Historic Seaport, Key West
When we lived in Key West in the 60s, this marina was full of shrimp boats and this was also where the turtle kraals were. The turtle kraals had a tower so that someone could get up high and see how many turtles were there. Except for that, it wasn't really a tourist destination.
When we were down in Key West on our boat on a mooring in 2000, if we wanted to go into town, we would dinghy over to the original harbor (now called the Historic Seaport) where we could tie up to the dinghy dock. We used the turtle kraal tower as a landmark. We would go to the harbormaster and pay the fee and tape the ticket to the seat of the dinghy and then we could go into town to the PO or the hardware store or to have a meal at a restaurant. We would sometimes walk along the waterfront.
The next time we really visited the Historic Seaport was in 2011 when we had lunch at the Turtle Kraal Restaurant and visited the museum. The turtle kraal tower was gone.
One of the simple things that I though was really fun was feeding the very hungry fish at Schooner Wharf. In fact, I think children would really enjoy this too. Our waitress at the Schooner Wharf Bar told us to save the shrimp shells, or other left overs from our meal to feed the fish from the pier!! We were a little bit skeptical, but the minute you stand on the edge of the pier, dozens of huge fish come close to the surface waiting to catch whatever food you give them!! We ran out of food quickly but there were a few other people with children doing the same thing. Sometimes simple pleasures are the best. I sure wish I had gotten a picture of this because, at the time, I'd never seen anything like it----well, maybe feeding time at "Sting Ray City" at "Grand Cayman Island."
While tourism currently is the main industry in Key West, it hasn't always been the case. Back in the early 19th century, fishing and sea-related activities, including the very lucrative business of salvaging shipwrecks, were at the basis of the town's economy and most of this activity took place in the area now called Historic Seaport. Today, it remains the place to go if you're looking for a day cruise or if you wish to charter a fishing boat, but the area now has much more to offer visitors thanks to the addition of a boardwalk and several shops and restaurants. It gets especially crowded towards the end of the day as people drop by for happy hour or an early dinner and a chance to watch a beautiful sunset. It makes for a different atmosphere from Duval Street, one that is perhaps slightly less rowdy but still very lively.
The Key West Historic Seaport lies on the north side of the island a few blocks from Duval Street, and it offers a less crowded collection of tourist amenities than Duval Street. Here you can find charter boats for hire, the Key West ferries, bicycle rentals, numerous shops, restaurants, and bars, and more.
We stayed in this area one of our nights in Key West and were happy to discover this area was quieter, particularly at night, than Duval Street. Probably the biggest difference was no loud drunks in the street at 2 or 3 am. Parking here is tough, but we enjoyed dinner at BO's Fish Wagon, and we had drinks at Schooner's Bar. We also enjoyed walking among the boats at the marina, and feeding the numerous fish along the docks.
We loved feeding the fish from the dock of the historic seaport area. There are little machines there where you get a handfull of feed for coins. Its amazing the amount of fish that appear from nowhere....obviously we weren't the first people to feed them . Its great fun though!
I hate to admit we thought we'd seen this but the next day realized we hadn't walked along the seafront far enough. This area starts with the wooden boardwalk . Its a lovely spot to relax with a cold drink and watch the activity on the dockside or have a meal .
This is a great section to hang out in for an afternoon. There are plenty of restraunts/bars such as Turtle Kraals, Half Shell raw Bar, BO's Fish Wagon, and more. There are also a ton of boat companies to choose from to sign up for snorkling, dolphin watching, diving, glassbottom boats, etc.
You will see lots of fish in the area, there are little fish food pellets available for 25 cents. When you throw these in the fish come running (errr uh swimming)!
Turtle Kraals also has a small turtle museum. They have a large turtle in a tank.
Historic Seaport at Key West Bight, from Greene to Grinnell streets at the north end of the island. Along a half-mile harbor walk are shops, restaurants, bars and a 156-slip working marina that is home to tall ships, ferries and catamarans which provide dive, snorkel and sunset cruises.
Visitors can stroll along a wooden Harbor Walk lined with charter boats and restaurants.
It is fun to watch the fishing boats returning and see what they caught. I admire the boats at this harbor, they are beautiful.
BO's Fish Wagon (restaurant & bar - live music Fridays), Turtle Kraals (Historic Restaurant & Bar), Conch Republic Seafood Company, The Crab Shack, Half Shell Raw Bar, Key West Ice Cream Factory,
Key West Bait & Tackle (Bait Shop & Pub), Harborwalk Shops @ Lazy Way (Hammocks, Arts, Crafts, & Clothing), Local Color (Clothing, Accessories & Jewelry), Mac's Sea Garden (Shells, Tropical Gifts) and more.