Crystal clear water, powerful rum drinks, and some of the best fishing in the world. While the Florida Keys have changed a lot in the past 30 years, there is still plenty of quirky charm in the southernmost city in the US.
The tradeoff for another day in paradise is that it often comes with a hefty price tag.
How much will you spend on a trip? This depends heavily on when you go and where you stay. Our experts have checked out current rates to see what your Florida Keys vacation might cost.
Average Trip to Florida Keys Cost in 2023
A week in the Florida Keys will cost around $4,600 for two people:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $350 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $500 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $100 per person, per day
- Transportation: $450 per week
- Total Cost: $4,600
These rates are a general estimate based on rates quoted throughout the Keys. What you will pay will depend on where you stay and when you go. A bed in a hostel in the off season will cost less than a waterfront luxury room during the Keys’ busiest time.
Also, changing travel patterns can have an effect on the actual rates you’ll pay. During the years of the pandemic when international travel wasn’t permitted, the Keys didn’t have a slow season.
With people able to travel more freely, more travelers are choosing other places instead, meaning more vacancies and even a few deals.
We’ll show examples of food, activities, rooms and other costs working with different budgets. Looking them over can help you figure out what you’ll pay for your personal slice of paradise,
Florida Keys Trip Cost: Average by Item
These costs can give you an idea of where to start when planning a Keys vacation. Compare a few options to see which one will work best with your budgets and your tastes in vacations.
You can often save a bit of money by going with the locals’ options. Tiki drinks, for instance, aren’t a big thing in the Keys except with tourists, and you’re likely to pay tourist prices.
Go for simpler tropical rum drinks to save a bit. Likewise, you can save money by eating a few meals at any of the excellent local Cuban restaurants, but will pay a premium for items like out-of-season spiny lobster.
Pick and choose what is important to you and what you feel will make a memorable trip.
This is likely to be your biggest cost. The Keys are a string of small islands, and there are only so many rooms to go around. Play around with your dates to see if you can find deals.
You are also likely to spend a little less if you go for mellower destinations like Marathon instead of insisting on a room right on Duval. Even in highly desirable Key West, there are some deals to be had if you are okay with very basic lodgings.
The Seashell Motel Hostel in Key West often has beds available for $100 to $150 a night. They offer dormitory-style lodgings.
If you have an RV, quick fingers, and a long stretch of time before your trip, you may be able to find a campsite in the Florida Keys.
Be aware that these tend to be booked out as long as a year in advance and sites are booked as quickly as they become available. An RV site with full hook-ups will cost around $100 per night.
On the other end of the spectrum are posh rooms in highly desirable spots.
A room on the water at the Margaritaville Beach House Key West will cost about $350 a night. The hotel has a pool, gardens, and spacious rooms. It’s within a few miles of attractions like the Ernest Hemingway House and the Key West Aquarium.
The only commercial airport actually in the Keys is in Key West. A flight there from New York costs around $500. While there is an airport in Marathon, it only accepts private flights.
You may save some money flying into Miami. There are often flights there from New York as little as $150 round trip. This can be a viable option if you are staying in the Upper Keys, but more tedious if you are trying to travel from Miami to Key West.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
This is an area where flexibility can save you money. Eat like a local and you’ll be able to enjoy good meals without breaking the bank. One of the best restaurants in Key West is also one of the most affordable.
Head to El Siboney for fantastic Cuban food any time of day. You’ll pay under $10 for a Cuban sandwich or up to $20 for a plate of ropa vieja. If you feel the need for frozen cocktails, check out a few locations.
The chain Fat Tuesday is the best known, but not the best deal. If you walk just a few blocks down Duval, you can get your drinks for a few dollars less at Flying Monkeys, which is locally owned.
Expect to pay around $10 per drink and to have choices that include frozen margaritas, orange creamcicle, and chocolate-banana drinks.
While the Keys are more of a liquor and cocktail destination, there is an excellent brewery in Key West, The Waterfront Brewery. Have a cold beer for around $5 a pint, then head back out to watch the tarpon and nurse sharks from the docks.
A genuine rum runner from the bar that invented it will cost around $15. Food prices are about average for the Florida Keys, with a basic burger running you around $20.
The upper and middle Keys often have some happy hour specials that can bring costs down. Florida Keys Steak and Lobster has a $7 happy hour menu with good portions of appetizers.
Dockside Grill and Marathon Ale House share a happy hour menu with many offerings between $5 and $10. There are a number of attractions with admission prices between $15 and $30. Expect to pay about $30 per person to visit the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.
A ticket to the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West costs about $20. The Southernmost Point is free to visit. Be aware that there will likely be a line to get a photo next to it if you go in a busy time of year.
Mallory Square has a number of free performances around sunset. These include live music, a long-running cat circus, magic acts, jugglers, and more. Watching is free, but tips are highly appreciated.
Anywhere you go in the Keys, you are likely to see tropical fish feeding in the clear water. The Marathon Public Boat Ramp has a particularly long sea wall that’s great for a free aquarium show.
The Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary houses a number of local birds that cannot be released into the wild. Admission is on a sliding scale basis.
It is free to walk down the Old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. However, if you want to explore the island or use the restroom facilities, you will need to pay the $25 admission fee.
If you are only visiting Key West, you can probably get around without a car. The length of the entire island is only four miles, so you can easily cover this by foot.
If you want to go from key to key, your best bet is to rent a car. You can pick one up at the Key West airport for around $350 a week. If you have a way to get up to Islamorada or Marathon, check rental rates in both those places, as they are sometimes cheaper.
You can also take taxi services within Marathon and Islamorada. Island Taxi Company’s rates start at $8 a trip. If you want to take a taxi from the Middle Keys to Key West, expect to pay at least $150 for the trip.
If you are visiting Fort Myers or Marco Island, a day trip to the Keys via ferry is an option. The Key West Express offers a round trip ticket for just under $200.
You can save around $50 by booking at least eight days in advance. They also occasionally offer half price tickets. Sign up for their mailing list to be notified when they have a sale.
Things to Consider
Here are some things to note to reduce the total cost of a trip to the Florida Keys:
- Free parking is rare in Key West. Most of what is free is reserved for residents. You will get a ticket if you park there. Budget some funds for daily parking spots, which can run as high as $20 per day.
- If you want to take the ferry to the Dry Tortugas, book your tickets well in advance. They sell out early.
- Do not book a vacation home with someone you saw advertising on Facebook or craigslist. Vacation rentals in the Keys are tightly regulated and thus uncommon. If you see one offered casually by an individual, it is likely a scam.
- If you are staying in Key West, look for accommodations in Old Town. This is the original downtown area. New Town is located near the edge of the island, and has a bunch more generic “tropical” resorts.
- A lot of people ponder just sleeping in their cars when visiting the Keys. This is illegal and local cops are pretty strict about enforcement. You may just be asked to leave, but could walk away with a $300 ticket for overnight parking.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest time to visit the Florida Keys?
September through November is typically the cheapest time to visit the Keys. However, be aware that this is often the hottest.
The latter half of hurricane season also tends to be the most active, with the most severe storms. Make sure you have travel insurance in case your trip to the Florida Keys is affected by adverse weather.
How many days do you need in the Florida Keys?
Plan to spend about a week in the Keys, especially if you are visiting multiple areas of the Keys. Bear in mind, the major destinations are hours apart. If you plan to go from Key Largo to Key West, expect to spend two to three hours on the road if you drive straight through.
Is Key West or Miami better?
It all depends on what you want out of your Florida vacation. Key West is an older city, with more quaint, historic charm. Miami is a large, lively city, with a lot of bars and restaurants, but also a lot of traffic.
If you want to go to the beach, you will probably prefer Miami, as the Florida Keys are not known for their beaches. If you want to enjoy a quirky, historic town, you may prefer the Keys.
Is it worth driving to the Florida Keys?
It depends on how much time you have for your trip and where you are driving from. The drive through the Everglades and Homestead, Florida is a worthy attraction in its own right.
After all, it has lots of lush greenery, sightings of wildlife like turtles and alligators, and quirky farm stands along the way. However, just the drive from Key Largo to Key West is over two hours. If you are trying to do all your driving in a single day, you may find the trip tiring.
So, What Is the Average Trip Cost for the Florida Keys?
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$350 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$500 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$100 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$450 per week|
|💲 Total Cost||$4,600|
Expect to pay about $4,600 to spend a week in the Florida Keys. You can spend a bit more for a Duval Street revel or a bit less if you stick mostly to free and low cost activities in the Upper Keys.
So, with so much to see and do, and the ability to visit this picturesque destination on most budgets, what are you waiting for — book your trip to the Keys today!