Snorkeling and Lobster (Kind of)


What a great time for a getaway. Between work, studying and more work, the Queen and I were more than ready to jump in the car and head somewhere stress-free. What better place than the Florida Keys? Or more specifically, Key West for the 2015 Lobsterfest.

We visited last year and had an absolute ball. You can read about last year’s trip here.



Last year we hit Pennekamp and did a snorkel trip prior to heading off for KW to fill our bellies. This year, we decided to stay a bit closer to KW, as the drive back to the hotel in the Upper Keys – after very hot weather and lobster – was brutal.

We stayed in Marathon this time (which is a wonderful area) and stopped by a quaint little spot known as Sombrero Beach.



Sombrero Beach is a smallish spot off the beaten path with a couple of rocky ledges that are good for snorkeling and clear water for swimming.


With all the rain Florida has gotten this year, I was sure the water would not be as clear and I was correct. However, murky for the Keys means you only get to see 15-20 feet in front of you as opposed to 50 feet. ;)

We nestled in under a big palm tree and hit the water for a couple of hours. Lots of fish and too many sea urchins to count, and quite a few ended up in the ol shell bag. I found this killer cone as well. He was occupied so he went back into the water. But dang! Look at the color of that shell! I thought it was mucky at first, but as I scraped I noticed that the color WAS the actual color. A camo cone shell. Definitely a first!



After swimming and snorkeling for a while, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower and nap and then enjoyed a nice dinner at the Island Fish Company…we enjoyed a wonderful view.


After dinner, we fed some parrot fish and relaxed in preparation for our big day in Key West.


The next morning, we got up, grabbed a bite of breakfast and headed to one of our favorite beaches anywhere – Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West.


It is a stunning beach with crystal clear, warm water. We visited here two years ago as a Florida Beaches Royalty Tour spot and were itching to come back. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it back last year, but the wait was worth it.


There has been a considerable change to the beach on the West side, as the formerly rocky shoreline has been replaced by soft, white sand. So what did I do? I went North and tore my feet up trying to snorkel what? The rocks. I snorkeled from about that ship almost all the way up to the point. However, a couple of barracuda I encountered along the way forced me out of the water. So I climbed out, strapped on the GoPro and we hit the water.

In the first pic on the page, you can see the Queen conch we found after about 2 minutes in the water. It’s a no-take park at FZ (and the shell was occupied) so back in the water it went. But a cool way to start off the snorkel.


So many fish to see in the water….and many of them too fast to get snapped on cam. Twice I was buzzed by large fish. Once by a HUGE jack and the other, a hogfish – which was very cool, but scared the crap outta me.

Like, I said. I tried to snap the hogfish (above), but he was just too dang fast. You can make him out if you look closely.

Notice anything in the bottom of the picture above?

Yep, one of these guys:


That’s a Caribbean Reef Squid.

I swam up on a little squad of these guys. They all took off except this one. He thought my GoPro was interesting, and he stopped to pose for a few shots. What a beautiful and amazing creature.

We hung out at Fort Zach for a couple of hours, showered off and made our way over to Duval Street for the festivities.


Boy, was it HOT.

Hot hot hot.

So hot, I needed to buy a hat before walking the main drag.



When it’s that hot, all we wanted to do was have a cold drink. But we came there for lobster.


So it was time to find some lobster.

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After walking the main drag, I settled on a Maine Lobster Roll…just like last year.



I was so thirsty that the Coors Light went down in two gulps.


Queenie got herself a Lobster Slider. Well, ok I had one too.


and we washed em down with a couple of SnoCones.

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We hung out for a little while longer until the heat was just too much. Good thing we packed up some cold drinks in a cooler.

We had a ball as we expected. There is just something about the Keys that screams “MOVE HERE BRO”.

Who knows? Maybe some day. Until then, we’ll just hafta keep coming back.


We sure don’t mind that.

A Day in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea


Once a year, the Queen sets up a special weekend for me for my birthday. She books a hotel room for a weekend in Miami, where we cram in as much fun, South Beach, shopping, sushi, pizza and donuts as we can. This particular week happened to have my birthday and Father’s Day fall close to each other, so it was a double dose of what I just mentioned above. Thank you to my Queen for being so sweet. Best wife ever.

This time we decided that instead of fighting the weekend traffic to get to South Beach, we’d see if there was a public beach closer and try that….and we happened to stumble upon this cool little beach/town called “Lauderdale-By-The-Sea” which was only 15 miles from our hotel in Sunrise.


Now to those in the know, it’s a quaint little quiet hamlet nestled in between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. It’s well known to those on the East coast. But to those who aren’t local, it’s a blink and miss it kinda place. It has a real Fort Myers Beach feel to it with many many restaurants and shops lining both sides of the street.

It’s also known for a living coral reef just 100 yards from shore – which we didn’t find out about until after we left. :(

The red arrows show where the first and second reef are located.


We GPS’d a restaurant on the beach and made our way a few miles from our hotel to a nice sized parking lot right across the street from the beach. Plenty of parking spots were available and it’s $1.75 per hour. We dropped a $10 in the meter and made our way over.


The sand is soft and brown, and the water – well, it’s beautiful and clear.


I didn’t waste much time getting in the water either. It was sparkling and warm with visibility over 20 feet. I didn’t find any shells in the deeper waters, so I stayed close to shore and searched for minis in the surf ridges with my mask and snorkel, with the Queen staying close by doing her own shelling.

If you’re visiting the East coast beaches and are afraid to get into the water, searching for minis is great. Strap on your snorkel and mask and stay in the shallows, searching the ridges. You’ll find so many it will make your head spin.


Like bubbles, nerites and marginellas.


and murexes, worms and dwarf olives.


…some baby’s ears and gaudys.


and yes, you will find cones. I wasn’t even searching for Alphies and this guy just ended up in the sand in front of me.


you’ll also find a boat load of shells that you may not even be able to identify!


Like this one above. I’d never seen one of these before. Thanks to Karen V over on Facebook, it’s a Pyramidella dolobrata. Otherwise known as a Ringed Pyramid Shell. Pretty daggone cool.

You’ll also find amazing pieces of coral (which are still soaking in bleach as I type this).



This really is a beautiful and quiet beach. It wasn’t packed at all, even as time passed. We soaked in plenty of sun (and got a little red in the process) and had a wonderful time together.


As I mentioned, the coral reef of located just South of the pier, about 100 yards out. I’m kickin myself for not knowing this before hand. However, the next time we visit (and there will be a next time), we’re gonna be out there.

Put this one on your “must visit beach” list. You will not regret it.


and a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.