Clouds on the edge of a rain storm are dramatically beautiful as they quickly roll in near Higgs Beach, Key West.
Youve arrived in Key West and its raining
and now the wind has picked up! This is not the weather you imagined when you were planning your island vacation. You were looking forward to sunshine and island beach lounging, not afternoon cloud bursts let alone a tropical down-pour.
There, there, now dont despair
wet weather need not dampen your adventuresome spirit. Id like to share a few of my favorite ways to make a rainy day memorable. Ill skip the usual suggestions, like shopping on Duval Street and hanging out in famous local bars. Im sure youll navigate your way to these popular places anyway, rain or shine.
Instead, Id like to invite you to enjoy an unexpected opportunity to get laid back and discover some mellow things to do in Key West you may have never even considered if the sun had predictably shined all day long. A couple of them are my personal favorites and the others are tried-and-true by other local rainy day pleasure seekers.
The first thing to remember, is that Key West is a tropical island 150 miles out to sea where rain storms tend to pass-over quickly, usually within an hour, so dont panic about the weather. Its rare a rare occasion that its rainy or windy all day. The second thing to consider is that tropical rain showers are refreshing, not bracingly cold like what youre used to if you live in a northern climate. Keeping in mind that the rain probably wont last long, and that even if it does it wont be cold, its time to get out your water shoes, rain parka, or umbrella, and make a rainy day plan and enjoy!
Beach and Pier Stroll
During summer months, you can expect short afternoon cloud bursts that bring a welcome cool relief from the heat. I love to walk the beach path that goes along the south shore during the afternoon rain, starting at Higgs Beach. The clouds on the leading edge of the storm are dramatically beautiful as they quickly roll in. The air is fresh, the palm fronds rustle, and there are always pelicans and seagulls playfully riding the wind. Dodge into Salute Restaurant
on the Beach for a coffee before you start the walk. Take a jaunt out onto the White Street Pier if its not too windy. Wear water shoes or flip flops, and dont worry about getting your feet wet. Part of the fun is sloshing in the puddles. A rain parka is best for this adventure, as the wind can grab hold of an open umbrella and turn it inside out. A word of caution that should be obvious dont go walking in the rain in a thunder storm.
Float in the Pool
Our family loves to dip in our swimming pool in the rain. If youre staying in a vacation rental
that has a pool, try it. There is something luxuriating about being in a warm swimming pool or Jacuzzi tub feeling the rain drops against bare skin. If youre lucky enough to be staying where theres a tropical pool-garden, enjoy the plants and flowers while youre bobbing in the water and notice how their foliage gently moves in the rain. Use common sense here too, and dont jump in the pool in a thunderstorm.
Sleep-In and Order-In an Exotic Breakfast
You probably planned to sleep-in on your vacation anyway. But theres something especially romantic about lounging in bed during a tropical rain storm. There are often beautiful tropical flowers and plants to glimpse at out the windows, and ordering-in a brunch or maybe just some famous Key West Cuban coffee can make the experience perfect. One of my favorite things to do is have coffee con leche and cheese toast delivered to the house from Sandys Café
. Most restaurants in Key West deliver.
Key West Porch Sitting
If youve rented a vacation rental
house or cottage, chances are good you have a front sitting porch to enjoy. The front porch is the perfect place to wait out a rain storm and watch the world of Key West go by. When youve had enough of lounging around the house, youll find several establishments downtown that serve wine, beer, or cocktails on outdoor covered porches. Three of my favorites are the Grand Vin Porch
on Duval Street for wine sipping, The Porch
on Caroline Street for exotic beers, and Louies Back Yard
on the ocean on Waddell Street for a cocktail.
Massage and Day Spa
Why not treat yourself to a day of health and beauty. Key West has some excellent massage therapists who will come to your vacation rental
or hotel room. I suggest you call a few of the health and beauty spas on the island and talk to them about what services youre interested in. If you prefer to go to the spa, Caribbean Spa
at the Pier House Resort is a beautiful full-service day spa. Prana Spa
has also more recently become established and popular.
Visit Mysterious Pre-Civil War Fort East Martello
Something about a rainy-windy day makes a visit to the East Martello Towers Fort
museum even more mysterious. Maybe its the lore of the infamous turn-of-the-century ghost resident Robert the Doll
, who prominently sits in a glass case and has been visited by ghost hunters, psychics, and featured on television. An 1860s national landmark, now run by the Key West Art and Historical Society
, the fort is full of fascinating relics and folk art of Mario Sanchez and Stanley Papio. Located at oceans edge on the south end of the island it can be a walking destination if you enjoy longer strolls along the beach path. An amazing piece of massive brick architecture, its one of three Civil War Forts built on Key West to defend against an assault by the Confederacy. The two others forts, that are best visited in the sunshine, include West Martello Fort (home of the Key West Garden Club), and Fort Zachary Taylor.
Matinee Movie at the Tropic Cinema
A rainy day in Key West is the perfect excuse to see a film at the Tropic Cinema
. This charming art-deco style theater is not your typical movie house which is apparent when you walk by and see the life-size sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, by Seward Johnson, outside the front door. Open every day, it shows foreign films, Indie films, and Hollywood blockbusters in two screening rooms and a main theater that seats 150. I love the up-beat and beautiful art-deco style lobby and am always impressed with the delicious healthy homemade treats, espresso, wine, beer, and popcorn with all sorts of creative toppings. Run by members, this is a non-profit theater that has been voted by Florida Monthly Magazine as The Best Florida Cinema for the last 4 years in a row! Once you leave the theater, theres a pretty good chance the sun will be out again and youll be positioned in the ideal location to turn left out the door and walk to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach, or turn right and head for Duval Street.
So embrace your rainy day of restorative relaxation. Getting mellow and taking-in some of the quieter pleasures of the island just might completely change the way you love Key West. After all, "life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about dancing in the rain."