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Hop Aboard The Key West Express!

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.55.31 AMOne of the best excursions in Southwest Florida is the high-speed ferry to Key West, the famous Key West Express.

Operating just shy of 20 years, the boat is a favorite for locals and residents north of us who want to experience the excitement of Key West but not the drag of traffic on US1. While the drive is lovely—in spots—there is nothing like pocketing your keys, putting your feet up and skimming across the wide-open waters of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a delightful experience offered from our own backyard. Rather than horns honking, dolphins and spectacular sunsets greet travelers, especially this time of year.

The high-powered catamaran gets you to one of Florida’s most famous and historic islands in about 3 and a half hours. While many vacationers take day trips, unless you have a tight scheduleScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.07.38 PM there really is no need to rush back. Instead, opt to stay overnight in order to get the FULL Key West experience.

The comfortable seating on the multi level boat is first come first serve and includes climate controlled options as well as breezy sun decks.

Some seats recline for relaxation and views of the flat screen TV’s, there are tables for dining, playing games or knocking out any dreaded ‘work’ before docking. Speaking of dining, don’t worry about packing your own snacks, the galley serves up both hot and cold treats.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.07.10 PMWhile the galley is popular, the bar is where the action is. BYOB is permitted but the bar has you covered with liquor, beer and wine to get the party started or keep it going on your return.

Catch the Keys bound catamaran at 8:30am, from either Salty Sam’s Marina on Fort Myers Beach or Rose Marina on Marco Island. The return trips leave Key West at 5pm for Marco and 6pm for Fort Myers.

While the Fort Myers boat runs every day, all year long, weather permitting, until just recently the Marco Island ferry was seasonal; operation halted in the traditionally slower summer months.

Fortunately, beginning this month (May) excursions continue from Marco on Tuesday and Wednesday. They pick up again at the end of June and run through the first week of August.

For all of the details on schedules, reservations and fares, visit www. keywestexpress.net. Here you may also find discounts and specials for your journey.

One of the best parts of traveling isn’t just the destination; it’s getting there, and the Key West Express delivers. Whether you are looking to unwind and unplug or party, you will find the appropriated space to do it on these boats before experiencing the so-called “Conch Republic” in all of its glory. Bon Voyage!Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 12.07.19 PM