Key West



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Suitability
Key West
Being a coral island, Key West is not blessed with terrific natural beaches. Most are small, man-made affairs, the nicest of which is Smathers on the S side of the island. Many belong to the larger hotels. Old Key West Town is alive with neon signs and shops, some tacky, selling anything made of shell, some selling designer items and priced accordingly. Greenpeace shop; souvenirs; jewellery; brand-name clothes; swim and water-sports gear; cigars. Numerous (sometimes overpriced) T-shirt retailers. Local Key West sandals are a good buy. There is a string of large supermarkets, video shops and the likes of K-Mart on the bayside main road. During the daytime this is a favourite sailing and water-sports destination, with fishing, snorkelling and diving. There are glass-bottomed boat trips. The Historic Whitehouse Street gives us Hemingway's home (a must-see, filled with his old furniture, books and several generations of 6-toed cats). There is sightseeing tours on the Conch Train Tour and Old Town Trolley. Walking tours of the island are popular. For an overview, climb the 100 steps to the top of the Lighthouse Museum. The Old Key West City cemetery is a favourite excursion: some of the epitaphs are a hoot. The nightlife here offers a plethora of bars all competing for business, with many discount cards and offers; bars stay open until the small hours. There are a few nightclubs. The focus in the evening is the sunset celebration at Mallory Square, which buzzes with street performers and stalls. Theatre and cinema. For food there is a huge range. Cuban cafeterias, where one downs a couple of buccis (thimble-sized cups of espresso) along with a Cuban pork and cheese sandwich. Focus on seafood and grills, with waterfront eateries known for clams and steamed shrimp. Gourmet delights. Sushi, Thai and Chinese food. A la carte dining, often in the larger hotels. Exclusive a la carte restaurant on island reached by free boat. If all these choices fail to appeal, there's always fast food.