I decided to take a jet ski tour of Key West after arriving at Casa Marina for my sister's wedding after seeing how affordable the rate for the two hour tour was. The 2 hour trip was only $20 more than an hour rental and I figured that at the very least, the guide would be able to keep us out of shallow areas that only seasoned boaters in the area would be able to recognize. This certainly turned out to be the case as our guide Matt made sure we stayed in single file for some of the shallower areas. Heck, we even got to see a pleasure boat beached on a sandbar that probably wasn't going to get out until the tide came back in (hopefully they had a cooler full of beer)
Anyway, Matt made the trip really fun, even taking some time to lightly rib me for being too loud (I was really hungover from the bridal party festivities the night before and wasn't saying a darn thing). His attitude towards making sure we were having a good time was fantastic as he kept engaging us to make sure everything was going well. At every stop, Matt told us a little bit about the history of the Island and gave us an insight into what the locals take for granted.
As far as the pace of the tour went, I was a bit afraid that since it was a tour, we would be going relatively slow (i.e. - 25mph) but it turned out that we were doing about 40mph (give or take depending on the level of comfort of the people you are following). Honestly, it seemed like you could pace yourself accordingly as if you got behind, Matt would slow down a little bit so we could regroup, and also since it was a line of wave runners, it was very easy to see where we needed to go. I would have liked to go faster, but we did get that opportunity when we made it into a secluded bay and had a few minutes to go nuts.
The tour itself was nice. You get a chance to see where an oceanographic research vessel is docked, you can see cruise ships coming in and out, you get to see a few naval bases and forts, an area of moored boats that can best be described as a trailer park in key west, a lot of beautiful homes and resorts, a lot of wildlife from fish to birds, sea turtles, and dolphins. You will probably want to bring a small camera, but make sure you have a waterproof case for it as the storage compartments in jet skis are not know for there water resistance. If you do have electronics like a camera or a phone, tell your tour guide and they will likely have a case to store it in for you on the tour. If you really want to have a great record of your trip, get yourself a GoPro and record your entire trip. I would have done this if I could have remembered to get it out of my bag before going.
One point of contention, though, is that this is a jet ski tour and jet skis are meant to be fast paced and nimble. Because of this, the height of the waves will certainly dictate your level of comfort on the tour. I got lucky and had one foot waves at best but if the waves are 2 to 3 feet, you can bet it's going to be bumpy and you can either stay in your guide's wake or take the tour at a time of day when the winds are low.
If you are looking for a nice slow paced tour, you might want to consider one of the many boat tours, but if you want to see things the boats can't make it to, or you want a nice brisk pace, then Barefoot Billy's tour is absolutely the kind of tour you should go on.
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