Download GPX file for this article
24.666944-81.544167Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Florida Keys are a region of Florida. Geographically, the Keys are an archipelago of about 1,700 islands extending south and southwest of the Florida mainland. Perennially popular with tourists, retirees, and pleasure-seekers alike, the Keys offer a multitude of sights to experience, landmarks, recreational and entertainment opportunities; not to mention breathtaking tropical beauty and a pervasive laid-back charm.


Map of Florida Keys

Listed from furthest north to furthest south:

Other destinations[edit]


Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

US Hwy 1 leads from Miami to the Keys via the famous Overseas Highway. Local addresses along the keys are marked by mile markers along the highway. The highway through the Keys starts at Mile Marker 0 (MM 0) at Fleming & Whitehead St in Key West to MM 127 at its intersection at W Palm Dr/SW 344th St in Florida City (south of the turnpike). Continuing north, the Mile Markers continue to increase from MM 127 in Florida City to MM 545 at the Florida/Georgia state line 40 mi (64 km) northwest of Jacksonville.

By plane[edit]

The two main airports in the Keys are Key West International Airport (EYW IATA) and the seaplane base on Marathon Key. These are only used by private or VIP aircraft and commercially by American Eagle from Miami International Airport (MIA IATA), and by Silver Airways from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL IATA), which are the closest international airports to the Keys. Shuttle service from both is available with Key West Shuttle (See 'By bus' by below). Most travelers tend to rent cars in Miami or Fort Lauderdale and drive to the Keys.

By bus[edit]

  • 1 Greyhound, (bus station) 3801 W 21st, Miami (Miami International Airport Intermodal (Ground Transportation) Center. Connected to airport terminals by shuttle train.), +1 305 296-9072, toll-free: +1 800 231-2222. Buses serve Key West with two departures per day from Miami, stopping in Big Pine Key, Marathon, Islamorada and Key Largo in the Keys en route. Journey time is around four and a half hours. Passengers transfer in Miami to continue to other destinations. LOW fares to Miami starting from $30.
  • Keys Shuttle, +1 305 289-9997, toll-free: +1-888-765-9997. The company provides door-to-door service between to the Keys from the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airports (and vice versa).
  • 2 Miami Info Tours, (Company Office) 2401 Collins Ave Suite #C3; Miami Beach, +1 305-894-6409. Travel from Miami or Miami Beach to Key West. Hotel pick-up is available from select Miami Beach Hotels and Downtown Miami. Bus Service is available 365 days a year, and rates start from $69.00 for round-trip.
  • Miami to Key West Bus, +1 305 423-9045. Motorcoach transportation services and escorted tours to Key West from Miami.
  • Public Buses, The Lower Keys Shuttle[dead link] operated by Key West Transit provides 9 daily trips between MM 0 in Key West and MM 53.5 (Sadowski & US Hwy 1) in Marathon Key. Cost is $4 for the Lower Keys Shuttle. At MM50 (at Sombrero Beach Rd), you transfer to Miami-Dade bus route 301 Dade/Monroe Express for onward service to Florida City (via MM 74 in Islamorada; MM 87 in Tavernier; and MM 98 in Key Largo). The Dade/Monroe bus operates 10 times daily between 7:30am and 11:00pm from Marathon and more frequent from Islamorada. In Florida City transfer to the #38 bus (Busway/Max)to the Dadeland South Metrorail Station where you catch the Metrorail train into Miami. The Dade/Monroe express costs $2.65 each way. Official Key West page on cross keys transit options [1]

By ferry[edit]

Multiple ferry services are available from Fort Myers to Key West. Most of them are large catamarans that will accommodate 20-30 passengers. Sailing time is about 3 hours.

Get around[edit]

The Keys (at least the accessible, commercial islands) are connected by US Highway 1. A useful and interesting "quirk" about the linearity of the Keys (and US-1) is that directions to establishments and attractions are locally described by the "Mile Markers" along US-1. If you ask someone how to get to a certain beach or hotel, they will tell you that it is at "Mile Marker 68.5"; many signs and brochures will say "MM 68.5" (of course, there is no mile marker 68.5, this just means that the hotel is halfway between mile markers 68 and 69). These numbers start at zero at the start of US-1 on Key West, so the numbers get larger as you go north.

The speed limits in the Keys are generally 45 mph (72 km/h) on the built-up Islands, and 55 mph (89 km/h) on the bridges and less built-up islands. There are areas (very built-up strips, or animal sanctuaries) where the speed drops to 35 mph (56 km/h).

By public transit[edit]

  • Miami-Dade Transit Rt #301 connects Florida City to MM 50 on Marathon Key via Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada. Passengers continue north on the 34 Express or THE 38 Busway/MAX route from Florida City to the Miami Dadeland South Metrorail Station for the rest of the way into Miami.
  • Monroe County Public Transportaton[dead link] operates local bus services within Key West and up to Marathon Key via Boca Chica, Saddleback, Middle Torch and Sugar Loaf Keys. There are no public bus services in the part of Monroe County on the mainland (Everglades NP and Everglades City).


The Keys are not so much a sightseeing destination—people are coming for the beaches. But that's not to say there are no attractions. Several museums are in Key West: the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Audubon House & Tropical Gardens, and the Key West Art & History Museum at the Custom House. Islamorada also has a neat artist colony at Rain Barrel, filled with large, unusual statues.

State parks[edit]

Monroe County applies an additional $0.50 tax to the state park entrance fee. This tax is not covered by the Florida State Park Pass.


The bow of the Spiegel Grove, a ship sunk as an artificial reef

One of the Keys' most popular activities is scuba diving. From Biscayne National Park up to Key West, the dive sites all have nice reefs, tropical waters and a very diverse marine life. Some of the popular dive sites are Spiegel Grove, North Dry Rocks and the USNS Vandenberg.


As you would expect, there is a lot of seafood served in the Keys, but all types of restaurants exist. These include most of the staples of American fast-food, mom-and-pop diners, and many kinds of ethnic fare.

The Florida Keys are the birthplace of Key Lime Pie once made using limes exclusively grown here. Nearly every restaurant will have their own variation of this dessert, and each will be quite different, ranging from super-tart to sickly-sweet.

Another Key specialty is conch (pronounced "konk"), a large mollusk often served in chowder. Conch fritters, small spheres of fried breading and conch, are an appetizer you should try at least once during your stay.


  • Key West - famous bar-hopping town, and former haunt of author Ernest Hemingway

Stay safe[edit]

  • Police/Crime Prevention In an emergency, dial 911 from any phone in the Florida Keys.
  • Visitor Assistance Line, +1-800-771-5397 (+1-800-771-KEYS). Multi-lingual staff are ready to help you with directions and phone numbers to medical facilities and law enforcement offices and much more. The staff work 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
  • Boating Safety In an emergency, dial 911 from any Florida Keys land or cellular phone or contact the United States Coast Guard, via Channel 16, on a marine VHF radio.
  • United States Coast Guard.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, +1 305-289-2320. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is responsible for enforcing safe and environmentally-friendly boating and fishing practices in the Keys. FWC officers patrol docks, bridges and waters.
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, +1 305-292-0311. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary sets regulations for boating and fishing in the Keys and offers safe boating tips. They also provide "Sea Smart" advice for divers and snorkelers.
  • Monroe County Bike/Pedestrian Planner, +1 305-289-2514.
  • Overseas Heritage Trail, +1 305-853-3571. Bicyclists are encouraged to use the Overseas Heritage Trail adjacent to the highway wherever the trail is available.
  • Reef Relief, +1 305-294-3100. This independent group offers the latest science on the dangers of feeding fish and other marine mammals.
  • Divers suspecting decompression illness should seek medical attention immediately at one of the Keys hospitals. The staff at these facilities know how to diagnose and treat the condition and, if necessary, will transfer patients to one of two decompression facilities in the Keys. The U.S. Military operates a decompression chamber in Key West. The other, more often used, facility is in the Upper Keys at Mariner's Hospital.

Medical and hospitals[edit]

Upper Keys

Middle Keys

Lower Keys and Key West

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Florida Keys is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.