Don’t visit the Florida Keys without exploring the brilliant blue of the ocean with a Key West boat tour. Explore the town of Key West and the beaches along the Overseas Highway during your two hour drive west from Key Largo, but the ocean only gets even more amazing out in the water. Plan to get a tour in Key West to head out to explore the only coral barrier reef in North America.

During our family road trip to Florida, we joined a boat excursion in Key West to sail through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to explore the mangroves on kayak and snorkel in the reef. It was the highlight of our Key West vacation with kids. Charter a Key West Danger Cruise. Live “danger”ously with the name, but feel amazingly safe while sailing with Danger Charters out of Key West, Florida.

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Danger Charters Schooner on a Sail and Kayak Key West Eco Tour
Key West Danger Charters Schooner on our Sail Boat Snorkel and Kayak Trip

Danger Charters Sail Boat Tour FAQs

Danger cruise Key West, offers several different sail tours and an option to choose from morning or afternoon. Both guided tour options provide your family 4.5 hours total to enjoy the scenery from the deck of the their 65-foot schooner while the cruise team does all the work for you.

Where should I park for a Danger Charters trip?

Parking for a Danger Charters trip is available at an hourly rate in the parking deck for the Marina. However, given the Danger tour office location near Mallory Square and other Key West popular locations, you can park anywhere in the area and walk over.

What happens at arrival at the Danger Charters office?

Prepare to arrive about half an hour to the Opal Key Resort & Marina where the office is situated at 255 Front Street. There will be a sign outside the Danger Charters office door when they are open. Line up to check in, complete forms and payment if needed, and head back outside to apply your sunscreen while waiting for the group to assemble. Their office additionally has supplies you might need including a waterproof phone case, sunscreen, and sun shirts.

How will we spend our time on the sailboat?

As you sail out on your Key West adventure, your family will relax while the experts pass out a snack and non-alcoholic drink (until after the trip). These Florida ecotour experts will teach you about the reef, animals, and sailboat while they are preparing the sails. This is an excellent trip for those who love to ask all the questions – the team will patiently answer all of them!

What does kayaking look like on the Danger Charters trip?

As you arrive within paddling distance of one of the many mangrove forests, the team unloads an endless number of kayaks from the hold below the sailboat and gives basic instruction to first-timers if needed. In teams of two, your group loads into sea kayaks to head off on a guided tour of the mangroves and their wildlife. Prepare to have many sea birds identified for you as you head into the mangroves to learn about their roots and involvement in the ocean ecosystem. Maybe if you’re lucky that day, you’ll see a sea turtle or dolphin or horseshoe crab.

How is snorkeling part of the Danger Charters trip?

Back in the boat, you’ll sail over toward the company’s favorite part of the reef where you’ll receive snorkel, mask, and flippers. Feel free to bring your own if you want – we loved being able to use our new full face snorkel mask for even more water clarity. Under the water on our trip we saw barracudas, huge sea sponges, southern stingrays, and lots of fish. Plan to stay in water an hour or so. Although you won’t be guided during this portion of the trip, they will call you over to areas to see something special. For the most part, this is you and your kid following each other through the clear water.

Watching the Waves from the Danger Schooner
Watching the Waves from the Danger Schooner

Supplies for a Key West Day Cruise

Danger Charters provides everything you will need for your day including restrooms on board. Although a portion of the sail boat is covered allowing you to sit in some shade, there will be lots of sun hopefully for the rest of your trip. Prepare for sun and water, but otherwise, the crew will provide everything you and your family need for the day.

Does Danger Charters provide snorkel gear?

Snorkels, face masks, and flippers are provided on this Key West tour, and they worked perfectly great. However, it might be easier for those new to snorkeling and for your littles to try the full-face snorkel mask. Once I tried on my kids’, I wished I had stolen them earlier in the trip. The view seemed so much clearer. With a valve at the top of the snorkel to keep water from getting in, I also didn’t accidentally inhale water! Even if your kids don’t want to use snorkels, remind them that this will help them go faster and to float better; they will wish they had them later.

What should I wear to get in the water?

Consider bringing a few extras are need to keep you comfortable, protect the reef, and document your journey. While some people went kayaking and snorkeling in their swimsuits (and got sunburned), my family chose to wear our shorts and sun shirts – and still got a bit burned. When an afternoon rainstorm settled in, everyone got super wet on the top of the boat, so leave anything fancy at home.

What supplies do I need in my bag?

You could easily arrive at the Danger Charters dock with nothing other than identification and a credit card. However, you skin will fry in the sun.

Snorkeling with Dad in the Keys - Much easier with pool noodles!
Snorkeling with Dad in the Keys Much easier with pool noodles

Ocean Safety with Kids in Key West

Open water snorkeling make you nervous! Honestly, I’m still not the biggest fan of it. However, Danger Charters is a team of experts. They’ve seen it all and can talk you through your fears. If some members of your group might be second-guessing their readiness to kayak or snorkel in the barrier reef, it’s okay. They are welcome to enjoy the fun from the deck of the ship while others head out; the boat is never left unattended. It also helps worried moms to know that professional eyes on the boat are continually looking out for those in the water.

How does the Danger Charters team keep us safe?

To feel extra secure, Danger Charters even provides pool noodles or life vests to make you feel more comfortable out in the ocean. Rest a pool noodle under your chest, and let it do all the floating work for you. Not to mention, these also allow your kids to more easily see you if they lose you.

As for other ocean safety, the kayaking portion of the Key West day trip is done in very shallow water about two to three feet deep. During our trip, one of the guides even jumped out to catch a horseshoe crab off the sandy bottom and show it to us. Exploring around the mangroves is a great place for first time kayakers to work their nerves out.

Do my kids need to be good swimmers for the boat trip?

While being a strong swimmer would be helpful before heading out with Danger Charters, it is not required.

  • Do yourself (and the kids) a favor and practice with a snorkel mask before the trip. You might consider purchasing or borrowing different types to see which works best for them.
  • Practice swimming together and show them how they can hold your hand easily while snorkeling. This will also help Mom feel better that they won’t lose a kid in the ocean!
  • Head to the neighbors’ pool with some snorkels and let them practice in calm water.
  • Discuss how open water will be different and might be scary. Prepare them without scaring them.
  • Look at pictures of Florida fish, so they can be prepared. My kids saw barracudas and were nervous; they need to know that there may be some big fish, but they won’t bother them.

Protect the Florida Reefs

Whether or not you put chemicals on your body, that’s your business. However, please take the plunge to purchase a reef-safe sunscreen to protect the coral reefs. Our 2020 Maui with kids vacation showed us just how much damage has been done by humans as the sunscreen chemicals bleach out the colors and affect the ocean wildlife. Yes, “reef-safe” might cost a few more dollars; if everyone spent that few extra dollars, the impact would be enormous.

Before your trip, take a bit of time learning about the global importance of the coral reefs in Earth’s oxygen level and how we are damaging them through our sunscreen and other products. Even if it doesn’t say “coral-reef safe”, you can read the ingredients and make sure it doesn’t have oxybenzone, a major culprit and main ingredient in most commercial sunscreens. When in doubt, limit your need with a sun shirt!

Ocean Kayaking in the Mangrove Forest
Ocean Kayaking in the Mangrove Forest

A Danger Charters Review

This family water adventure was just in a half day trip! It was the highlight of my Florida Keys road trip. As a homeschool mom, I love showing my kids adults who truly love their jobs. The staff of Danger Charters Key West takes you away from the heavy tourism of Key West to show you the ocean that they love and know. This group doesn’t just drive boats; they know the ocean, know how to find the animals, and know how to make you love it too.

There are many different water adventure options throughout the Keys and Key West, and they’re all probably all excellent. However, don’t just trust their word for it. I can tell you that our Danger Charters trip was the highlight of our Key West adventure. Give them a call, but don’t wait until you’re there. They might just sell out! Setting out from Key West, Florida, Danger Charters also offers special occasion or sunset cruises from Key West to view the town from the water.

If you’re planning a family trip to Florida, check out “Key West: Know Before You Go” for more information.

Thank you to Danger Charters for collaborating with me on our trip! It really was delightful.

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Check out Danger Charters, and add some snorkel locations to my bucket list. Where was your favorite water experience?

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