With all its shimmering blue water and sunny skies, it may be hard to imagine that Key West could be host to ghostly spirits. Yet, this tiny island paradise, originally named “Bone Key” for the human bones discovered scattered on its beaches, has a past riddled with pirates, Indians, sketchy characters and wretched shipwrecks. Find out the truth about Key West’s most haunted places on the city’s best ghost tour.
1) Visit Robert the Doll, a toy you don’t want to play with.
At the East Martello Fort, you’re likely to encounter numerous spirits; some appear as orbs of light and others as shadowy figures. None will haunt you as much as Robert the Doll. He was once a child’s plaything - given to Gene Otto by a family maid who is said to have been an expert in voodoo. Most who visit Robert are spooked by odd and unexplainable occurrences, voices and malfunctions of cameras when they attempt to take his picture. You’ll hear the story of his sordid past and present and see for yourself how possessed this doll truly is.
2) Hear about Captain Tony’s Saloon - legendary for its spirits.
Legendary for its spirits, in more ways than one, Captain Tony’s Saloon is a Key West icon where Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and many other famous folks frequented. The bar was many things in its past life, including the site for lynchings, hangings and the city morgue. The hanging tree used for public execution still stands today, growing right through the roof of the bar. It’s this history of death and disaster that is the cause for Captain Tony’s haunted reputation. Spooky sightings include glowing ghostly skeletons hanging from the tree, the sounds of voices when no one is in sight, the terrifying apparition of the woman who was executed for killing her husband and child and more.
3) Hurricane of 1846 – the Great Havana Hurricane.
In 1846, a tempest descended on the island - the Great Havana Hurricane of 1846. With its 200 mph winds and immense storm surge, the storm flattened many of the island’s homes and businesses, including the lighthouse. Unfortunately, the lighthouse keeper and her 6 children were seeking refuge from the storm inside the lighthouse when it was reclaimed by the sea. The keeper would survive, but the children would not. Lost and disturbed in the storm was the original settler’s cemetery. Scattered bones of the deceased strewn all over the island, a disturbance so dreadful, are not forgotten by the spirits of those interred.
4) Hear about The Key West Cemetery - home to thousands of lost souls.
A cemetery that is the final resting place of approximately 100,000 people, the Key West Cemetery abounds with lost souls that suffered a tragic demise. Many of the dead were lost to the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1888, others by the great fire in 1886 and many more were those who were executed by hanging. Beware of the Bahamian Guardian who appears and scolds those who are disrespectful to the dead buried there. Visitors to the burial grounds have been approached by her ghost and reported being threatened by her while they sat on graves or walked haphazardly through the graveyard. There have been other accounts of whispers in the dark when no one was in sight, other spirits, voices, and paranormal occurrences happening during the day and night at the cemetery. Many who visit decide not to return, others can’t wait for another look.
5) Ghost Hosts - a frightful friend on your adventure.
When you’re ready for the ghost hunting adventure of your lifetime, climb aboard the Trolley of the Doomed for an experience you won’t ever forget. The guides, our Ghost Hosts, are not just experts on Key West’s most haunted places, they’re the restless souls of many of the island’s most disturbed departed - costumed and ready to share the stories of the dead and the undead with you.
On your next Key West vacation, be sure to include a ride on the Ghosts & Gravestones Frightseeing Tour and don’t forget to bring your camera. Anyone can take pictures of their fun in the sun; you just might capture something unexpected and unseen to the naked eye - a real “live” Key West ghost.