Floating in the Florida Straits is the picturesque island of Key West, a place renowned for its favourable weather, lively culture, stunning architecture and fascinating history.
As the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, the island counts Cuba, the Bahamas and the mainland of the United States as its nearest neighbours. Throughout the centuries, it has been under Spanish and British rule, before finally being claimed as part of the US in the 19th century.
Key West is a popular cruise destination, appearing on the Caribbean itineraries of cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean International, Disney and Holland America. From snorkelling and diving to shopping and bar hopping, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to onshore activities.
Key West Port is situated on the island’s northwest coastline at 201 William St. There are 3 docking areas: Mallory Square Dock, Pier B (which is privately owned) and the Navy Mole. Smaller cruise ships tend to dock at Mallory Square Dock, while passengers may be tendered in from larger cruise ships anchored offshore. Many of the island’s main attractions are within walking distance.
All the facilities you will need are within walking distance from the dock. Some cruise ships may arrange for passengers to be immediately shuttled into town on disembarking.
Facilities nearby include:
Public transport options.
How to Get Around
Key West can easily be explored on foot, although there are several transport options available, including buses, bicycles, scooters and pedicabs. You can also hop on a guided tour that takes in many of the island’s best attractions, or rent a car from one of the several rental agencies.
Travel times from the port:
It is an 18 minute journey to the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum
It is a 19 minute journey to the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters
It is a 25 minute journey to the Southernmost Point Buoy.
It is a 5 minute journey to the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum
It is a 5 minute journey to the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters
It is a 7 minute journey to the Southernmost Point Buoy.
Currency – The currency in Key West is the US dollar. Coins appear in 1c, 5c, 10c (dime), 25c (quarter), 50c (half dollar) and $1. Banknotes are available in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
Time Zone – Key West operates on Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). During daylight savings, it switches to Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), which is 4 hours behind UTC.
Weather – Key West’s climate can be described as subtropical, with fairly moderate temperatures experienced throughout the year. In August, the temperature generally reaches around 31.8 degrees Celsius, while the coldest temperatures are usually seen in January, which has an average high of 23.9 degrees Celsius. Higher rainfall is typically observed in the months of August, September and October.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum – Located on Whitehead St and built in 1851, this house cum museum was once the residence of famous author Ernest Hemingway. Much of the furniture the Hemingway family used is still kept in the house, while many of the cats who live on the grounds are descendants of the polydactyl (extra-toed) felines that Hemingway kept as pets. Other highlights include the impeccably kept gardens and the large in-ground swimming pool, which was considered luxurious and an architectural feat at the time. The Ernest Hemingway House and Museum is open from 9am till 5pm and a 30-minute guided tour is available to visitors.
Southernmost Point Buoy – While its validity may be questionable, a popular Key West attraction is the painted concrete buoy that claims to mark the southernmost point of the United States. Situated at the corner of South St and Whitehead St, the buoy is not far from the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and has been photographed by countless tourists since its installation in 1983.
Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters – Another piece of the island’s history, the Key West Lighthouse was opened in 1848 and used to assure the safe arrival of ships travelling in surrounding waters. Over the years, the lighthouse went through several upgrades, including the addition of the Keeper’s Quarters. After being decommissioned in 1969, it then became a museum dedicated to showcasing the island’s maritime heritage. Visitors can actually walk up the 88 steps to the very top, as well as discovering the items, photographs and written words of the keepers and their families.