The island isn’t big, but with so many layers of history, it helps to have a guide. Exactly which kind of guide you want is up to you.
About six years ago, Lloyd Mager was doing odd jobs (the way many people support themselves on this island if they lack that trusty trust fund) when he decided to transform his passion for the place and his hatred for development into a career. Mager runs the extremely awesome Lloyd’s Original Tropical Bike Tour ($35; 305-428-2678).
As a tour guide, he is all coiled energy, a machete-brandishing hellion on wheels. He uses the tool to hack open coconuts, which he carries in his bike basket. (He also carries Key West limes, cutting them open and squeezing the juice into the coconut. His followers get to gulp the irresistible combination, accompanied by his off-key version of “You put de lime in de coconut…”) Making his way into people’s yards, he plucks and serves up all manner of fruit—mangoes, star fruit, sapodillas. He will hold a blossom to your nose and order you to sniff. Don’t refuse. The man has a machete.
After dragging ourselves out of the pool, we rent blue cruisers with swooping handlebars and sign up for Lloyd’s Tropical bike Tour with kooky, Bronx-born Lloyd Mager, a 35-year resident of this 2-by-4 mile island. For 2 hours we roll along under low-hanging red-flowered trees and down flat streets lined with pastel mansions, stopping at landmarks and tropical gardens to pick mangoes and papayas. Read More
KEY WEST — It’s tough to slap an itinerary on Key West. The whole point of this two-by-four-mile island, after all, is to kick off your shoes and let it all hang out. But here’s the rub: do Key West wrong and you might not relax. So where is the strange, laid-back island that everyone fell in love with? It’s still there, if you know where to look. It’s found biking through Old Town at dusk, when the porches light up and jasmine fills the air. Done right, Key West is still a place where time stands still.
How long does Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour last? “In your mind,” Lloyd Mager likes to tell his customers, “forever.” If you only take one tour, make it this strange, awesome trip through the back streets of Key West. The Bronx-born, mango-obsessed Mr. Mager ducks in and out of private gardens (including his older brother’s, much to his chagrin), hacking at coconuts with his machete, cracking jokes and spreading the local lore he has cultivated in his 35 years on the island. The tour is $35 and lasts (in real time, anyway) two hours. Read More
KEY WEST — Lloyd Mager, tour guide, is ready. Machete: sharpened. Coconuts: ripe. Conch shell: in tune.
His latest group of vacationers, from Ohio and Maine, are about to see what’s left of his paradise.
“I’m here to show the real Key West,” he says. “The funky, easygoing, laid back, relaxed island where you don’t need a lot to have fun.
Mager’s job is to energetically point out fruit, trees, flowers and other tropical aspects of Key West that the average tourist might miss.
At Nancy’s Secret Garden, Mager grabbed a fruit picker and speared a papaya for all to try.
A big part of his two-hour tour is showing off all the fruit trees around the island. He came up with a list of 30 he has tasted on the tour.
“He brings awareness to the island for its flora , and he does it on a bicycle, so there’s twelve less cars on the road.”
“Lloyd takes you places you can’t go on your own.”
It’s healthy for the environment and healthy for your body and soul. It’s one of the charm attractions in Key West.
How do you reduce your carbon footprint, save on gas and see the best of Key West all at once? Just follow Lloyd Mager of Lloyd’s Tropical Bike Tour. He’s been leading bike tours through Key West’s out-of-the-way places for more than 20 years, showing folks the island’s historic architecture, pocket parks and hidden gardens through his hands-on field trips. Stop to smell the frangipani and taste seasonal fruit such as sapodilla and mango along the way. Read More