"Are you near the beach?"

 
                                                                

When someone asks me “Are you near the beach?” I always respond “Is this your first time visiting the Keys?”  Usually people are taken back by my observation.  Stunned silence follows.  Then they sometimes try to cover with “No, we’ve been to Key West a couple times.”  But a little exploring reveals it was just a short stopover on a cruise ship.  And no, they haven’t really seen the Keys.

 
It’s easy to see, because most people who haven’t explored the Keys, will freely substitute “beach” and “ocean”, assuming one implies the other.  But in the Keys, we have lots of ocean – not as much beach. 
 
Oh sure, there are a few natural sandy beaches: Bahia Honda Key and Marvin Key are gorgeous examples.  But most – including all the Key West beaches – are man-made with sand shipped in from the Bahamas.  Where the islands are left in their natural state, the mangroves protect the shoreline as well as the abundant wild-life and sea life that gives birth around it.
 
The shorelines of the 600 or so islands that make up the Keys is really more beautiful and diverse than any beach in the world!  But it’s not a beach.

 

Key Largo- Sunset, originally uploaded by dbullens.

 

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