- Are you interested in seeing outstanding theatrical productions, eating all you can eat at a late-night pirate buffet, or taking a dip in the crystal blue waters of a secluded private Bahamian island?
If you answered “Yes” to two or more of the above, stop wondering – a Disney cruise is for you. This review, though, isn’t a critique of the Disney Cruise Line; this is for those lucky Donald Ducks who already know they’re going on a Disney Cruise, but want to know where they can have some exciting but inexpensive water fun at each of the ports of call on the Disney Magic’s Western Caribbean itinerary.
Somewhere south of Miami and north of Cuba lays the eclectically tropical Key West. Known locally as the “Conch Republic,” this highly spirited island has a flavor all its own, and has inspired the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Ernest Hemingway; once you’re here, it’s easy to see why. You have a lot of options at Key West, from visiting Mel Fisher’s treasure museum to getting a drink and a burger at the famed Sloppy Joe’s or Hog’s Breath. If you’re like me, however, those indulgences are best appreciated after a good snorkel at Fort Zachary Taylor.
Constructed in the mid-eighteen hundreds, Fort Zachary Taylor figured prominently in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Today, the Fort makes up an 87-acre park brimming with nature trails and bike paths. Right off the beach, however, is an underwater paradise filled with parrot fish and coral. What are you waiting for? Dive in!
Upon disembarking the boat, catch a cab for a short ride to the Fort, which lies at the Southern end of, aptly-named, Southard Street. Currently, the admittance fee is $6 for two people, and fifty cents for each additional person. This is a bargain for a great little snorkel spot located right on one of Key West’s very few beaches.Once there, take some time to explore the fort, and then head to the beach. Just off the shore are a few rocky breakwaters. These are the areas where tropical critters congregate. You can now rent snorkel equipment here – but I advise buying your mask, snorkel, and fins before you leave, thus having them at your disposal for all your ports of call. A note of caution; I’ve snorkeled here when the water has gotten pretty swift, flowing perpendicular to the shore, so keep an eye on young ones and inexperienced swimmers if the conditions call for it. Also, pack a pair of underwater shoes for all in your party, as the bottom is rocky.