The 1,700 islands forming the Florida Keys are on the very southern tip of Florida just south of the Miami. Known for its crystal clear waters and amazing natural beauty, the Keys are a great place to vacation. Unlike the Florida mainland, the Keys are very unique with respect to what it offers as well as the things to do.
As Florida vacation connoisseurs and frequent travelers to the Keys, here are the answers to many of the questions that we get asked on a regular basis about vacationing in the Florida Keys.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are there beaches in the Florida Keys?
While not typically known for its sandy coastline, there are a number of great beaches in the Florida Keys which offer vacationers a great place to relax and catch some rays. And since the average annual water temperature is more than 80 degrees, the winning season lasts all year.
Some our favorite Florida Keys beaches include:
- Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key
- Sombrero Beach in Marathon
- Harris Park, Key Largo
- Higgs Beach, Key West
It is important to note that a number of the beaches in the Keys are man made but that does mean that there are any less desirable that those in Miami or Naples.
Is the Florida Keys a Family-Friendly Vacation Destination?
Although mostly know for its fishing, diving and partying, the Florida Keys is a great destination for a family vacation as there is so much for kids to see and do including animal encounters, glass bottom boat tours, and historic sites.
Some of our favorite family-friendly things to do in the Florida Keys include:
- Snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has some of the best snorkeling in North America. There are a number of boats that take visitors out into the open water – make sure you see the Christ of the Abyss Statue.
- Dolphin Research Center: The research center includes a number of interactive dolphin experiences and is located in Grassy Key.
- Theater of the Sea: Located in Islamorada in the central Keys, guests can swim with the dolphins and see a sea lion show.
- Dry Tortugas National Park: Located west of Key West, this national park is accessible only by boat or seaplane so getting there is part of the fun.
What is the weather like in the Florida Keys?
The weather in the Florida Keys is warm and sunny due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream and the Gulf of Mexico. The Keys has a mild tropical climate where the winter temperatures are around 75 to 80 degrees and average summer temperatures are in the 90’s.
The following table from FloridaKeys.com shows the average monthly low and high temperatures at the Key West airport.
|Average Key West Temperatures|
|Average Low||Average High|
Where are the best places to fish in the Florida Keys?
The Florida Keys has both off shore and on boat fishing offering great experiences for both the novice and the experienced angler.
- Marathon Hump: Florida Keys deep sea fishing at its finest is located at the Marathon Hump approximately 27 miles southeast of Marathon. This “hump” ranges from around 500 to more to 1,000 feet in depth and is very popular with the charter boats. This area is home to Blue and White Marlin, Mahi, Whaoo, Tuna and Sailfish.
- Shipwrecks off Key Largo: The Duane is located at a sandy bottom off Key Largo in 120 feet of water. Bottom fishing includes Grouper, Snapper and Amberjack. The Bibb is also a dive site where anglers are required to tie up to a mooring buoy to fish.
- Bahia Honda Bridge: Some of the best Tarpon fishing is located in the 15 to 25 feet of water off the Bahia Honda Bridge in the lower keys. Tarpon well over 100 pounds are frequently found in these waters along with Mutton Snapper, Sheepshead, and Hammerhead Sharks.
- Key West Flats: Fishing in the flats of Key West is one of the most popular spots in the Florida Keys as the island is surrounded by Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, and more. This area is perfect for fly fishermen but make sure you get a local guide to point out the best spots.
Where are the best places to scuba dive in the Florida Keys?
From wreck diving to exploring some of the most beautiful natural reefs, one of the most popular activities in the Florida keys is scuba diving. Some of the best places in the keys to scuba dive include:
- Christ of the Abyss / John Pennekamp
- Stargazer Reef Sculpture
- USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg
- USCG Duane
- USS Spiegel Grove
Where are the best places to watch a sunset in the Florida Keys?
There is a sunset celebration every night in the Florida Keys. Although our favorite place to watch it is from one of the many sunset charter boats, these places are some of the best if you want to remain on dry land.
- Mallory Square, Key West
- Sundowners, Key Largo
- The Island Fish Company and Tiki Bar, Marathon
- Lorelai Cabana Bar and Restaurant, Islamorada
- Sunset Pier, Key West
What are the best restaurants in the Florida Keys?
The Florida Keys is known for some of the freshest seafood in North America as well as their famous Key Lime Pie. Here are some of the best places to dine in the Florida Keys.
- The Fish House, Key Largo
- Lorelai Cabana Bar and Restaurant, Islamorada
- Cehf Michael’s, Islamorada
- Barracuda Grill, Marathon
- Blue Heaven, Key West
- Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House, Marathon
- Square Grouper, Cudjoe Key
- Prime Steakhouse, Key West
Can I fly into the Florida Keys?
Visitors to the Florida Keys can fly into a number of commercial airports including the Key West International Airport and the Florida Keys/Marathon International Airport. There is also a private airport located at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
Some of the major airlines fly into Key West which include:
- American Airlines (from Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York)
- Delta Airlines (from Atlanta and New York)
- United Airlines (from Newark and Chicago)
- Silver Airlines (from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa)
What are some of the best hotels and resorts in the Florida Keys?
From Key Largo to Key West, the Florida Keys is home to some of the best luxury hotels and resorts in the states. Some of the more popular luxury resorts in the Florida Keys include:
- Hawks Cay Resort, Key Largo
- Cheeca Lodge & Spa, Islamorada
- Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Key Largo
- The Pier House Resort & Spa, Key West
- The Casa Marina Resort (Waldorf Asoria), Key West
- Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key
- Tranquility Bay Beachfront Hotel & Resort, Marathon
- Ocean Key Resort and Spa, Key West
What are the best museums and historical sites in the Florida Keys?
The Florida Keys is home to some of the best museums and historical sites featuring the rich history and lifestyle of living in the Florida Keys.
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
- The Key West Lighthouse
- Crane Point Museum and Nature Center
- The Key West Shipwreck Museum
- History of Diving Museum
- Fort Zachary Taylor
- The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
- The Truman Little White House
- Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas National Park
- The Oldest House Museum
When is it lobster season in the Florida Keys?
There are currently two lobster seasons in the Florida Keys. The two day “mini season” is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July while the regular lobster season is from August 6th to March 31st.
When is Hurricane Season in the Florida Keys?
Hurricane season formally starts on June 1st and ends November 30th, but the height of the season is from August 15th to October 1st.
Visitors can travel to the Florida Keys during hurricane season and historically speaking, the chances of a hurricane hitting the Keys is statistically unlikely.
However, if a hurricane is heading towards the Keys the local emergency management officials will let visitors know if there is a need to evacuate long before travel conditions become hazardous.
How far is Key West From Miami?
Key West is approximately 160 miles from Miami and driving there will take typically about 3 hours without traffic. However, traffic getting out of Miami as well as on US Highway 1 in the Keys can be difficult during peak hours so plan accordingly.
If you are not visiting with a personal vehicle, there is bus service by Greyhound and GO Bus, the Keys Shuttle (van service), and flight services to the Key West International Airport.