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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Key West in 2024 (Our Take)

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Key West in 2024 (Our Take)

What's the best time to visit Key West?

Spring (March-May) offers warm, pleasant weather and fewer tourists, making it perfect for enjoying activities like snorkeling and sailing. Avoid spring break for a quieter visit, but don’t miss unique events such as the Conch Republic Independence Celebration and the Key West Songwriters Festival. This season provides an ideal mix of good weather and manageable crowds.

Key West, an island off the southern tip of Florida, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state and a great place to take in that laid-back Florida mentality.

It’s a popular destination for lovers of water sports, such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing. The town itself feels a world away from the bustle of the United States, with pastel pink houses and plenty of conch shells everywhere.

The beautiful island has been a popular getaway for many famous artists, including Ernest Hemingway, making it a cultural destination as well.

When you visit Key West, you want to get that quintessential beach town experience since that is the whole point of coming. Below, we’ll show you the ideal times to visit for the best beach bum lifestyle.

Overall Best Time to Visit Key West

Empty wooden footbridge in between palm trees leading to the calm Smathers Beach, one of the best things to do in Key West, on a lovely sunrise

Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Key West is during the spring (March-May), which has warm but pleasant weather, and the crowd situation is more manageable.

Like the rest of Florida, Key West has a tropical climate. Since the island lies so far into the Caribbean Sea, it makes sense that it would have warm temperatures with plenty of rain, affected by weather patterns over the sea.

From March to May, temperatures are warm but not yet unbearably hot. Average high temperatures in March are around 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while May is much warmer, at about 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Early spring is also one of the least rainy parts of the year in Key West, which is significant since its tropical climate means that it gets a lot of rain all year round.

The weather during this time is perfect for all of the activities you can do around Key West, such as:

  • Snorkeling
  • Scuba diving
  • Sailing
  • Fishing

Spring is also one of the shoulder seasons in Key West, which means that you can avoid many crowds. The exception is spring break, which brings many partying college students to town.

If you want a quieter vacation, avoid visiting Key West during spring break times for popular nearby universities, but if you are looking for lively nightlife, this is a good time to go. Spring sees plenty of events, like any other time in Key West, but these tend to be more low-key than those held during peak season.

Many are held during spring break, which is another reason to brave the crowds during this week. Popular spring events in Key West include:

One of the best spring events is the Conch Republic Independence Celebration, a quirky festival that happens in April and shows off the island’s humorous mentality.

After all, it was founded after residents responded to a dispute with US Border Patrol with a declaration of independence. Today’s festivities include dance parties, sailing trips, pub crawls, and more.

Cheapest Time to Visit Key West

Sloppy Joe's bar pictured on Duval Street during the cheapest time to visit Key West

Daniel Korzeniewski/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Key West is during the fall, from September to November, when hurricane season and other factors reduce prices. Traveling during the fall will require one additional travel expense—travel insurance.

This is hurricane season in the Caribbean, and since Key West is so far south (only 90 miles north of Cuba), it gets battered by storms frequently.

You need trip insurance to avoid losing all of your money if a storm disrupts your travel plans. However, the cost of basic trip insurance will be offset by your massive savings if you travel in the fall.

This is the least expensive time for booking a hotel in Key West since demand is so low. In September, many hotels offer discounts, some as much as 40%. Prices do rise around some holidays later in the season, such as Fantasy Fest, but they don’t reach peak season levels.

Getting to Key West costs the same all year long if you’re planning on driving. However, if you’re flying, then the prices vary by time of year.

Usually, you can get good flight deals in May, August, and September. If you want to visit Key West on a cruise, spring or fall is your best choice. Prices tend to drop in September after the summer demand for cruises is over.

Least Busy Time to Visit Key West

Street with little shops pictured outside the resorts for a piece on the least busy time to visit Key West


The least busy time to visit Key West is also during the autumn, from October to mid-December, when the lack of major holidays and hurricane season keep tourists away.

As mentioned above, Key West is vulnerable to hurricanes, and early autumn is peak hurricane season in the Caribbean. Unlike spring, which has Spring Break and Easter, autumn doesn’t have any major holidays when people get time off work besides Thanksgiving.

Things tend to be pretty quiet around town until mid-December. A good way to check if there will be crowds is to look at the cruise ship schedule.

Most of Key West’s crowds come from cruise ship day trippers, which sometimes frustrates locals. The fewest cruise ships are scheduled in April and May, followed by September and November. The weather during this time is a bit of a gamble.

If a tropical storm hits, expect lashing winds and pounding rain, but you can also get a week of nothing but sunny weather. Temperatures are going down to more manageable levels, and the ocean is warm enough to swim in even in November.

Locals organize fun festivals during the autumn, which started as a way to try and get some business during the slow season. Expect more people around these festivals, but crowds are more fun than panic-inducing.

If you want complete peace and quiet, avoid these events. The most popular fall festival is Fantasy Fest, a week-long event at the end of October celebrating Halloween with elaborate costumed parades and parties.

Worst Time to Visit Key West

Rainy day during the worst time to visit Key West pictured with a palm tree at the end of a wooden dock leading out into the ocean with a rain cloud above it

The worst time to visit Key West is the summer, because the weather is very hot and there are a lot of people around. Summer in Key West is very hot and humid.

Average high temperatures in July average 89 degrees, and even at night temperatures rarely dip below 80 degrees. The high humidity makes it feel even hotter.

This is also one of the rainiest seasons to visit Key West, with rains peaking in August and September. The summer is also one of the most crowded times on Key West. Many families use the time off from school to go on a vacation.

There aren’t as many visitors on the island itself as during the winter, its peak season (you may even be able to find some good hotel deals). However, this is one of the most popular times for cruise ships, and the small island isn’t built to receive several cruise ship’s worth of passengers a day.

However, there are always some positive things to look forward to when visiting Key West, even during hot, sticky summer.

This season has some of the most fun festivals of the whole year, such as Key West Pride. Although the temperature on dry land is unpleasant, the temperature of the ocean is bathtub-warm, perfect for swimmers that don’t like the cold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Neat view of the colorful teal water with lights on it in Key West pictured during dusk during the best time to visit


Here are just a few common questions we’re asked to help you pick the best time to visit Key West:

What is the best month to go to Key West?

The best month to go to Key West is May, which has beautiful weather, warmer ocean temperatures, and fewer crowds.

What is the least expensive time of year to go to Key West?

The least expensive time of year to go to Key West is the fall, especially early fall during hurricane season. You can get good bargains until mid-December.

How many days do you need in Key West?

You need at least three or four days in Key West. You want to explore all the coral reefs, the historic homes on the island, and have plenty of time to relax.

Does Key West have a rainy season?

Key West has a rainy season like most tropical destinations. Its rainy season lasts from June to October, coinciding with hurricane season.

Can you swim in Key West all year?

You can definitely swim in Key West all year. However, many people find the water from December to April a bit chilly.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Key West?

A spring trip to Key West is the perfect relaxing getaway. You’ll enjoy warm temperatures, perfect swimming conditions, and a relaxing atmosphere. Once the September rains are over, fall is also pleasant, with the benefit of lower prices and fewer crowds.

So, with so much to see and do and plenty of amazing times to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Key West has to offer. Happy travels!