Key West History & Culture
Mystery shrouds Key West’s origins. There are accounts of peculiar bone piles, tales of ship salvagers and pirates (and the accompanying ghosts), claims made by several countries, and a 1982 attempt to secede from the U.S. and form the Conch Republic. While Key West’s popular history is full of debauchery, it’s also rich in artistry, with famous novelists from Ernest Hemingway to Tennessee Williams to Judy Blume calling it home. Key West hosts bi-weekly festivals (what might more accurately be called island-wide parties), as well as literary conventions, fishing tournaments, footraces, and film festivals. However, most recreation happens on the water — in fishing boats, kayaks, and paddleboards — or underneath it, where the snorkeling and scuba diving action ranks among the world’s best.