We were lucky enough to fly into KW for 3 nights with SWA. I love the airline, and I love that they fly 737s into Key West! Our flights in both directions were on time, convenient flight times, and free. I loved deplaning onto the tarmac! As soon as the sea breeze and sunshine hit my face, I knew we were in the right place. Did I mention that it had been snowing when we left home?
This was my third trip to KW.
Weather: perfect. 77 and sunny. I was under an umbrella because I am a heat/sun wimp.
My only complaint: It was very windy for the duration of our trip, and we couldn't get out to the reef. Also, the water clarity was not good for shore snorkeling. On the flip side, now we need to plan another trip to remedy this!
We took the taxi to Casa Marina. It was exactly as described by other posters. Stunning waterfront property, excellent service, paper-thin walls and bare-essential furnishings. The manager we spoke with was very responsive to our issues. Overall, we were happy. The view from our room was breathtaking.
We met our friends at the bar, and enjoyed the first, and best, drink of our trip. For me, it was a Key Lime Colada. Then we headed to Salute for some lunch. The Yellow Tailed Snapper was excellent. The view was priceless. We then went back to the hotel for some shore snorkeling and relaxing in the sun (or under an umbrella). Later that day, we made our way to the Sunset Key Ferry for our 5:15 reservation at Latitudes. Mr. Mojito wasn't around, so we bought some mojitos at another cart. Couldn't bring them on the ferry, so we enjoyed them hastily, and got on the boat! Latitudes was wonderful. The food and service were excellent. We had requested a table on the beach, but the wind direction made this undesirable, so we ended up inside (which was great, it was open air and beautiful). Next time, I would request a table on the patio in my reservation. The waygu beef skirt steak was the best entree, in my opinion. I also enjoyed the coconut crusted grouper, but it really was hard to compare with the snapper that I had earlier. Spoiled within six hours of arrival!
The ferry back and wandering on and off Duval is a bit of a blur. I can say that we heard a fantastic band at the Lazy Gecko (Tim&Jim?) and ended our night at about 10:30.
The next day, the boys had an early reservation for a fishing charter. The girls were supposed to go snorkeling, but no boats were going out to the reef due to wind conditions. We had breakfast at the Southernmost Cafe instead, and then headed back to the hammocks at the Casa and read our books, while meandering in and out of sleep. The boys came back at about 1:00, catch in hand, and were famished, so we put the fish on ice and went back to the Southernmost Cafe (why not?) for lunch. The nachos with pulled pork, fish tacos, and key lime pie (with a chocolate crust) were all yummy. The boys were still a bit seasick (very rough waters), and we were worried about our evening plans. After a short siesta, they rallied, and we took a cab with their catch to Dante's. For $8/pp, they prepared the Mahi Mahi blackened, grilled, and breaded, with sides of our choice, all served family-style. Awesome meal. Definitely the best Mahi Mahi I've ever tasted. The service at Dante's was excellent, too. From there, we headed to the SWB for some painkillers. The band was just ok, so we moved on and eventually landed at Sloppy Joe's. A band from Philly was playing (Lima Bean Riot) and they were awesome. Should have stayed there, but went to Willy T's (band not too great) and Fat Tuesdays (needed a rest room), and found ourselves back at Sloppy Joe's for the duration. A very nice cabby (Jean Pierre) helped us find food at 3am at Mr. Zs. and brought us back safely to the Casa.
The next morning we slept in, and awoke to another spectacular day. We decided to rent bikes for the duration of our trip, and headed over to Blue Heaven. There, we were greeted by a Reggae Band and a wonderful breakfast. Loved it. Brought home a slice of Key Lime Pie for later. The meringue deflated from the heat on our way home, but it was still top notch. Did a bit of shopping for the poor suckers we left at home. Then beachside with pina coladas for the duration. Hours and hours of ahhhh.... Then we watched the sunset from the Casa's Pier and wandered over to Louie's Backyard for our best meal of the trip. The service, setting, and food were unmatched. Holy Moly good. We headed to the Green Parrot for some music, but they were having technical difficulties, so we called it a night at 10:30.
The next morning, we biked over to the Cuban Coffee Queen for some grub and coffee. It was really delicious, but bitter-sweet in the shadow of our impending departure. Wandered over to Kermit's but, alas, we did not want any Key Lime Pie at that moment. However, the dog is now enjoying her key lime dog biscuits in New York, so all is not lost. Then we biked over to Fort Zach's beach for some shore snorkeling (not great visibility, but managed to spot a barracuda), and biked back to the hotel for check-out. Our flight out was at 2:10, and as others have noted, EYW is a cool little airport. Walking out on the tarmac did not bring the initial giddiness of our arrival. It had quite the opposite effect.
Overall, the trip was even better than we had imagined. Thank you for all of your help and advice on the forum!