourselves away from the dolphins because there was so much more to see. One good thing about a windy day is if you get to see the kite boarders surfing the flats. I always enjoy watching them perform maneuvers and jumps and catch some serious wind and fly across the water. I have a lot of respect for their sport, but no desire to learn it. I will stick with being a spectator.

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We came to our first island which is always full of a large variety of birds relaxing in the mangroves. We tried to do some fishing, but were not having much luck. After pointing out all the different bird species we left to the next island to hopefully have better luck fishing.

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While we were fishing one of my favorite spots, we probable saw at least 6 Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Amazingly they were quite large and enjoying floating on the surface. I think they were trying to warm themselves in the sun. The water temperatures dipped to almost a record low that week. My clients were thrilled with seeing this, another first for them. And miraculously we were able to catch some fish with the water being so cold. Especially since this was their first time fishing!

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We were having so much fun, but we were running out of time and I had one more place I wanted to show them. One of my favorite islands has a few narrow channels to cruise through and I can only get there on a high tide. It is positively beautiful boating through this island. I knew they would appreciate it and they did!

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On the way home we went exploring for stingrays in the shallows right next to one of the mangrove islands, instead we saw dozens of Barracudas. That was very cool. The water was quite clear and you could see them very well. My husband and I really enjoyed our time with these guys. In spite of the cold, we laughed a lot and they discovered a whole new world.

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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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Boys Key West trip of fishing & football!

March 19th, 2014

We spent the day in the backcountry just a few miles east of Key West wade fishing on a beautiful white sand bar. Paul, visiting from Sweden with his two boys, caught a really nice Jack Creval. He was surprised at the fighting power of this fish!
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His two sons were really successful catching all sorts of Snappers.

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We were having such a great day fishing! I chummed up some Bonnet head sharks and he landed one! That was quite exciting for the boys to see the shark fishing.

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After all the fun fishing, we cruised around the islands looking for Sea turtles, Sting Rays, & Dolphins. And found a beautiful white sand beach exposed during low tide just ten miles from Key West. That was a perfect opportunity for the guys to play some football and enjoy the warm weather of Key West before returning to Sweden the following day.

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While enjoying watching the boys be boys, I saw some large Barracudas checking out the actions as well. Also the beautiful sight of daisy chaining Tarpon!

Ladies Day Fishing in Key West!

February 24th, 2014

We were very fortunate to enjoy a really nice day fishing just east of Key West in the backcountry.  We caught some Ladyfish, and lost quite a few as well.

 

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We cruised around the basin just off the Gulf of  Mexico and had quite a few bites, nothing too substantial.  We landed some Jack Crevals.  We were hoping for some Pompano that we spotted rolling around, but didn’t catch them.

 

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Too add to our variety, we also caught a Blue Runner and some Lane Snappers.

 

 

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We had quite a few visits from Black Tip Sharks, one which ate a Ladyfish that we just caught!  Cut him right in half, and then came back to finish it.  So we rigged up to Shark fish, and landed a young Black Tip Shark!  We were hoping the bigger ones we saw would make the young one bait as well, but to no avail.  Still a really good fight for a beginner angler in the Florida Keys, especially when you are light tackle fishing in shallow inland waters.

 

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At last we decided to enjoy a white sand beach on a remote mangrove island and relax after a good day fishing .

 

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They were happy to fish and really enjoyed the eco-tour.  We saw a large Loggerhead turtle, several smaller ones, Stingrays, Sharks, a Spotted Eagle Ray, and some unknown finning fish on the flats.  Jury is still out whether it was a Shark, Dolphin, Permit, or Tarpon.  Before returning to the dock we did a short Key West tour from the boat in the Key West Harbor.  We pointed out different Key West Bars, Restaurants, & Hotels.

Key West backcountry extravaganza

February 6th, 2014

I had the pleasure of taking a fabulous family out to experience the true beauty of Key West, the backcountry waters during low tide.  A couple with a nine month year old wanted to experience calm shallow waters with a remote beach.   We went east of Key West to a remote island full of mangroves and white sand bars.  The water was crystal clear when we passed into the gulf we actually saw two dolphins swim under our boat.  When we came close to the island I saw a nurse shark cruising by.  Before anchoring we passed over coral heads as well, a great lobster are to dive for lobsters.   We snorkeled a bit then relaxed on one of my favorite remote beaches in the Florida Keys, maybe a 30 minute boat ride from Key West.  Also known for its great fishing!IMG_3174 IMG_3175 IMG_3178 IMG_3179 IMG_3180 IMG_3181