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Key West – Glass Bottomed Boat Tour
While on a recent visit to the Florida Keys my wife and I took the opportunity to experience two ‘glass bottomed’ boat tours.
The first excursion we booked was in Key West itself and on this occasion we opted for a trip on a twin-hulled boat, advertised as visiting the Coral Reef. Unfortunately, once we had boarded there was an announcement that, due to heavy seas on the Atlantic side, the trip would instead be visiting the ‘Coral Garden’, which lies in shallower water on the Gulf Coast. We were given the option of leaving the boat and receiving a full refund, but opted to stay aboard, as we could not be sure of getting a further opportunity of visiting a Coral Reef on this holiday.
As we left the quayside we soon passed (on our starboard side) the island known as Sunset Key. This small island, just 27 acres in total, is made up part privately owned residences and part hotel / guest cottages.
On the trip out to the Coral Garden the staff informed us of the types of corals we would see and of the fish we may see. The highlight of the outward leg however was a long line of boats of various sizes heading in the opposite direction to us. The captain told us that the boats were using a channel to pass Key West and round the end of the Keys, thus avoiding a much longer journey.
On reaching the garden, the boat slowed to ‘drifting’ pace and we did get to see a variety of coral, but unfortunately not a lot of fish or other sea creatures. The best views were to be obtained by sitting down on the lower deck floor (which was carpeted) with our legs dangling above the viewing windows, which formed part of the ships hull. I found however that looking through angled ‘windows’ in the bottom of the hull slightly distorted the view of the underwater wildlife. It soon became apparent that, as the boat passed over fish or coral, objects would move out of one window frame but they would not appear immediately in the adjacent window, due to the V-shaped design.
After about fifteen to twenty minutes over the Coral Garden the boat headed back to Key West, this time passing to the other side of Sunset Key, where we were informed, the houses with a Key West view started around the $3. 5million mark, while those on the seaward side were priced from about $6. 5million.
Overall, whilst the trip was pleasant and passed a couple of hours away, we left feeling that given the opportunity and good weather we would like to visit the eastern reef for perhaps a more dramatic experience next time.
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