Category Archives: Key West History

What is a Key West Conch?

The use of the term “conch” can be confusing for visitors of Key West because on the island, it’s not just a fritter on your plate or queen beneath the sea… it’s a person, too. Allow us to explain.

A conch is a large sea snail that lives in the depths of Caribbean waters. In the Florida Keys, the more common and identifiable species of sea snail is the queen conch. Snorkelers and divers will frequently spot these beautiful creatures situated on the ocean floor. The outer shell of a queen conch is white and tan, and often covered in algae. If you flip it over, you’ll see a beautiful combination of bright pinks and whites.

Now let’s head to the dinner table, where this sea slug turns into a deliciously fried fritter that is a favorite of both locals and visitors. If done a certain way, the meat of a conch can be removed without damaging its magnificent shell. Once the meat has been extracted, it can prepared a few different ways, not just fried. Many enjoy it in chowder, ceviche or sushi style. However, one thing remains consistent….when it comes to conch, we aren’t picky, and no matter how it’s prepared, we won’t complain!

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Now here’s where things get tricky. We’ve used the term conch to describe a sea creature and a delectable dishes, but now we will use the term to describe a human (and no, they do not live underwater or are fried like a fritter). In the late 1800s, Bohemian immigrants in the Florida Keys were nicknamed “conchs”. By the 1900s, Key West was occupied by a large population of Bohemian descendants. Over the years, residents of Key West started calling themselves “Key West Conchs” as well. Today, anyone who was born in Key West is considered a “Saltwater Conch” while long-term residents are called a “Freshwater Conch”.

In 1982, the U.S. government set up a blockade at the entrance of the main highway going into the Florida Keys. Visitors and residents were required to provide proof of U.S. citizenship before being able to pass. The mayor of Key West threatened the Federal court with succession from the Union as the Conch Republic. The issue was quickly resolve, but since that day, Key West has been referred to as the Conch Republic.

So there you have it, three different meanings of the phrase “Key West Conch”.  Now the next time you’re asked what a conch is, you can offer up some impressive trivia!

Sunset Watersports – Key West’s Premier Activities, Attractions and Watersports Company
Key West Bight * Smathers Beach * Parrot Key Resort * Hurricane Hole Marina
www.sunsetwatersportskeywest.com
Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-2554

Key West Food Tours: A Taste of Key West

Sunset Watersports knows how precious your vacation time is, so we’re always looking for island activities that show you what Key West is all about. Our most recent find: Key West Food Tours . Here’s why we think this island gem is worth your time.

From conch fritters to key lime pie, Key West is a haven for delicious eats. But with close to 400 restaurants in the island’s four mile radius, it can be challenging for both locals and visitors to find the best bites. Key West Food Tours is a cultural walking tour that stops at local restaurants to taste tropical dishes prepared by some of the best chefs on the island. It’s a perfect way to discover local restaurants serving up authentic Key West grub.

Key West Food Tour - Sunset Watersports, Key West FL

Food is often reflective of culture. So is the case here in Key West. On this southernmost food tour, you’ll be introduced to dishes that have been a part of Keys culture for generations, such as Cuban pork, conch fritters and key lime pie. But it’s not just these delicious dishes that makes this tour worth your time… it’s the history. With an impressive wealth of Key West knowledge, your guide provides story after story about what makes the food you’re eating and the island you’re touring so unique. It’s a perfect combination of food, drink, history and entertainment– all topped with that famous Key West flare.

Key West Food Tour - Sunset Watersports, Key West FL

We can’t tell you too much about the secret spots Key West Food Tours takes you to, so you’ll just have to check it out for yourselves. Rain or shine, tours run Wednesday – Saturday; 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM. Tickets are $65. For more booking and more information about Key West Food Tours, check out their website HERE. Then once you’ve had your fill of food and you’re ready to hit the water, join Sunset Watersports for snorkeling, jet skiing, spirited sunset cruising and more! Check it out right HERE on our website.

Sunset Watersports – Key West’s Premier Activities, Attractions and Watersports Company
Key West Bight * Smathers Beach * Parrot Key Resort * Hurricane Hole Marina
www.sunsetwatersportskeywest.com
Key West, FL 33040 (305) 296-2554