West Martello Gardens of Key West


Thanks for your patience as I prepared this week’s little getaway. I hope it was worth your wait. Enjoy!

The morning my husband and I were scheduled to fly to the Dry Tortugas from Key West, we left our favorite B&B with time to spare. Perhaps sensing my anxiety about our impending date with a tiny seaplane, he suggested we stop at one of the local beaches for a romantic stroll. (Isn’t he sweet?) I jumped at the chance to burn off some nervous energy and quell my fervent imagination.  We generally bike past Higgs Beach on our way to Smathers, but this time we made it our destination.

If you’ve traveled to Key West or are a regular reader of this blog, you know the Conch Republic is renowned more for its splendid sunsets, fishing, water sports, and vibrant nightlife than spectacular beaches. Higgs Beach is small and ultra-casual, frequented more by locals than tourists, but still has some interesting features. This is a good place for beginning snorkelers to acclimate to the water with mask and snorkel merely by descending steps at the end of the pier and following the underwater pylons. History buffs may appreciate the African Cemetery located between Higgs and White Street. Families may enjoy feeding fish off the pier or taking little ones across the street to Astro Park for some playground fun.

This is where my husband led me. Serene, beautiful, and romantic…

Entrance to West Martello Garden, Key West

My senses were in heaven. I drank in the dappled sunlight amidst the lush foliage, and the angular beauty of the tower, walkways, and gazebo architecture juxtaposed against nature’s errant curves.  I inhaled the ocean breeze imbued with sweet tropical flowers.

Dappled sunlight amid the lush foliage

As I revelled in the delicious sights and smells, the many garden fountains played watery music, drowning out the everyday noises. Traffic and babble were replaced by the trill of exotic insects and calls of resident birds. Truly peaceful.

I almost hated to ruin the moment by recording it. A photograph or sixty second amateur video cannot possibly do justice to the experience. But I had to try.

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 17:47:30

    My quiet place has become the lake. We have taken our dog for walks along the edge of Lake Champlain at AuSable Point campground. We started this just a few weeks ago, once the camping season ended and we are now allowed to use the beach with the dog. After growing up on the water’s edge, it is amazing how the smells of the water can bring back a slower pace among the hectic ordeal of daily stresses. After doing the unbelievable Thanksgiving shopping along with all of the hundreds shoppers, the dog and I spent a chilly, thrilling hour before heading back home. Love it,,,,, I got exercise, fresh air and now the pup is exhausted. Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 22, 2011 @ 18:24:15

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for sharing! Water has such a calming effect, doesn’t it? What a nice opportunity for exercise and time with your pet, taking a stroll along the lake’s edge. Based on your view, I suppose it doesn’t matter where we live. Each environment has its own set of stressors. I’m so thankful my husband does all the Thanksgiving shopping and cooking. I get to play hostess and pretty much relax. I hope you and your family has a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the trimmings. Say hi to everyone for us! 🙂

  2. Catie Rhodes
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 12:06:16

    I’m always in awe of your Key West vacations. As for slowing down and relaxing, I love the beach, but I hate how crowded it is. My husband and I are both tired of suburbia, so we get as far out in the unpopulated country as we can. We enjoy the Texas Hill Country quite a bit–especially the far western parts. They’re very unpopulated. So what we go for is lack of people. LOL

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 23, 2011 @ 15:26:44

      Hi Catie! Funny you should mention you go for “lack of people.” We always travel to Key West during the off-season. We like the laid-back atmosphere–without the crowds. I wonder if I would love being there as much during the high season. Serenity and privacy have a lot going for them. Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  3. Jeannie Moon
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 16:00:28

    There’s a town beach where I live that’s always quiet in the summer. It’s sandwiched between a private community and a bigger fancier beach. I love going to small beach, alone, early in the morning. I think, I read, I jot notes–more than anything I collect my thoughts. I feel like Winnie the Pooh with his thinking spot.

  4. Nicole Basaraba
    Nov 25, 2011 @ 07:52:18

    Well living in central Brussels, the capital city of Europe, I tend to really miss the natural countryside of Canada. When I’m really in need of some fresher air to to get a bit of distance from the honking traffic, I go to one of the few natural parks in Brussels, that has big tall trees that grew naturally and were not planted in a perfectly straight row. In the end though, its not the same, but it does give me a taste of the nature that I so dearly miss.

    Its a shame I’m going home only in winter when the ground will be covered in heaps of snow, because otherwise I would stop and smell the wild roses of Alberta. 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 25, 2011 @ 10:05:12

      Hi Nicole,

      I suppose we always have an affinity to our home environment where we were raised. I miss the mountains and adore evergreen trees, thrive only near water, and often yearn for the quiet of the Adirondacks.

      I’m sad you only get home to Alberta during the winter season, but I know you’ll enjoy your family.

  5. Marcia
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 14:12:43

    Back in my hometown I went daily to the lake in the northeastern suburb to unwind and revel in the quiet beauty of the water. In my current town, its population is only 8,000, so it’s pretty quiet on its own. We are also close to mountains, lakes and rural towns…lots of farms, forests and hills.

    I will get to your Key West in 2012. You make it so enticing, and off-season sounds fabulous!
    Sorry I’ve been absent of late…I’ve missed you and your travel posts!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 26, 2011 @ 17:23:51

      Hi Marcia,

      It’s great to see you here. Life has been very busy, hasn’t it? I’ve missed you, too. I’m excited to hear that you’ll be travelling to Key West soon. It has so much to offer. Feel free to email me, too, if you’d like, as you make plans for your getaway. I’d love to help. 🙂

  6. Tuere Morton
    Nov 27, 2011 @ 07:40:36

    I love the enchanting walkway! The pic with you next to those huge trees really puts things in perspective with how grand Mother Nature truly is 🙂

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 27, 2011 @ 09:18:51

      Hi Tuere! I have another photo of me standing against the Strangler Fig tree that shows its magnificance as well. I posted that pic and others on FB if you’re interested.

  7. Gwen Hernandez
    Nov 27, 2011 @ 11:21:12

    Gorgeous, Jolyse! One of the reasons I like to run is that it forces me to get outside and enjoy the weather, the abundant trees in our neighborhood, and the fresh air. I love hiking through the forest or walking along ocean cliffs, and I really miss living in California where I stopped at the beach almost every day on my way home.

    I’m not a camper or extreme outdoors person, but I definitely need that connection with nature to calm my soul.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Nov 27, 2011 @ 17:15:44

      Hi Gwen! I haven’t traveled to California yet, but I hope to one day. I don’t care as much about the sightseeing in LA or Beverly Hills as much as Sonoma Valley and the Pacific Ocean. I’ll be sure to ask you for suggestions when we go.

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