FAQ’s – Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most common questions about Key West



As the official Key West Travel Guide, we receive many often-asked questions about Key West.  Below are some of the most frequently asked questions with concise answers.

History

Who discovered Key West?
Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spaniard who had been with Columbus on his second voyage, is credited with being the first European to land in Florida & the Florida Keys, on Easter Sunday 1513. He gave Florida its name after the Spanish Easter holiday “Pascua Florida”, meaning Feast of Flowers.
Who built the railroad to Key West?
Henry Morrison Flagler built the railroad to Key West. The project began in 1905, when Flagler, a multi-millionare, was 75 years old, and completed in 1912, an investment of 50 million dollars. The railroad was destroyed by the Great Hurricane of 1935.

Parking

Where to park in Key West?
The small island of Key West can be a challenge for drivers looking for parking. Pay parking lots, both private and public, are available throughout the historic district known as “Old Town.” Many public streets have metered parking, as well. Neighborhood streets have street parking, but many spaces are designated “Resident Only” and visitors must not park in these or risk being ticketed. More detailed parking information can be found here.
Key West street parking rules?
  • Do not park in spaces marked “Resident Only,” unless you have a City of Key West Residential Parking Permit, available only to residents of Key West.
  • Pay parking meters as per instructions on meters and electronic pay stations.
  • Recreational vehicles (RV’s), buses, and campers over 20-feet may not be parked on city streets.
  • Boats may not park on city streets.
  • Cars may not occupy the same parking space for more than 3-days in a row.
  • Parking regulations are enforced every day from 8am until midnight.
  • More detailed parking information can be found here.
Where to park in Key West for free?
There is free street parking on many residential Key West streets, although they are usually occupied as free parking is generally scarce.  However, do not park in the “Resident Only” parking spaces, each of which is clearly marked. More detailed parking information can be found here.

Travel Questions

How to get to Key West from Miami?

There are numerous options to get to Key West from Miami.

  • Drive: the distance is approximately 160 miles and, without traffic, normally takes 3 hours. Use caution on the Overseas Highway, obey speed limits, and only pass other vehicles where permitted.
  • Fly: American Airlines offers daily non-stop, direct service between Miami (MIA) and Key West (EYW) airports. Direct flight time is typically 45 minutes. Delta and United offer non-direct service between these airports.
  • Bus:  Greyhound and GO Bus offer affordable daily service between Miami and Key West airports.
  • Shuttle: Keys Shuttle offers daily service between Miami and Key West, with six departures each day.
How to get to Key West from Fort Lauderdale?

There are numerous options to get to Key West from Fort Lauderdale.

  • Drive: the distance is approximately 187 miles and, without traffic, normally takes 4 hours. Use caution on the Overseas Highway, obey speed limits, and only pass other vehicles where permitted.
  • Fly: Silver and United Airlines offers daily non-stop, direct service between Fort Lauderdale (MIA) and Key West (EYW) airports. Direct flight time is typically 1 hour.  Delta, Jet Blue, and American Airlines offer non-direct service between these airports.
  • Bus:  Greyhound and GO Bus offer affordable daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Key West airports.
  • Shuttle: Keys Shuttle offers daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Key West, with six departures each day.
How to get to Key West from Tampa?

There are numerous options to get to Key West from Tampa.

  • Drive: the distance is approximately 430 miles and, without traffic, normally takes 7.5 hours. Use caution on the Overseas Highway, obey speed limits, and only pass other vehicles where permitted.
  • Fly: Silver and United Airlines offers daily non-stop, direct service between Tampa (TPA) and Key West (EYW) airports. Direct flight time is typically 1 hour 20 minutes.  Delta and American airlines offer non-direct service between these airports.
  • Bus:  Greyhound daily service between Tampa and Key West airports, but be aware that trip times are very long – at least 15 hours.
How to plan a trip to Key West?
Since the island of Key West is relatively tiny, the first step in planning a trip to Key West is to secure a hotel reservation. Choices range from luxury resorts to quaint B&B’s.  Next, we suggest you find a flight to a South Florida airport.  Options include flying directly into Key West (EYW), or alternatively and usually more affordably, one of the regional airports (Fort Lauderdale (FLL), or Miami (MIA)) and drive down from there.  Last, make reservations for activities you would like to experience on your vacation.  Many activities sell-out in advance, especially trips to the Dry Tortugas National Park.
Can you get to Key West by car?
Yes, you can get to Key West by car via the Overseas Highway, a roadway that was originally built for trains a century ago. Part of US Highway 1, this two-lane road spans the Florida Keys for 113-miles and crosses 42 bridges and is considered one of the most memorable drives in the United States.  Typical driving times: Miami to Key West – 3 hours; Fort Lauderdale to Key West – 4 hours.  Please obey speed limits, especially in the Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine and nearby islands (from mile markers 29 to 35).  Also, drive defensively and do NOT pass except where permitted. More information about where Key West is located, including maps
Should i rent a car in Key West?
In general, you don’t need to rent a car in Key West, especially if you are staying in Old Town, the historic district, where most everything you’ll want to see will be within walking distance. Plus, parking in Key West is a challenge.  Even if you don’t stay in Old Town, taxis, ride-share services (Uber & Lyft), rental bicycles, and city bus service make it easy to get around the small island. More information about getting around Key West
What are Key West cab and taxi fares?

Key West cab and taxi fares are regulated by the City of Key West and are as follows:

  • Meter rates: $2.95 for the first 1/5th of a mile; $0.70 for additional 1/5’s of a mile;  $0.70 for 50 seconds of wait time
  • Zone charges (4 or more passengers): Zone 1:  $3.50; Zone 2: $4.50; Zone 3: $5.00; Zone 4: $6.50
  • Airport rates (multiple passengers): Zone 1 (South of White Street) $9.00/pp; Zone 2 (White Street to Kennedy Ave) $8.00/pp; Zone 3 (North of Kennedy Ave) $7.00/pp; Zone 4 (Stock Island) $8.00/pp
  • Airport rates (single passenger): $2.95 for the first 1/5th of a mile; $0.70 for additional 1/5’s of a mile;  $0.70 for 50 seconds of wait time
  • more information about Key West taxi services

Geography

How to get around Key West?
Getting around the small island of Key West is easy with numerous options, including walking, bicycles, cars, mopeds (which we generally do not recommend), taxis, ride-share services, tourist trolleys, hotel shuttles, public buses, and pedi-cabs.  Locals often rely on bicycles – known as “Conch cruisers.” More information about getting around Key West
How to get around Key West without a car?
You do not need a car to get around Key West.  Bicycles are the most popular option, especially for locals, and let you experience authentic Key West life.  Other options include: walking, bicycles, cars, mopeds (which we generally do not recommend), taxis, ride-share services, tourist trolleys, hotel shuttles, public buses, and pedi-cabs. More information about getting around Key West
Best way to get around Key West?
If you are staying within Old Town, riding a bicycle  or walking in the historic district is the best way to get around.  You’ll have the opportunity to see the charming neighborhoods and experience Key West at the slower pace locals are accustomed to and visitors seek.  If your destination is further, taxis, ride-sharing services, and buses are your best bet. More information about getting around Key West
Where is Key West, Florida located?
Key West is located off the southern tip of Florida and at the end of the Florida Keys island chain.  Key West is the southernmost point in the continental United States and is the starting point for US Highway 1.  The island is considered between two bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and is only 90 miles from Cuba.  The coordinates for Key West are: Latitude 24.5551° N, Longitude 81.7800° W.  More information about where Key West is located, including maps
Where is mile marker 0 in Key West?
Mile maker 0 of US 1 is located in Key West at the intersection of Fleming Street and Whitehead Street. More information about mile marker 0
Where is mile marker 1?
Mile marker 1 of US 1 is located in “Old Town” Key West, at the corner of Truman Avenue and Havana Lane.
How to get to Key West, Florida?
To travel to Key West, visitors have the choice of air, land and sea transportation. Daily flights are available to Key West International Airport, located directly on the island. Alternatively, many visitors fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale and drive to Key West from there. Highway US 1 spans the Florida Keys and is the only road to and from mainland Florida.  Also, a high-speed boat ferry operates from Fort Meyers to Key West.  More information about getting to Key West
Can you drive to Key West?
Yes, you can drive to Key West from mainland Florida.  Highway US 1 spans the Florida Keys and is the only road to and from mainland Florida.  The distance is approximately 160 miles from Miami, normally a 3-hour, and 4-hours from Fort Lauderdale. Use caution on the Overseas Highway, obey speed limits, and only pass other vehicles where permitted. More information about getting to Key West
Where is Key West Florida on a map?
Key West is located off the southern tip of Florida and at the end of the Florida Keys island chain.  Key West is the southernmost point in the continental United States and is the starting point for US Highway 1.  The island is considered between two bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and is only 90 miles from Cuba.  The coordinates for Key West are: Latitude 24.5551° N, Longitude 81.7800° W.  More information about where Key West is located, including maps
Where do you fly into for Key West?
There is an airport located directly on the island of Key West, known as the Key West International Airport.  This is the only airport in the Florida Keys served by airlines. The airport code is EYW.  Other options include flights to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, a 3-4 hour drive to Key West. More information about getting to Key West
How big is Key West?
Key West is 4 miles long and 2 miles wide, approximately 7.25 square miles, or 4,633 acres.
How long does it take to drive from Miami to Key West?
Without traffic, the drive from Miami to Key West takes 3 hours. The distance is approximately 160 miles.
Which tectonic plate is Key West on, and what is the nearest adjacent plate?
Key West is located on the North American Plate. The nearest adjacent tectonic plate is the Caribbean Plate, just south of Cuba.
Where does US1 start and stop?
Highway US1 starts in Key West, Florida and ends in Fort Kent, Maine. The total length is 2370 miles, making US1 the longest north-south route in the United States. The portion of US1 in the Florida Keys is also known as the “Overseas Highway.”
Where are the beaches in Key West?

Nearly all the beaches in Key West are on the southern shore of the islands.  The two main beaches in Key West:

  • Smathers Beach, the largest, is located on South Roosevelt Blvd (address for navigation is 2601 S. Roosevelt Blvd)
  • Fort Zachary Taylor State Park’s beach is located at the end of Southard Street (it’s official address is 601 Howard England Way, although this address is locally unused).
  • More information about Key West beaches
Does Key West have beaches?
Yes. Key West largest beaches are Smather’s Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.  Other beaches include Higg’s Beach, Simonton Beach, and Dog Beach.  More information about Key West beaches
How are the beaches in Key West?
The beaches in Key West range from soft sand to coral rubble.  Smathers Beach is soft sand.  Fort Zachary Taylor is mostly coral rubble, with some sandy areas.  Most have snorkeling opportunities just offshore. More information about Key West beaches
Are there public beaches in Key West?
Yes, there are public beaches in Key West, including Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach,  Rest Beach, Simonton Beach, and Dog Beach.  Fort Zachary Taylor State Park also has a nice beach, but there is an admission fee for the public to use it.  More information about Key West beaches
Do I need a car in Key West?
In general, you do not need a car while in Key West.  The island is small, only 4-miles wide by 2-miles wide, and the historic quarter known as Old Town is all within a 1-mile radius.  Taxis, ride-sharing services, bicycles, walking, and city buses are plentiful and a convenient way to get around.  More about getting around Key West
How long does it take to get to Key West?
The drive time to Key West is 3-hours from Miami and 4-hours from Fort Lauderdale.  More information about getting to Key West
How far from Miami to Key West?
Miami is 160 miles away from Key West, a drive of 3-hours without traffic.  More information about getting to Key West

Airlines

What airlines fly direct and non-stop to Key West?

Depending on where you depart from, the following airlines offer direct flights to Key West:

  • Delta Airlines – direct flights available to/from Atlanta (ATL)
  • American – direct flights available to/from Miami (MIA), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Charlotte (CLT), Washington DC (DCA)
  • United – Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR)
  • Silver Airways – Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Fort Myers (RSW), Tampa (TPA), Orlando (MCO)

More information about getting to Key West

Where to fly into Florida Keys?
Key West International Airport (EYW) is only airport in the Florida Keys that is serviced by major airlines.  It is located on the island of Key West.  Private flights can also fly into Marathon Airport.  Many visitors to the Florida Keys fly into the mainland Florida airports and drive to Key West.  More information about getting to Key West
What airport is closest to Key West?
Key West International Airport is located directly on the island of Key West. The Miami Airport is located 160 miles from Key West. The Fort Lauderdale Airport is located 188 miles from Key WestMore information about getting to Key West
Does Southwest fly to Key West?
No.  Southwest Airlines no longer flies to Key West.  More information about getting to Key West
Does JetBlue fly to Key West?
JetBlue planes do not fly to Key West.  But the airline does have a code-share agreement with Silver Airways, allowing you to book flights Key West on the JetBlue website, allowing you to connect to a Silver Airways flight into Key West.

Tourism Statistics

How many tourists visit Key West each year?
In 2016, approximately 366,000 tourists arrived in Key West by airplane, 700,000 tourists visited Key West by cruise ship, and 94,000 visited by boat ferry.  In addition, hundreds of thousands have arrived by car. More Key West tourism statistics
How many tourists visit the Florida Keys each year?
4 million tourists visited the Florida Keys in 2016. More Key West tourism statistics
Key West tourist population?
On any given day, there are typically between 10,000 and 15,000 tourists in Key West.  This compares to 29,000 residents of the island.  More Key West tourism statistics

What to Pack

What to pack for Key West?
With its warm and humid weather and laid back lifestyle, pack casual lightweight cotton clothing for a visit to Key West. Shorts, short-sleeved shirts, sandals, bathing suits, brimmed hat, and sunglasses are basic necessities. In the cooler winter months, also pack a pair of jeans or pants and a light jacket or sweatshirt. More suggestions for what to pack
What to pack for 7 days in Key West?
Key West Travel Guide suggests the following for a seven-day trip to Key West: 7 short-sleeved shirts, 2 long-sleeved shirts, 7 pairs shorts, 1 pair of sandals, 1 hat, 1 sunglasses, 2 nicer shirts, 1 pair pants or jeans, sunscreen & toiletries. More suggestions for what to pack
What to wear in Key West?
Key West is very casual and bohemian, and your dress can reflect that. Feel free to wear comfortable clothes, as you will be welcome in the finest restaurants in shorts and short-sleeves. If you do dress up, strive for an island-casual look, with linen, cotton, and other cool fabrics. Shoes should be comfortable and made for walking. More suggestions for what to pack
What to wear in Key West at night?
Most residents and visitors to Key West wear comfortable, casual clothing at night. Dressing up often means switching from t-shirts to button-up shirts. Ladies will be most comfortable in loose fitting cotton clothes and lightweight sundresses. High-heels and heavy make-up are not comfortable or common in Key West, though if that is your preference, feel free; that is what Key West is all about. More suggestions for what to pack
What to wear in Key West in December, January, and February?
In December, January, February, temperatures in Key West typically average between 65-75 degrees(Fahrenheit). And, if a cold-front comes through, it can be ten degrees cooler. Key West Travel Guide suggests wearing shorts during the day and jeans at night. Also, bring a long-sleeved sweatshirt or jacket in case of a cold-front. Hats and sunglasses are always recommended. More suggestions for what to pack
What to wear New Year’s Eve in Key West
Most people dress casually for New Year’s Eve in Key West. Men often wear button up short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, with shorts or pants, and sandals or casual shoes.
Women typically wear casual, modern, island-wear, including: lightweight blouses, dresses, and shorts. Feel free to dress casually as Key West is very informal and laid back.More suggestions for what to pack
How much money to take to Key West?
Budget at least $200 per day, per person for your visit to Key West. You can certainly have a smaller budget, but nice dinners average at least $50 per person. Most watersports cost $45-$150 per activity. Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, so feel free to bring only a portion of your budget in cash. More suggestions for what to pack

Dry Tortugas National Park & Fort Jefferson

How much cost is the ferry to Dry Tortugas?

The day-trip on the ferry to the Dry Tortugas costs, rountrip:

  • $165 per adult, plus $10 park admission fee
  • $155 per seniors, age 62 & over, plus $10 park admission fee
  • $125 per child, age 16 & under
  • FREE for children age 3 & under
The overnight camping trip on the ferry to the Dry Tortugas costs:
  • $185 per adult
  • $145 per child
  • $10 park admission fee and $15 per campsite/per night camping is additional
How to get to the Dry Tortugas?

To get to the Dry Tortugas, you will need to take a boat or seaplane. Daily ferry boat service and seaplane flights are available only from Key West, Florida. The journey is 70 miles each way.
More information about the Dry Tortugas ferry

Where is the Dry Tortugas?
The Dry Tortugas is a group of small, low-lying islands located 70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. These islands are the true end of the Florida Keys, a chain of islands extending off the southern coast of Florida. The Dry Tortugas are located at Latitude 24.6333° North, Longitude -82.9200° West.
More information about the Dry Tortugas ferry
Where is Fort Jefferson?
Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key among the group of islands known as the Dry Tortugas, approximately 70 miles west of Key West. The navigational co-ordinates for Fort Jefferson are 24.627390 North, -82.872305 West.
More information about the Dry Tortugas ferry
How to get to Dry Tortugas cheap?
There is no cheap way to get to the Dry Tortugas. Distance alone, 70 miles from Key West, makes getting to the Dry Tortugas costly. Daily high-speed ferry service from Key West, the only departure point, costs $165 per adult, plus park admission fee. Daily seaplane flights from Key West, again the only departure point, costs $342 per person, plus park admission fee.
More information about the Dry Tortugas ferry
How long is the boat ride from Key West to Dry Tortugas?
The travel-time, each way, aboard the high-speed ferry from Key West to the Dry Tortugas is 2-hour and 15-minutes.

Events

What Key West events are scheduled for the next 14 days?

Key West’s calendar is packed with events throughout the year, including these monthly highlights:

  • Key West Literary Seminar (January)
  • Old Island Days Art Festival (February)
  • Conch Shell Blowing Contest (March)
  • Conch Republic Independence Celebration (April)
  • Key West Song Writers Festival (May)
  • PrideFest (June)
  • Hemingway Days (July)
  • Lobsterfest (August)
  • Womenfest (September)
  • Fantasy Fest (October)
  • Key West World Championship (November)
  • Lighted Boat Parade (December)
    More Key West Calendar of Events
What time is sunset in Key West?

The table below displays the Key West sunset times throughout the year.

Month 15th 30th
January 6:00 6:11
February 6:22 6:30
March 7:36 7:43
April 7:49 7:56
May 8:04 8:11
June 8:17 8:20
July 8:18 8:12
August 8:01 7:47
September 7:31 7:15
October 7:00 6:48
November 5:40 5:38
December 5:41 5:49
When is gay pride week in Key West?
Key West’s has more than one gay-pride week. These include Key West Pridefest, scheduled for June 6-10, 2018; Tropical Heat, scheduled for August 15 – 19, 2018; and Womenfest, scheduled for September 5 – 9, 2018
More Key West Gay Travel Information
When is Mardi Gras in Key West?
Key West does not have a true Mardi Gras celebration, although a few bars mention it. But Key West is famous for a Mardi-Gras-style celebration, known as Fantasy Fest. This week-long party culminates the last Saturday of October and features a large parade with revelers throwing strands of beads.
More Key West Calendar of Events
When is Fantasy Fest in Key West?
Fantasy Fest occurs at the end of October, culminating with a large parade on Duval Street on the final Saturday of the month.
More about Key West Fantasy Fest

Famous People

Where does Jimmy Buffett live now?
Jimmy Buffett no longer owns a home in Key West, although he does have an unmarked recording studio on the docks of the Key West Historic Seaport, and a famous restaurant and bar named Margaritaville on Duval Street. The last home that he owned in Key West is on Little William Street, in the historic quarter known as Old Town. According to his publicist, Jimmy Buffett currently owns homes in Palm Beach, Florida and the Hamptons of Long Island, New York.
Real World Key West, where are they now?
There were seven cast members of the MTV show Real World Key West, which originally aired in 2006, including Svetlana Shusterman, John Devenanzio (aka Bananas), Paula Meronek, Tyler Duckworth, Zach Mann, Jose Tapia, Janelle Casanave. Today, Svetlana is an artist after her attempts at modeling and acting. John Devenanzio continues to appear on MTV challenge shows and also owns an online t-shirt business. Paula Meronek appeared on nearly a dozen Challenge shows, and today is busy as a mom. Tyler Duckworth appeared on numerous The Challenge TV shows, and today is a freelance-digital consultant. Zach Mann currently works in radio and also as an executive producer of films. Jose Tapia is now an actor and cinematographer. Janelle Casanave is a vegetarian body builder who continues to compete in MTV challenge shows.
More about MTV’s Real World Key West
Where is the Hemingway house?
The Hemingway House, the Key West home of writer Ernest Hemingway, is located at 907 Whitehead Street. This is on the corner of Whitehead Street and Olivia Street, in the historic quarter of Key West known as Old Town.
More about the Hemingway House
Who is buried in Key West cemetery?
Approximately 75,000 people are buried in the 160-year-old Key West cemetery. Some of the most notable people buried here include: two-dozen sailors that died when the ship USS Maine was sank by explosion in Havana Harbor; Sloppy Joe Russell, Hemingway’s fishing guide and barkeep; William Curry, Florida’s first millionare; B.P. Pearl Roberts, who tombstone declares I Told you I was Sick; and numerous others. More about who is buried at Key West Cemetery
Who is Mel Fisher?
Mel Fisher was a marine salvor who for decades searched for the wreckage of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, laden with gold, silver, gemstones, and treasures. The ship sunk off Key West during a hurricane in 1622. Mel Fisher famously declared each morning of the search, Today’s the day. Finally, in July of 1985, Mel Fisher’s team discovered the shipwreck and its bounty, today known as the most valuable shipwreck discovery in history. In July, a celebration of the man and his discovery, Mel Fisher Days, is held in Key West. More about Mel Fisher and the museum documenting his discovery

Climate

What is the average temperature in Key West in December?
The average air temperature in Key West in December is: 77°(F)/25°(C) high, 67°(F)/19.5°(C) low. The average ocean-water temperature in December is 72°(F)/22°(C). More about average Key West air and sea temperature, rain, and climate

Tourist Traps

Places to avoid in Key West?
Key West is a very safe and fun community. Nevertheless, we suggest you avoid the following businesses that unscrupulously prey upon tourists: the crass t-shirt shops famous for overcharging customers; the cruise-ship-port jewelry shops with their overpriced and low-quality gemstones; the shady factory art galleries with high-pressure sales; and most of all, the cosmetic shops on Duval Street – known for their high-pressure sales tactics and wildly-overpriced, over-promised merchandise. More about tourist traps to avoid in Key West

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Top Things to Do in Key West

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