What’s it like to travel alone in the Florida Keys? I absolutely love it! If you’re looking for a tropical escape with warm temperatures and beaches, as well as cool activities and a quirky local culture, I bet you’d love the Keys, too.
The Florida Keys are one of my favorite US travel destinations. These islands live and breathe tourism and as a result, there are tons of interesting things to do from Key Largo all the way to Key West. But if you’d rather relax and chill out, the Keys happen to be great for that, too.
I’ve traveled to the Florida Keys. The first time I went with my friend Cailin. The second time, I traveled solo. And while I enjoy both traveling with friends and on my own, I think the Florida Keys are an especially strong destination for solo travelers.
Grab yourself a plate of hogfish and don’t forget the reef safe sunscreen — we’re off to the Keys, baby!
Kate alone doing a sitting yoga pose on a stand-up paddle board on clear turquoise water in the Florida Keys.
Why Travel Solo to the Florida Keys?
You’re looking for a warm getaway — but you want to do a lot more than lie on a beach. You’re up for some activities and a bit of a party. You’re up for an easy, low-stress destination, but wouldn’t mind some weirdness thrown in. And it would be nice not having to use your passport.
If you’re over 50, you’re in especially good luck. There may be destinations around the world tailored to younger travelers, but in the Florida Keys, there is a huge social scene for people 50 and up. You will definitely find your community in the Keys, especially Key West!
The Florida Keys are reliably warm year-round, making them an idyllic place to escape to in the winter months.
The Keys also make a great road trip choice. It’s about a three-hour drive from Miami Airport to Key West, but you can stretch it out over days, checking out every nook and cranny of this island chain. Lots of people drive one-way but you can round-trip it too.
Just keep one thing in mind — the Keys aren’t one of the better beach destinations in Florida. Most of the islands are edged with protective mangroves, not sand. There are some nice beaches in the Florida Keys, of course (the best one being Calusa Beach at Bahia Honda State Park), but most of the Keys beaches tend to be small.
If you’re looking for long, expansive white sand beaches, you’d be better off heading to Miami, Sarasota, or the panhandle (I happen to love Seaside if you’re up around there).
But that’s okay. You come to the Keys for the activities, the relaxation, and the unmistakable flavor. It’s a destination that chills you out from the moment you arrive.
Florida Keys Map
To get to the lay of the land: The Florida Keys begin on the mainland just south of Miami and continue southward all the way to Key West. They’re joined by an overseas highway that terminates in Key West.
From Miami Airport, it’s about a 75-minute drive to Key Largo, the first of the Keys; it’s a three-hour drive from Miami Airport to Key West. The main airports are located in Miami and Key West.
The Keys are divided into the Upper Keys (generally from Key Largo to Islamorada), Middle Keys (generally from Islamorada to Big Pine Key), and Lower Keys (generally from Big Pine Key to Key West).
Every key has its own personality. Some, like Big Pine Key, are primarily residential areas serving locals; others, like Bahia Honda Key, are sleepy and virtually uninhabited. And Key West really is its own category — there’s nowhere else like it.
My recommendation is to fly into Miami, spend a few days driving down and exploring the Keys, then finishing your trip with a few days in Key West.
Kate in a kitchen, wearing a hair net and plastic gloves, holding two tiny key lime slices.
Making key lime pie in Key West!
Are the Florida Keys good for first-time solo female travelers?
Absolutely! The Florida Keys are a great place to dip your toes into solo travel for the first time. I find that for your first solo trip, it’s good to go to an “easier” destination. Somewhere with a lot of tourism infrastructure where you can speak the local language.And the Keys are that!
Additionally, my favorite thing about solo travel is getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want, without acquiescing to a partner’s needs. No matter what your travel tastes are, you can build a trip in the Keys that fits your personality.
If you want to stay in a resort and lie on a beach every day, you can do that. If you want to snorkel, fish, bike, and boat, you can do that. If you want to party and meet cool people, you can do that, too!
Key West is a good-times-rolling destination, not unlike New Orleans, and people from around the world congregate here to drink cocktails, let loose, and celebrate life!
I find that islands tend to attract oddballs — and I mean that in a kind way — and the oddballs of the Keys will welcome you with open arms. Especially Key West. It has a unique energy.
And in a part of the country where formalwear is your “nicer” denim shorts, nobody will judge you. Unless you show up dressed head to toe in Chanel. Don’t do that in the Keys.
Kate taking a selfie with four Hemingway lookalikes in Key West, all with big white beards and wearing khaki shirts.
I’m surrounded by Hemingways!
Are the Florida Keys good for experienced solo female travelers?
Oh yes, the Keys are great for experienced solo travelers, too. I had been to upwards of 70 countries when I first visited the Keys, and I was thoroughly delighted.
What helped was that I accepted them for precisely what they were — rather than expecting them to be like anywhere else. I wasn’t here to dive into culture or get a medal in travel badassery; I was here to explore, relax, and have a good time.
If you’re an experienced solo traveler, you might enjoy getting off the beaten path a bit more in the Keys.
You might be interested in activities that newbie travelers pass up — think camping overnight at Bahia Honda State Park, taking a seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park, booking a boat to stay in on Airbnb, or even volunteering as a diver with the Coral Restoration Foundation, replanting coral underwater!
And you think you may have seen it all — but then you experience Hemingway Days and the Hemingway lookalike contest at Sloppy Joe’s. It’s one of the most unusual and insanely fun festivals I’ve ever attended! Key West knows how to festival like the best of them, and I would put both Hemingway Days and Fantasy Fest on your bucket list.
Four snorkelers in the neon teal water at Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo.
Snorkeling in Pennekamp State Park
Best Things to Do in the Florida Keys for Solo Travelers
There are so many great things to do in the Florida Keys. This could go on for pages and pages. Here are some of my favorite picks:
Eat all the key lime pie!! Yes, this is where key lime pie comes from. There are SO many good spots, and I’ve sampled about a dozen. In my opinion, the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys is at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, with two locations in Key Largo. But try it everywhere you go — you’ll definitely have a favorite by the end of your trip!
Alternatively, you can take a key lime pie making class at the Key West Key Lime Pie Company.
Go snorkeling in Key Largo. Key Largo is home to John Pennekamp State Park, where you can snorkel through clear waters with tropical fish and even witness an underwater Jesus statue covered with fire coral!
Feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada. Yep, this is a weird one — this restaurant allows you to buy a bucket of tiny fish and feed them to the giant chomping tarpon fish! I thought it was terrifying, but it’s a lot of fun. Watch out for hungry pelicans!
Sample local handcrafted booze from the Keys. The Florida Keys Brewing Company in Islamorada has some delicious beers to try (and available throughout the Keys), while Keys Meads in Key Largo will let you sample lots of meads, the first ever alcoholic beverage, infused with tropical flavors. Yes, both use a lot of key lime!
Visit the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. Here you can take a tour and meet turtles that are being lovingly nursed back to health — sometimes from locations far north of Florida!
Check out Bahia Honda State Park. This gorgeous slice of land is home to the most beautiful beaches in the Keys, including the oft-photographed Calusa Beach.
Check out No Name Pub in Big Pine Key. You’ll find this bar after driving a few miles from the highway — it has a giant sign that reads “YOU FOUND IT!” — and inside, every flat surface is covered with thousands of dollar bills! Worth a visit for photos and the tasty food.
People gathering at outdoor booths for the sunset celebration on the edge of the water in Key West.
Getting ready for the sunset celebration in Key West
Best Things to Do in Key West for Solo Travelers
Celebrate the sunset at Mallory Square. Each night, all of Key West seems to congregate on Mallory Square, cocktails in hand, to watch and celebrate the sunset! Don’t miss Dominique the cat man and his show!
Visit the Hemingway Home and the Little White House. Everyone knows about the Hemingway House, home to Hemingway’s quirky belongings and dozens of descendants of Hemingway’s cats. And while it’s worth a visit, I actually enjoyed the Little White House more — where Truman spent a lot of time during his presidency! Definitely take a tour.
Join a sunset cruise — perhaps a booze cruise… This is THE best way to meet people in Key West! I made so many friends! There are lots of sunset cruise companies, and I enjoyed my trip with America 2.0.
Go nightboarding in a kayak. Grab a lit glass-bottomed kayak and paddle through shallow water, checking out the mysterious night creatures that you never see during the day.
Visit Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is home to seven islands, stunning reefs, Warning, this te
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