I landed in the Florida Keys on a Sunday morning and promptly began the arduous task of taste-testing all available key lime pies.
This pie seems to be the main commodity here: a dessert made from the key limes endemic to the region, condensed milk, and a variety of crusts and toppings which each restaurant will argue provides the best or the most authentic combination. By the end of my trip, I had tasted 13 unique pies. This number seems small but that’s a lot of pies in five days! My favorite, with its tart citrus filling, graham-cracker bottom, and toasted meringue topping, came from the Angler & Ale on Duck’s Key. This was shocking to me for two reasons: 1) my favorite pie was not on Key West where I expected it to be and 2) Angler & Ale is a restaurant which is part of a resort. I’m always pleased when resorts offer an environment and food that I can truly enjoy, because I’m so not a resort person. Hawk’s Cay Resort was pleasantly surprising. It’s isolated enough from civilization for you to be able to see millions of stars at night, yet it has so many amenities available that it becomes a peaceful getaway for meditation and reflection.
I did things other than eat key lime pies as well! In Key West, I learned a lot about their old anti-pirate and ship-salvaging history. The wealthiest families of the keys used to make their money from collecting goods on the vessels which crashed on the reefs that surround the islands. Some say they used lights to lead ships to their doom but this is a highly contested theory. Many beautiful relics from the old Spanish and English ships are held at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. In an effort to get closer to the sea which shaped this region’s history, I visited the Florida Keys Aquarium and the Turtle Hospital. I also snorkeled and kayaked around the islands as much as I could. The next time I visit, I think I should learn how to scuba dive, so that I can see some of the old ships which remain at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
Another thing which I think is important to the Florida Keys is seafood, especially when fried. Although I ate delicious fish tacos from Amigos and tons of conch fritters at the No Name Pub, I especially liked eating raw fish from the Hogfish Bar & Grill as well as fresh Caribbean lobster from The Stoned Crab.
By Thursday night, I had filled my stomach with fish and salt water (I don’t have the best balance when kayaking, I’m afraid) and was ready to come home. I shall have to return to the Florida Keys one day if for no other reason than to find out if an even better key lime pie exists!
Thank you to Visit Florida for sponsoring this trip. As always, editorial control is maintained by Solo Traveler, and all opinions are our own.