Ghost hunting can be fascinating fun and Key West, Florida is a great place to do it. The island is considered one of the most haunted places in North America. One of the best ways to get to know this unique destination is by exploring it with a paranormal expert on one of the many guided Key West Ghost Tours. On a recent visit to Key West, I enjoyed an evening tour with Haunted Key West Tours. I learned captivating history, heard interesting stories and saw a few things that were quite simply out-of-the-ordinary.
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Related: Florida is full of interesting destinations. Check out our post about Kayaking in the Florida Everglades.
Gear up For Ghost Hunting Fun
Serious ghost hunters have gear. On guided Key West Ghost Tours, the guides supply the gear as well as the interesting stories. If you want to explore more on your own, you’re going to need your own. The book, Haunted Key West provides more detailed information than you get on the 90-minute tour. You can also pick up some equipment to help with your quest. A spirit box can help you hear what a spirit has to say. You can also get an electromagnetic field gauge and a copper dowsing rod. A temperature gauge can also be useful.
Key West is a Paranormal Hot Spot
There’s a reason Key West Ghost Tours are so popular. “Key West is ranked #4 in the country for paranormal activity,” says paranormal expert and guide, Kevin Lisinski. “The island has a foundation of coralline and limestone and that’s a good conductor. It’s also surrounded by salt water and this makes it more difficult for spirits to leave.” The history of the island also contributes to its status as a hot spot. When the Spanish found the island, they dubbed it “Cayo Hueso.” Roughly translated this means “Isle of Bones.” Legend has it that the island was covered with human skulls and bones left behind by two warring indigenous tribes.
Key West Ghost Tours – First Stop
I’ve experienced several ghost tours over the years in various destinations. I usually learn a lot of the interesting historical information and Key West Ghost Tours are no exception. Our first stop was at the Banyan Resort to see the historic Cosgrove House. Captain Phillip Cosgrove purchase the home in 1871 for $1,600. His wife planted banyan trees in the yard for shade and those trees have taken over. The house is one of several historic homes that have been converted to a resort. The reason it’s on the ghost tour is because locals say it is haunted by the ghost of Captain Cosgrove. “On one tour, people saw him walk out of the bushes right behind me,” Lisinski said. “That doesn’t happen very often though.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen on our tour.
Enriquetta and Marrero’s Guest Mansion
Marrero’s Guest House is a common stop on Key West Ghost Tours. It was the second stop on our tour. The property is said to be haunted by the spirit of Mrs. Enriquetta Marrero. Enriquetta was married to Francisco Marrero, a wealthy Cuban cigar maker who died on a business trip to Cuba. Shortly after his death, a stranger came forward claiming to be his first wife. She produced a document of marriage and a bitter court case ensued. Enriquetta lost the case and she and her 8 children were thrown out of the house. They all died within two years of becoming homeless. According to our guide, modern day experts believe the marriage certificate in question was a fake. Locals believe the spirits of the Marrero family still reside in the house.
Ghost Stories and Tales of Debauchery
Our tour continued with more fascinating tales of the ghastly ghostly history of Key West. We learned the story behind the haunted elevator at La Concha Hotel and Spa. In front of the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home we heard the incredible story of Count Carl von Cosel who lived with a dead body for seven years. The creepiest story was about Robert the Doll, Key West’s terrifying haunted doll.
Key West Ghost Tours – Doing a Little Ghost Busting
At one point in the tour, we were led to a particularly haunted spot in Old Key West, given some tools and told to record our findings. I couldn’t help feeling just a little bit like a ghost buster. We ended at the Studios of Key West, a center for the arts that was once a school run by Freemasons. It was here that our guide utilized a spirit box to communicate with the spirits present in the building. We heard voices and our guide seemed to be able to communicate with those voices. All in all, it was fascinating.
Key West Ghost Tours – Wash up When You’re Finished
To make sure no ghosts follow the guests home after their Key West Ghost Tours, Haunted Key West Tours has everyone do a cleanse at the end of the tour. The cleanse is done using Casparia powder made from crushed eggshells and Florida Water, which is a Cuban cologne and a traditional tool for spiritual cleansing.
Where to Stay
There are many different accommodation options in Key West. If you want to stay in one of the newest luxury resorts, check out Oceans Edge Resort and Marina. That’s where I stayed. The resort has six swimming pools, multiple dining venues, complimentary bike rentals, complimentary stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, a downtown shuttle and a variety of activities.
Do You Believe in Ghosts?
What do you think? Are ghosts real? We’d love to hear from you. Please comment below. I’ve never actually seen a ghost, but I’ve seen and heard some interesting and unexplained things in my travels. One thing I know for sure – a ghost tour is a great way to learn about the hidden history of a destination. In Key West, Haunted Key West Tours is the original and best.