Have you stopped by Turtle Kraals Key West yet? No? Then you have missed out on one of the best places in Key West to relax. Located at 231 Margaret Street in the heart of the Historic Seaport, this is the spot to sit, relax, enjoy the view and great food.
The building was built in the early 1950’s to support the turtle industry. Back then, for thirteen cents, a tourist could watch turtles being unloaded, placed into the turtle kraals and watch the soup cannery operations. The building served as the gift ship and is considered one of the first tourist attractions in the Historic Seaport.
Turtle Kraal seems like a strange word… where does it come from? It is derived from a Dutch African word for “corral”. The green turtles were kept here before being exported all over the world. Because of the conservation efforts put into place during the 1970’s, the green turtle population has increased.
The first reason is definitely the view and location. Located in the Historic Seaport, Turtle Kraals Key West is perfectly located so you can watch people stroll by while sitting in the ground floor dining room. Tucked among the other seaport shops, it won’t take long to relax and enjoy the views of the water once seated. Watch the boats come and go from the marina. I say, make it an afternoon of people and boat watching!
Want a higher perspective? Check out the Tower Bar. Here you can watch boats pulling in and out of the Key West Harbor. The house binoculars will provide you, and the kids, an opportunity to see fresh fish being unloaded and birds flying around the harbor.
The second reason is the turtle races. If you have not had an opportunity to watch these, you have missed out on old fashioned Bahamian entertainment. Begining at 7pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, the turtles race and lucky ticket holders have the opportunity to win cash. The cash prize can reach up to $500.
Here’s how it works. Starting at 4:30 you can pick up a free ticket from either the bartender or your server. The races have four box turtles that scurry to be the fastest across the finish line. Adults, kids, locals and tourists all cheer on the turtles; especially the turtle whose number is on your possible winning ticket. If your turtle wins, then you receive a key and have any opportunity to open the box to the prize winnings. Its family fun on any given night.
Be sure to check out their Facebook back to confirm dates and times of the races. The summer heat may effect race days.
The third reason is, of course, is the food. Turtle Kraals Key West has some of the best ceviche on the island. This delicious treat was created in the 15th century when the Spanish and Incas met. Turtle Kraals prepares theirs in the traditional Peruvian style.
My personal favorite is the ceviche flight. I can never decide on which one I want, so I order the flight. The flight is big enough to share because you get a sampling of nikkei, Key West, mojito and Peruvian ciassico styles of ceviche. The rest of the menu is fabulous and like most reviews state, you can’t go wrong ordering anything off of the menu.
Everyday should be a happy day and at Turtle Kraals it is. Which brings us to reason number four… Happy Hour. From 4:30 to 6:30 daily, they offer Happy Hour specials. They have special pricing on select drinks and have a select Happy Hour menu (hint: try the deep dish nachos!)
If you are looking for a special house drink to celebrate Happy Hour, then try the Key Lime Margarita. It may not be part of the specially priced drinks, but it is well worth it.
Finally, reason number five… the rewards program. This is a pretty cool program. Available at several places in Key West, you can receive certificates when you reach 100 and 200 points and then in your birthday month. Download the app and start earning points. The reward program is for Turtle Kraals, Green Parrot Liquors, Half Shell, Charlie Mac’s and Island Dogs.
Turtle Kraals Key West is indeed a perfect place to relax. Take in the view, sip a cocktail, enjoy a good meal and cheer on your turtle!