Island to Island Charters,
Key West: Daily Updates

Posts Tagged ‘key west dolphin watching’

Key West: Sharks, Beaches, Sandbars, Sea Turtles

October 22nd, 2015

A family from New Jersey chartered me for a 6 hour trip on the water for a little bit of fishing, exploring & chilling on a sandbar. The weather was more than cooperative and I was really looking forward to a beautiful day. We started the day off well with a pod of dolphins playing around. I was pleased to hear the young boy, Jackson, admit he has never seen wild dolphins.

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After being amused by the dolphins rough housing each other we cruised to a channel to drop anchor and try our luck at fishing. Sometimes this channel produces & sometimes not so much. Generally light tackle fishing in the backcountry is better during winter months. It seems the bait fish come in & that brings our schools of larger fish to the channels. This time of the year should be when I start to see schools of Jacks, Bar Jacks, Ladyfish, Bluerunners. Both Jackson & his dad did catch Yellowtail Snappers, but not much else going on. So time to hit the sandbar.

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We traveled about 30 minutes west of Key West to an island on the Atlantic side with one of my favorite white sand bars. Usually I can find shallow water here regardless of the tides. More importantly the sand is amazingly soft. This is a great spot to introduce snorkeling to young kids & adults to get them comfortable with the gear. Jackson enjoyed swimming about looking for small fish and shells. His mother held his 18 month year old sister in the water while she splashed around. We were very fortunate to have some Southern Stingrays swim past us. Upon leaving the sandbar a Loggerhead swam right in front of the boat. My clients rarely get this amazing opportunity to enjoy the sight of such a magnificent creature because they are quite shy, incredibly fast, & blend well with their surroundings. This sea turtle was swimming over a white sand bar & not so quickly.

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Now it was time to head to the shipwreck and do some fishing. I was very happy to see large schools of fish swimming by. Jackson caught Grey Snappers, Blue Runners, Porgy, & a very large Bar Jack that gave him a heck of a fight. In the meantime his dad was struggling with losing bait & tackle to what we think is a large grouper at the bottom of the wreck. He didn’t have nearly the success Jackson did. Also we were lucky to observe lots of Barracudas, more stingrays & another Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

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We are so fortunate in the Florida Keys to be surrounded by beautiful waters for great fishing & encountering of marine life. We were headed back to Key West through the Lakes telling fish stories of course. I noticed something unusual floating in the water. To my surprise & shock when I got closer to see, it was a Bald Eagle. Thankfully it was still alive, but definitely struggling with being soaking wet & unable to fly. I called Tom at Key West Wildlife Center for advice. I didn’t have the necessary equipment to grab the Bald Eagle safely for me & my clients. She was absolutely huge & still very powerful. I then called Florida Wildlife Commission for them to retrieve the bird out of the water. We stayed close to her to protect her from predators until they arrived. With a large net & a towel, they successfully brought her on the boat. Truly one of the most wonderful experiences I have had on the water. My clients said the same. We are extremely fortunate to have such a great organization like Key West Wildlife Center in our community. She was released the following day in good health.

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A Great Day on the Water!

November 12th, 2014

Luckily for a November day, the water was flat clam & crystal clear. I was chartered by a young couple, Alison & Ross, to explore the beauty of the backcountry. We had clear blue skies above us & clear blue water all around us, my favorite conditions for spending the day on the water.

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After discussing what they wanted to see and do, we decided that dolphin watching was a huge priority. Luckily I was able to find a handful of them frolicking around. Alison & Ross were really surprised at how much they played right next to the boat. This group was very playful & fun to watch. Sometimes when I encounter them, they are too busy traveling or eating to engage with the boat. Not this time, they were quite pleased with providing entertainment for us. Alison took 90 pictures in just a few minutes hoping to capture it on film.

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We cruised to a patch reef just off of Man Key to do some snorkeling. We were fortunate that the visibility was good considering most of the water from the gulf was murky from some storms. They snorkeled for sometime hand in hand. I was quite preoccupied watching the poker run boats to make sure they saw my snorkel flag. Some came too close for my comfort. Alison & Ross noticed me yelling & jumping up and down with my flag and thought it was quite funny.

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At last we found a white sand bar nearby & dropped anchor. They walked off hand in hand exploring the area. There was just 2 other boats some distance away. It is always very peaceful & relaxing to just sit and view nothing but endless water all around you. Mother nature at its best! Hearing only the sounds of birds & the tide coming in. When they returned to the boat we chatted & laughed about all sorts of stuff. The sun was beginning to set & we were at least 30 minutes away from Key West. So we began to head in. The colors were extraordinary. Alison commented that she couldn’t decide which way to look because it was all such a great view.

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We stopped just off of Sunset Key to catch the sun dropping in the water hoping to see the mysterious green flash, but to no avail. I have only seen it a handful of times in the 20 years that I have lived in Key West. After really enjoying their day & their trip to Key West, I imagine they will be back.

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Thanks guys for such a great day!

Key West Fishing & Snorkeling

September 3rd, 2014

I had a family visiting Key West interested in chartering Island to Island Charters for a day of snorkeling & fishing. We were able to successfully do both, and had a lot of fun on top of it! In Key West we are fortunate to have a lot of snorkeling options, from shipwrecks to reefs, etc.. We traveled to a patch reef in the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles west of Key West. On this day we were very lucky to experience clear, calm blue water with good visibility. They were able to see an assortment of marine life, from small colorful fish to a large Nurse Shark and & curious Barracuda.

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After all the activity of snorkeling we decided to relax on a nearby white sandbar located next to the mangrove island of Cottrell Key. One of my favorite places to spend time. Generally, depending on the tide, stingrays, tarpon, & sharks cross this flat in pursuit of food. It is neat to observe this in such shallow clear conditions.

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Next on our adventure was to try some fishing. In the backcountry sometimes your best bet for fishing is in the small channels that travel through the Key West flats. I found one I hoped would produce. Well today was a lucky day for that. We had managed to entice several good size grey snappers and 2 Nurse Sharks. We saw other large schools of fish swim by with no interest in our lines.

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After snorkeling, sandbars, and fishing we were running out of time so started our way back to Key West. We were interrupted by a pod of dolphins playing in the area. We marveled at their antics and watched them carry on in their travels. Never a dull moment with these creatures around. Our Key West dolphin watching is always a new experience, they continue to surprise & amaze myself and my customers. I am very grateful for their presence.

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We crossed the channel to Key West and traveled past Sunset Key before arriving to my marina. Thanks to a very cool family for making my “job” so much fun. I am so glad they decided to book a private boat charter for a family activity while on vacation in Key West.

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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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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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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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Key West family boat trip

March 21st, 2014

We started the day snorkeling a patch reef just a few miles off of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. They saw barracudas, tropical fish, stingrays and lots of colorful coral.

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We then took a boat cruise along the mangrove islands to a larger remote island with a white sand beach. There they sat on the beach and enjoyed a picnic lunch.

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After some combing the beach for shells we loaded up the boat to a nearby wreck for some wreck fishing. After not much success at the wreck, we traveled to do some backcountry channel fishing. First line in and first time fishing the daughter landed a beautiful Barjack!

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We were so fortunate to experience such a beautiful day on the water watching dolphins, light tackle fishing, snorkeling, island hopping, and relaxing on a remote secluded beach all just a few miles from Key West.

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.