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Awesome Animal Adventures Near Key West

a flamingo standing in front of a flower garden

The Florida Keys are home to some of the most incredible fish and wildlife in the US. Discover the Florida Straits Barrier Reef, where you’ll find colorful subtropical fish and dazzling coral formations, as well as state and national parks packed with rare and unique birds. There is so much incredible wildlife under the water and in the sky, it’s tough to know where to go and what to see. We’ve compiled a list of the top places to see wildlife in Key West to help you plan your trip.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located about 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is an incredible destination to see wildlife. Transportation can be a bit tricky as Dry Tortugas is only accessible by ferry, private boat charter, or seaplane. Nevertheless, its picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs, marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequents the area make it an absolute must-go destination if you want to see Florida Keys wildlife. Don’t forget to bring some snorkeling gear!

underwater view of a coral

Snorkeling Off Key West

Thanks to numerous places to explore around the island, no two Key West snorkeling tours are the same. From shallow areas around mangrove islands teeming with crabs and starfish to beautiful offshore reefs and shipwrecks filled with colorful subtropical fish, many of Key West’s best snorkeling spots are only accessible by boat. Booking a guided snorkel tour is a great way to get access to the hidden gems and best snorkeling spots near Key West.

a palm tree sitting next to a body of water

Bahia Honda State Park

With its iconic Florida Keys scenery, sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and magnificent sunsets, Bahia Honda State park is known for the variety of wading birds that call the park home. Hike the Old Bahia Honda Bridge Trail and take in the view from the highest panoramic viewing point in the Florida Keys, the abandoned US 1 bridge. This is the perfect spot to watch for wading flamingo, great blue heron, and white ibis.

Vandenberg Wreck

Scuba Diving Near Key West

The reefs off the coast of Key West are home to an abundance of marine life including coral, barracuda, turtles, blue tang, and butterfly fish. If you want to learn to scuba dive to access the magical world hiding under the waves of Key West, check out a no-certification required scuba course. Of course, if you are PADI-certified there are even more incredible diving opportunities like the Vandenberg Wreck, an intentionally sunken ship that is the largest man-made reef in the world.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Stroll through the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and experience an impressive collection of flowering plants, cascading waterfalls and trees that set the stage for the dazzling butterflies. Explore this magical world as around 60 different species of butterfly and a variety of colorful birds flutter around you.

Wait, What’s the Deal with the Chickens?

When talking about Key West’s wildlife, it’s impossible to avoid the elephant in the room — the chickens. When walking the streets of Key West, many visitors wonder: why are there so many roosters in Key West? The answer: The chickens are descendants of jungle fowl originally found throughout the Caribbean. Long before the railroads or bridges came, they were an essential means to feed the early inhabitants of Key West. Cockfighting was also a popular pastime on the island until it was outlawed in the 1970s. As Key West became connected to the mainland and cockfighting was outlawed, many chickens and roosters were released onto the streets where their descendants roam today.

What are You Waiting for?!

Key West, Florida is an animal lover’s paradise with tons of options for unique and cool experiences with local wildlife. No matter what you do in the Florida Keys, you’ll never be too far from the beautiful wildlife that calls these islands their home. Explore even more fun things to do in the Florida Keys below and plan your trip today!