The Florida Keys are sunny and warm all year round. With over 800 islands, there is something for every sunseeker to enjoy. No trip to the Keys is complete without spending a good few days in Key West – a tiny tropical oasis where the best boat tours and charters in Florida can be experienced. The official motto here is “One Human Family” and this mantra for peace, tolerance and diversity reverberates throughout the community.
Jane Zegar, who runs the company Salty Soul Charters, believes the tight-knit family of locals is what makes this island so unique: “There is a huge sense of community and closeness in Key West. We all know each other”. Even travelers who stop by for a short stay are welcomed into town with open arms. This is the main reason why Key West attracts around a million visitors annually. The other factor (of course) is the natural beauty on offer.
Blessed with stunning beaches, epic sandbars, winding mangroves and gorgeous sunsets – Key West is a nature lover’s dream. The best way to explore the area and discover hidden gems off the beaten path is to book a private boat tour with Salty Soul Charters. They have a range of activities like snorkeling, dolphin watching and sandbars that you can add to your trip. Each tour takes you to secret spots that only a small boat can navigate.
The boat provided by Salty Soul Charters is the 2102 NauticStar Legacy. It can host up to seven people (including the captain) and so it’s the perfect option for couples, families or friends. You can even request Sunny, the first mate canine, to jump onboard with your group. Sunny is always a hit. Beyond that the boat is equipped with comfortable cushioned seats, plenty of space and storage, bow and stern shade, and rod holders for fishing.
Captain Jane runs three types of boat tours that you can select from: full day charter, half day charter or sunset cruise. Each charter differs in length and can be tailored to suit your preferences. You might want to snorkel the barrier reef, visit the “Dolphin Playground”, throw a fishing line overboard, sandbar hop or explore lush mangroves. Whatever your interests, Salty Soul Charters can deliver a dream experience just right for you.
Best Boat Tours & Charters in Key West
1. Full Day Charter with Salty Soul Charters (6 Hours)
Nothing competes with a full day charter in Key West. Six hours gives you plenty of time to experience as many activities as you would like. Enjoy the company and expert navigation of Captain Jane as she takes you from one beautiful destination to the next. There is no pressure or rush – this day is all about what you find fun and comfortable. Dog lovers can bring their pup onboard or request the first mate Sunny to join the trip.
2. Half Day Charter with Salty Soul Charters (4 Hours)
This is the most popular tour with Salty Soul Charters and for good reason. With a timeframe of four hours your group can select up to three activities that will make for a thrilling morning or afternoon. Get in touch with Jane for recommendations or browse through the list of activities to pick a cool mix of experiences. Imagine snorkeling in clear waters at the beginning and finishing with a mangrove cruise. Anything is possible on this trip.
3. Sunset Cruise with Salty Soul Charters (2 Hours)
Key West is famous for its sunsets. While most people head to Mallory Square for golden hour, being out on the water takes sunset to a new level. This two hour cruise with Salty Soul Charters commences an hour or so before sunset and you will head to the best spot to soak in an epic dusk setting. Bring beers or wine to chuck in the cooler, and sit back and relax as you sip a beverage and watch the sky transform into vibrant colors.
Activities on Offer with Salty Soul Charters
Before booking you should consider which activities you would like. Some people tell Jane exactly what they want, while others say: “We trust you, just show us the best you have to offer”. Every trip is different because everyone’s interests are different. Wish to see dolphins? How about mangroves? Want to catch a fish? Once Jane asks a few questions, she can hit the nail on the head to create the perfect tour. Here are the activities:
- Eco-Tours: Bird watching, marine life viewing and mangrove trees are what’s in store for this part of the boat charter. Many of these natural areas surrounding Key West are protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. A portion of these trips will be donated to Reef Relief.
- Sand Bars: There are endless sandbars to explore around Key West and they are all fun stops that the whole family can enjoy. Soak up the sun, swim in turquoise waters and sink your toes into the whitest sand on earth. Enjoy a drink onboard as you hop from one sandbar to another.
- Snorkeling: The barrier reef near Key West is only a 20-minute boat ride away and it offers an epic underwater world of sea life. Fish, coral and sponges can be seen by donning your gear and plunging underwater. Instructions will be given by the captain for those new to snorkeling.
- Sunset Cruises: Captain Jane Zegar leads an amazing sunset cruise for two hours where guests get a guided tour of the harbors and wider area. Witness a spectacular sunset in one of the best places near Key West and sip beverages of your choice along the way. Sit back and enjoy the views.
- Dolphin Watching: Dolphins can appear anywhere and at anytime on a boat tour with Salty Soul Charters but there is one spot called the “Dolphin Playground” where dolphin sightings are pretty much guaranteed. Seeing these playful creatures frolic around in the water is pure joy.
- Light Tackle Fun Fishing: Fishing enthusiasts will have a blast with Captain Jane as she leads you to bottom fish patch reefs where all kinds of fish nibble away. Expect to catch fish like snapper, yellow jack and grouper (among other species). Rods and equipment are provided for this activity.
Why Book Salty Soul Charters?
The captain can make or break a good boat tour, so having the lovable personality of Captain Jane onboard makes all the difference. She has extensive boating knowledge and knows the Key West region like the back of her hand. Jane has years of experience and has listened to what people have envisioned and made that vision a reality. You can read more about her background and charters below. For sure you will love her company.
After working on the water for nine years, for multiple different companies, running multiple types of tours from fishing, eco-tours, kayaking, snorkeling, whale watching, glacier tours and dolphin watching – I had a vision to pull all my knowledge together and create my very own do it all trip. The original vision was to pull together my knowledge from working on the water, plus an eagerness to have a platform to share my life experiences with small groups of people in a more intimate setting.
I have traveled all over the world, spent months volunteering for hurricane disaster relief, experienced a lot of love and loss, lived in many places and am very well rounded with many interests (gardening, cooking, animals, sports, green living, the ocean, family, self care, yoga, etc). So I can find common ground with almost anyone. I enjoy sharing my passion for Key West, the ocean and our ecosystem, and how we can all do our part to take care of Mother Earth.
I hesitate to claim I have something unique that no one else has, because I work so closely with my colleagues and we are a team and route for each other and send each other charters. We all want everyone to be successful and all help each other out in that endeavor. It’s magical really. At Salty Soul Charters we have top of the line equipment, the boat is very well maintained and always kept very clean and organized. No passenger is just a number.
I will be in contact prior to the trip to have a discussion of what the group wants to do and customize the trip to their specific interests. For example, we may spend a lot of time snorkeling in multiple locations for two hours and then fish for one hour and spend 30 minutes at the sandbar. Or spend a lot of time fishing and then go relax at the sandbar with whatever time is leftover. We go with the flow and create on the fly sometimes to cater to the clients.
Final Tips for your Trip to Key West
Key West is unique. There is so much history here and life is laidback and happy. But with such a seductive vibe things can get booked quickly. Make sure you plan ahead as lots of the excursions (including the charters with Salty Soul Charters), restaurants and accommodation get fully reserved. If you are looking for a place to stay, we recommend finding a cute B&B or small inn that is within walking distance of everything downtown.
Also, rent bikes when exploring on land. There are some awesome places to check out like Ernest Hemingway’s House, the Key West Lighthouse, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, the Key West Shipwreck Museum, rum distilleries and many other cool spots. Finally, make sure you get on the water in some fashion when visiting Key West. Give Jane a bell and she will create a magical charter that your friends and family will love.