From Miami to Key West: 5 Best Ways to Get There
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Located 160 miles southwest of Miami, Key West has the distinction of being the southernmost city in the continental United States. "The Conch Republic," as it's known to locals, is also the most Caribbean-like travel destination in Florida, and it has something of an "anything goes" reputation for its laid-back attitude to, well, pretty much everything.
For these and so many other reasons – a lovely climate for most of the year, plenty of attractions and fun things to do, along with a great food scene – Key West is very much the kind of place you'll want to visit time and time again.
Getting here can be part of the fun, too. While it's accessible via a variety of means of transport, you should certainly take the dramatic US1 Highway at least once. Also known as the Overseas Highway, this spectacularly scenic route offers no end of stunning vistas and great places to stop for a taste of that unique Keys' lifestyle.
For more on this and other best ways to get to Key West from Miami, be sure to read our guide.
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1. From Miami to Key West by Car
The scenery along the Overseas Highway (US1) is simply stunning, with a great deal of this iconic 113-mile-long route (170 if you count the stretch from Miami to the start of the Overseas Highway) being above water.
While the journey takes an average of just over three-and-a-half hours without a break (longer if it's a weekend or rush hour), you'll want to add at least an hour or so extra for photo stops. And be sure to set your satellite navigation just for the thrill of seeing yourself surrounded on all sides by ocean on your digital map!
If you have even more time to spend along this iconic route, consider a stop at one or more of the larger communities along the Florida Keys, some of which offer a variety of great tourist attractions. Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key, for example, boasts two great beaches and the National Key Deer Refuge Nature Center. Marathon is home to the Dolphin Research Center, which offers a variety of unique feeding and swim experiences, as well as the fascinating Turtle Hospital.
If you're not driving your own vehicle, you'd do well to consider picking up a car rental at either Miami or Key West and do at least one one-way journey by road. The bragging rights alone are worth it.
Finally, a word about parking in Key West: it's difficult! A good alternative is to make use of the first-rate Key West Park N' Ride service, located out of the Old Town Garage on Grinnell and Caroline Streets. You can leave your vehicle here for the full day and enjoy all-day shuttle rides around town.
2. From Miami to Key West by Tour
For those vacationing in Miami but wanting to get a taste for the Keys, a Miami to Key West day trip may be just the ticket. Departures are early – around 6am, with pickups available from hotels and other locations – but you can certainly expect a very full day's itinerary on this fun trip (you'll be gone for approximately 13 hours).
A definite highlight is the three-plus-hour drive along the overseas Highway. Along the way, you'll take in popular landmarks such as the famous Seven Mile Bridge. One of the world's longest bridges, this spectacular road bridge still runs alongside the original rail bridge dating from 1912 and is still in use by walkers and cyclists.
All told, you'll cross some 42 bridges and 34 islands on your way to Key West. You'll learn more about these and other interesting facts on your air-conditioned journey through the interesting commentary from a qualified guide.
Once in Key West, you'll have six hours to explore this amazing Caribbean island-city at your own pace. Be sure to also check out the additional tour options available to help you maximize your fun. These include jet skiing adventures and cruises, all of which can be added to your itinerary when booking.
The drop-off/pickup location in Key West is the centrally located Flagler Museum. From here, you can easily access the famous Duval Street, the life and lively soul of Key West. In addition to no-end of great food and drink options, the shopping is superlative.
3. From Miami to Key West by Plane
By far the fastest means of getting to Key West from Miami is by flying. Taking just under an hour for a direct flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Key West International Airport (EYW), the route is served by a number of airlines, including American Airlines.
Although it's a short flight, be sure to factor in additional time at the airports. While there are no customs or border facilities to navigate for internal flights like this, security checks can take some time, especially in the busier travel seasons. Fares cost upwards of $200 depending on the time of year, so be sure to check for any flight deals.
For those for whom money isn't an issue (or who can share the expense among friends or family), private charters also operate along this route. Reputable charter companies worth considering include evoJets and Air Key West.
A more affordable option than a private jet, Keys Seaplanes offer floatplane services that can get you to pretty much any point around Key West - even directly to your resort. They also offer a variety of fun sightseeing flights.
While not an issue in Key West given the airport's proximity to the downtown core around Duval Street – it's only a short ride away – getting in and out of Miami's much larger facility can be more challenging. Since a taxi or Uber ride in Miami can be costly for those traveling in and out of the city, and traffic can be heavy, consider using public transit, such as the efficient Metrorail and Tri-Rail services (buses are available but subject to congestion during rush hour).
4. From Miami to Key West by Boat
While there is no regular ferry service between Miami and Key West, there are still a few different options for those determined to arrive by water. Your best bet is to look into a charter boat. Miami Charters offer a variety of options, from high-speed boats to laid-back sailing yachts, as well as fishing charters.
Worth mentioning for those traveling from the Gulf coast of Florida, the Key West Express offers a daily service to Key West from Fort Myers and Marco Island. Departures are early morning, with return voyages taking place late afternoon.
5. From Miami to Key West by Bus
For those on a tight budget – and who aren't in a hurry (it can take up to five hours) – the regular bus service between Miami and Key West is certainly a good option. Greyhound Lines offer frequent daily departures, including pickups and drop-offs at Miami International Airport and, of course, Key West, for as little as $20 each way.
A smaller bus experience can be enjoyed via Keys Shuttle, which offers frequent daily service between Miami and Key West – as well as regional airports – and most destinations in between.