Everyone should visit the subtropical Florida Keys at least once — but when’s the right time to go? See the best time to visit Florida Keys for warm, sunny weather, cheap hotel rates, and smaller crowds in our jam-packed travel guide.
Learn about the Keys and what each island has to offer, from world-class shipwreck diving and laid-back island vibes to colorful communities and costumed festivals.
We’ll show you the perfect time of year to visit the Florida Keys no matter what your goals for the trip are.
If you want sunny skies perfect for relaxing on the beach, off-season rates that make your stay cheaper, or smaller crowds with a little less hubbub, we’ve got you covered with the best time to visit Florida Keys.
Why You Should Visit Florida Keys
The Florida Keys – Key West, the Lower Keys, Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo – are favorite destinations for travelers in search of something different.
With the motto “Come as you are,” the Florida Keys prides itself on a mixture of anything goes and laid-back living with plenty of sunshine, ocean air, and natural beauty to draw you in.
Here’s a look at what makes each part of the Keys special – this will help you decide where you want to spend your stay!
Key West is the most famous and visited island in the Keys. As the southernmost point in the United States, it’s closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. Key West has earned a bit of a wild reputation where anything goes, but it still has plenty of relaxation to offer visitors.
Steeped in history with Bahamian, Cuban, and modern American culture, Key West has been home to a laundry list of celebrities and a thriving LGBTQ+ community.
Amazing diving offshore, great restaurants and bars (you’ve gotta try the key lime pie), a bustling arts scene, and tons of fun events throughout the year make it an ideal destination for those who want a peek at the unique Key West lifestyle.
The Lower Keys is a group of smaller, slower-paced islands (Big Pine Key, Summerland Key, Big Torch Key, Little Torch Key, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, Big Coppitt Key, Saddlebunch Keys, and Stock Island) that are all about natural beauty and outdoor fun.
The Lower Keys is home to 2 national wildlife refuges, a beautiful state park, and world-class snorkeling and diving. There’s even a 210-foot wreck and living coral reef to check out off Big Pine Key!
Families and boaters really enjoy Marathon, which is a 10-mile long island chain in the middle of the Keys and home to Vaca Key, Fat Deer Key, and Grassy Key. This section of the Keys pays homage to the historical fishing roots of the island chain and the locals here really love their seafood!
You’ll find lots of private accommodations, waterfront homes, and family resorts in Marathon. Seafood festivals, deep sea fishing trips, and the freshest daily catches are here in Marathon.
Islamorada is another angler’s paradise, and it’s where saltwater fly fishing and backcountry sport fishing were honed to an art. It’s made up of 6 islands: Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Indian Key, and Lignumvitae Key.
You can learn the craft of saltwater fishing under experienced professional guides in Islamorada, whether you want to fly fish the flats for bonefish and snook or cast out into the deep to catch a giant sailfish.
Museums, marinas, great diving and snorkeling, and Theater of the Sea (marine mammal park) are all here for your enjoyment.
Last but definitely not least, Key Largo is the northernmost island in the Keys and closest to South Florida’s 2 major airports. Key Largo is home to 2 state parks, a national park, amazing tropical hardwood trees and lush greenery, and creeks that wind through the island.
You’ll find a totally unique underwater hotel in Key Largo, along with great diving (it’s nicknamed the Diving Capital of the World), snorkeling, nature trails, and fishing opportunities wherever you look.
You can even dive a 510-foot scuttled Navy ship offshore in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!
All the Keys offer something a little different to visitors — Key West with its gorgeous beaches and a celebrated wild side, the Lower Keys with their natural beauty, Marathon and Islamorada with famous fishing and fresh seafood, and the “Diving Capital of the World” Key Largo with its 3 state and national parks and lush, subtropical scenery.
With so much to take in at the Florida Keys, what’s the perfect time to go to enjoy your stay? See the best time to visit Florida Keys below.
Overall Best Time to Visit Florida Keys
- December-May is the best time to visit Florida Keys
- Highs in the mid 70s to mid 80s with very little rain
- Peak season for the Keys, so book early
The overall best time to visit Florida Keys is from December to May, which is the peak tourism season here. You’ll experience near-perfect weather conditions at this time of year with the stormy hurricane season finally at an end.
Expect glorious highs in the mid 70s to mid 80s and very little rainfall from December to April. In May, temperatures warm up a little more and the chances of rain increase slightly as hurricane season nears in June.
But you’ll still see mostly sunny skies with mild temperatures that make relaxing on the beach, biking and walking around the keys, and checking out local shops and restaurants perfect.
Events are hopping at this time of year with something going on nearly every week. The Key Largo Boat Parade (December), The Southernmost Regatta (January), Key Largo and Islamorada Food & Wine Festival (January), Key West Food and Wine Festival (January), and the Original Marathon Seafood Festival (March).
But wait — there’s more! There’s also the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March), Conch Republic Independence Celebration (April), Afro Roots World Festival (April), and Key West Songwriter’s Festival (May), which are all fun events to look forward to during this period.
Prices on hotel rooms will be higher during this time (December-May) due to the big increase in tourists while the weather is perfect with negligible storm chances. But it’s worth the extra cost and crowded conditions to experience the Keys at their best!
Cheapest Time to Visit Florida Keys
- June-November is the cheapest time to visit Florida Keys
- Key West Pride causes rates to surge for a week
- Hot, humid, and rainy with highs in the 80s-90s
The best time to visit Florida Keys on a budget is from June to November. This is the summer and fall season, which are the off seasons in the Keys due to increased rainfall and sweltering temperatures from the low 80s to the upper 90s.
With the exception of the week-long Key West Pride celebration in early June, you’ll find some of the lowest hotel rates of the year during this period.
September and November are the absolute cheapest months to visit, but there’s a reason for that. Mid-August to October has the highest chance of hurricanes, and September is historically the rainiest and most active month for hurricanes in the Keys.
Visit in November for rock-bottom prices, lower chances of a hurricane during this stormy season, and more manageable highs in the low 80s. For festivals and events, there’s not as much going on during the steamy summer as you’ll find in the winter and spring.
But Key West Pride (June), Key West Brewfest (August-September), and adults-only Fantasy Fest (October) are all happening during this period if you’re looking for things to do.
Least Busy Time to Visit Florida Keys
- March-May, September-November are the least busy times
- Smaller crowds, lower prices, and mild temperatures
- Watch out for hurricane season and increased rain at times
The best time to visit Florida Keys without the big crowds of peak season is from March to May and September to November.
From March to May, winter’s boisterous crowds thin out as hotter temperatures and increased chances of rain hit the Keys. You’ll run into fewer tourists this far south during the spring, which makes hotel rates a little lower (though it’s still technically part of the peak season).
In fall (September-November), crowds are even smaller and better for those looking for a laid-back trip to the Keys. During the fall, the Keys are still in the hurricane season, which runs from June to November.
You’ll deal with a lot more rain at this time, especially in September (the rainiest month of the year here) and October.
If you can brave the increased chances of hurricanes, tropical storms, and major rainfall, the Keys are nice and uncrowded in the fall with cheaper hotel rates to sweeten the deal.
They host events like the Original Marathon Seafood Festival (March), St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March), Seven Mile Bridge Run (March/April), Conch Republic Independence Day (April), and the Key West Brewfest (August-September).
But they also have the Florida Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival (September), and adults-only Fantasy Fest (October). Each one is fun to check out while you’re here if you don’t mind the slightly bigger crowds at these events!
Worst Time to Visit Florida Keys
- July-September are the worst time to visit the Keys
- Hottest temperatures, lots of rain, and high humidity
- Hurricane season with increased storm chances
We’ve looked at the best time to visit Florida Keys, but what about the worst? That’s typically July through September, which are the hottest months of year down here and some of the rainiest and stormiest periods in the Keys.
The only saving grace of going at this time of year are the cheaper rates on hotels, but with so much rainfall and higher chances of destructive hurricanes and tropical storms, most will find it’s just not worth it to travel from July to September.
Highs surge into the upper 80s and 90s during this period, which is also the most active part of Florida’s hurricane season.
Since the Keys jut out into the ocean, they’re more vulnerable to hurricanes. You’re better off visiting outside of hurricane season (December-May) to enjoy better weather, fewer storms, and milder temperatures.
More Things to Consider
What else should you know to make sure your trip to the Keys is as perfect as you’re imagining? Keep these travel tips in mind to make the most of your stay:
- Consider the 10 Keymandments while you’re there. From choosing eco-friendly transportation (walking and biking) to helping capture invasive lionfish (they’ll show you how) while you dive or snorkel the waters around the keys, the Chamber of Commerce requests that visitors take their 10 “keymandments” to heart while vacationing here. Check out the full list here.
- Check out events and festivals that will happen during your stay. With so many things planned throughout the year down in the Keys, you’ll want to find out what types of festivals and events will be going on where you’re headed. The Florida Keys Calendar of Events is a great place to start, and check back often as new events are added!
- Key West is generally more expensive. If you’re in search of a more budget-friendly getaway, you might want to consider Key Largo, Marathon, Islamorada, or the Lower Keys. They generally offer more affordable accommodations than Key West, where you can expect to pay upwards of $175/night. You can still find great deals in Key West during the off season in summer (except for June when Key West Pride takes place). Check out the best places to stay in Key West here: 15 Best Hotels in Key West in 2022.
- The Overseas Highway drive is gorgeous. While flying directly into the Keys is faster, taking the scenic Overseas Highway in is cheaper and much more beautiful. This 113-mile highway takes you from the mainland all the way down to Key West, and if you drive the entire highway, you’ll cross 42 bridges along the way. It’s the ultimate road trip and we highly recommend driving in.
- Check out the only living barrier reef in the U.S. Off the shores of Key West, you can dive the only living barrier reef in the United States – talk about a bucket list activity! Take a quick boat ride from Key West, rent some diving or snorkeling gear, and get ready to be amazed at the colorful wildlife and reef formations underwater here.
- You’ll need at least a week to explore all the Keys. If you want to explore all 5 regions of the Keys (Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys, and Key West), you need to plan at least a week-long stay. Preferably a week and a half, but if you plan your itinerary tightly, you’ll be able to see a lot in a week.
- Avoid Fantasy Fest if you’re bringing the family. Key West’s annual Fantasy Fest costume party takes place for 10 days in October – and it’s definitely adults-only. Expect some nudity, raucous drinking, a lot of loud partying, and a wild crowd that won’t be appropriate for families with kids or more conservative adults. Plan your stay another time if you’d rather avoid it, and know that Key West after dark anytime of year tends to get a little wild.
- Cell coverage is spotty in the Keys. Think about it – you’ll be in the middle of the ocean, so it makes sense that cell service is going to spotty while you’re in the Keys. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and we think you’ll enjoy the chance to unplug and really enjoy the natural beauty and activities going on here! Make sure to download directions and maps you can access offline so you don’t get lost while traveling to and around the Keys.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Florida Keys?
Overall, the best time to visit Florida Keys is from December to May when the weather is perfect, hurricane season is behind you, and temperatures hover around 75F-85F.
It’s the absolute ideal time to relax on the beach, take in fun events and festivals, and spend time snorkeling and diving in the warm waters around the Keys. December-May is the peak tourism season, so prices will be higher and crowds are unavoidable.
You can minimize crowds by visiting smaller islands and paying a little more for more private accommodations around Marathon or Islamorada.
The Cheapest Time to Visit
The best time to visit Florida Keys on a budget is from June to November, which is also the hurricane season here. You’ll deal with hotter temperatures, more rain, and increased risk for hurricanes and tropical storms.
But hey, that’s what keeps the prices so much lower. September and November are the absolute cheapest months to stay, but hurricane risk is higher at this time.
The Least Busy Time to Visit
The best time to visit Florida Keys without big crowds is March-May and September-November. Springtime is more pleasant with less rain and cooler temperatures than fall, but you will see the fewest tourists if you visit in fall.
Since it’s the tail end of hurricane season, the weather is wilder from September to November and it gets pretty rainy.
The Worst Time to Visit
The worst time to visit is generally July to September, which are the hottest months of the year and fall smack dab in the center of hurricane season. You’ll face a lot of rain, humid conditions, and sweltering temperatures if you visit during this period.
We recommend waiting until November, when prices fall and rain tapers off, or going in springtime instead for a more pleasant visit.
The Florida Keys hold a special magic that the mainland just can’t compete with. The subtropical climate, island vibes, and colorful culture you’ll find down in the Keys make it truly unique and worthy of a visit.
Whether you’re heading down to relax and enjoy the laid-back side of the Keys, spend time with the whole family exploring the ocean and harbor towns, or are looking for a fun place to let down your hair in a tropical setting, the Keys has something for everyone.
Check out these helpful travel guides next to start planning your perfect Florida vacation!