Transportation and Travel

Transportation

Getting There…. and getting around town

There are many different forms of transportation to, from and around Key West. From air travel to water travel to ground travel, we’re sure that you’ll find a mode of transportation that will suite your travel needs. Below you’ll find a list of transportation options.

Key West Express

Key West Express

Love to go to Key West but hate the drudgery of the long drive??  Have you ever traveled to Key West by boat?  Here’s something you really need to check out. The “Key West Express” They run 2 really cool high-speed jet -powered catamarans that run out of Fort Myers Beach, FL. They also run seasonal service out of Marco Island (Christmas thru April). The Key West Express operates 7 days a week out of FMB, weather permitting.  Departure is at 8:30 am, but they strongly advise you to arrive by 7:30 am for check-in.  Boarding starts at 7:00 am with last call at 8:00am. (239 463 5733)  Please remember to bring your drivers license!  You can’t get onboard without it. When you call ask for Renee’. She’ll take great care of you.

Pricing varies, but generally speaking, round trip fares are really reasonable.  A round-trip ticket will run you around $150.00 per person. Weekday travel is usually less expensive though.  Sometimes you can find coupons in the local area weekend newspapers offering pretty decent fare discounts, or you can call them directly or check their website. We usually drive from Tampa to FMB and get a hotel room for the night. Waking up early, it’s a quick drive to the ferry terminal which has moved to a new location at 1200 Main Street.  If you’ve been there before, it’s on the right just before the old location at Salty Sam’s Marina.

It’s awesome!!  My wife and I have been traveling on it for years.  The newest “Cat” in the fleet is really nice.  The Key West Express has a fully stocked cash -bar, including beer, wine, mixed drinks, and thank you, frozen tropical drinks. “Louise” is one of the best bartenders on the seven seas!  She makes a killer Bloody Mary and is super nice!  If you didn’t have the time to eat, The Key West  Express offers up a full galley including breakfast sandwiches and bagels as well as burgers, hot dogs and other various snacks and drinks. The trip will usually get you into Key West in about 3½ hours.

There are 2 outdoor decks where you can enjoy the sunshine and let the wind blow through your hair, if you desire. Or you can step inside one of 2 air-conditioned cabins where you’ll find several large LCD flat-screen TV’s (Directv) and seating for over 400 people!  Anyone who’s traveled to Key West on it will tell you, “It’s simply the Best way to travel to Key West”.  After a gorgeous day of sailing through the Gulf of Mexico you’ll dock up in Key West Harbor and begin to enjoy one of the most historic and beautiful places on the face of the Earth and the Southernmost point in the Continental United States.  Check out my list of top 10 things to do in Key West.

Another great tip is you can stay in Key West for the day or stay as long as you want. Key West Express offers its passengers exclusive deals on some of the best lodgings to stay over for a few nights, if you so desire, including  guest cottages, bed and breakfasts, and top hotels and resorts.  Check out my post on best places to stay in Key West.

For the return trip The Key West Express conveniently departs the Ferry Terminal on Greene Street 7 days a week at 6:00 pm – weather permitting.  Again, make sure to arrive one hour early at 5:00 pm.  The boarding on the way back is a little more involved, similar to going through security at the airport, but no big deal.  Another thing that really rocks is on the return trip they allow you to do an early 3:00 pm check-in.  If you want the premium seats on the” Cat “on the way back, early check-in comes in handy after enjoying all the fun that Key West has to offer.  If you do take advantage of the early check-in on the way back, you won’t be able to leave your bags, but not to worry. Paradise Porters will store and deliver your luggage for you. For a few dollars more you won’t have to drag your bags around. They are located across the street from the ferry terminal at 922 Caroline St. (305 293 4000)

Across the street from the ferry terminal, you’ll also find a top notch restaurant called “Dante’s Key West Pool Bar and Restaurant”. (305 293 5123)  They are located at 951 Caroline St. They have a huge saline pool with a cascading waterfall  and you can enjoy beverage service poolside. Dante’s also serves up a full menu that will make your mouth water.  From appetizers to the freshest “catch of the day”, including a raw bar and kid’s menu, there is surely something to please your palate. They also have a DJ or live music 7 days a week and sporting events on 17 TV’s. Happy hour is Monday thru Friday from 4 till 8 pm. It’s a great way to cool off from the hot sun.

. When it comes down to it, in today’s economy, you can’t beat the Key West Express for their overall value, service and just the sheer fun of traveling to Key West with your friends or family. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way after you have experienced the fun and ease of traveling to Key West by sea. You won’t want to drive there ever again.  I’d like to get your feedback and hear about your experiences with the Key West Express. I’ll add them to my website good or bad. I’m sure you’ll find that it’s simply the Best way to travel to Key West!

 

Airlines

There are several airlines that offer service into Key West. Most of the airports that offer service into Key West are located in Florida. However, Atlanta’s Jackson-Hartfield International Airport, for example, operates non-stop service via Boeing 737 aircraft as well as their regional partners Express Jet which offer jet service for 50 passengers or so. You can get to Key West from practically anywhere. When I lived in Boston, I flew to Miami, then rented a car and drove on down. The drive from Miami is about 4 hours or so. It’s worth doing at least once. It’s a beautiful, scenic trip. If you don’t want to drive and you don’t mind changing planes in Miami, you can hop on a small turbo- prop and be in Key West in less than an hour.

Many commercial airlines offer travel to and from Key West.  Four are considered “major. ” airlines and two are smaller, local airlines.  Delta Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways are the main carriers. Cape Air, which operates out of Fort Myers, Fl. offers service on smaller propeller-driven aircraft. American Air Lines service into Key West is operated by American Eagle Airlines, United Airlines is operated by Silver Airways. You should always check with your local airport to see who offers what service to your destination well in advance of your trip.

Most of the connecting flights are going to run through Miami as are international flights. You can also connect out of Naples, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando and Atlanta. You can also fly to just about anywhere in the world from Key West.(Courtesy of Expedia.com)

 

Bus Station

Here are some ways to get to and around Key West by bus or by shuttle services that are offered.

Key West Greyhound Lines  @ Key West International Airport  3535 S Roosevelt Blvd  Site 104 305-296-9072   KWGS is open 365 days a year. Call for details or click on the link above for more detailed info.

Key West City Transit Bus  627 Palm Ave 305-809-3910

Bone Island Shuttle  1805 Staples Ave  305-293-8710

Key West Airport Shuttle @ Key West International Airport  855-679-0041

Trailways  P/U @ Mel Fisher Museum  200 Greene St (This is only a road stop. No Sales.

 

Car Rentals

Most of your car rental agencies can be found at Key West International Airport.

Avis  3495 S Roosevelt Blvd  305-296-8744

Budget  3495 S Roosevelt Blvd Unit J  305-294-8868

Dollar  3495 S Roosevelt Blvd  Unit H  305-296-9921

Enterprise Car Rental  2516 N Roosevelt Blvd  305-292-0220

 Thrifty  3495 S Roosevelt Blvd  877-283-0898

 

Campgrounds and RV

You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to camp out with RV than Key West. Here are a few links to help you find a campground that might suite your needs.

Boyd’s Key West Campground  6401 Maloney Ave  305-293-9301

Leo’s Campground  5236 Suncrest Rd  305-296-5260

 Sugarloaf Key Resort KOA Kampground  MM20 Sugarloaf Key  305-745-3549

Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson Ferry

Grassy Key RV Park and Resort  58671 Overseas Highway MM57.7  305-289-1606

 

Driving Directions

Driving anywhere these days can be a chore, especially with the price of gasoline and people generally want to get some where as fast as possible. But, If you have some extra time, I highly recommend driving through the scenic and historic Florida Keys.

First – the pros and cons of the drive to Key West.

Pros:

Experience one of America’s “great drives.”  Appreciate that Key West’s isolation and place at “the end of the road” is a large contributing factor to making Key West special.  Take your time at a slower pace as you travel “south of reality” and ease yourself into “island time.”  Chance to visit many good places to eat and drink, plus quirky tourist stops. Travel at your own leasure / Fairly low-cost if you do two one-way rentals. In the event of a traffic incident that closes US-1 for a period of time – Relax! Get out of your car and talk to your ‘new’ neighbors. A traffic tie-up creates a temporary community of sorts that will never exist again. Make the most of it… It’s the Key’s way to deal with it.

Cons:

Figuring pick-up and drop-off time plus drive time you’re looking at approximately four or more hours behind the wheel each way / US-1 is VERY heavily patrolled by both the Monroe County Sheriff’s Dept and the Florida Highway Patrol… The best description of the Florida Keys can be summed up like this… Think of the Keys as a single city with a population of 85,000. What makes it unique is that this ‘city’ is appoximately 110 miles long by 1/2 mile wide makiing US-1 ‘Main Street’. People constantly get on and off, some driving just a couple of blocks to the gas station. Accidents on US-1 can close traffic in both direction for hours. Speed limits bounce between 55 and 45 miles per hour. On your first time to Key West, the trip down can be exciting but the trip back can be less so, especially if you’ve said goodbye to Key West enthusiastically the night before. Many people feel that the drive is good once but won’t do it again while others view it as taking the time to get into the proper vacation mode… A tradition of sorts.

The drive from MIA to Key West in a nut shell:

Once you get your car, look for 836 WEST. Smoothly merge and manage your way over the the Left lane and look for 826. The exit is on the left about two miles from the airport. Once you’re on it, everything will make sense. 836 turns into 874 and then merges with the turnpike… stay on the turnpike… It’ll peter out to US-1 in Florida City. Follow the traffic… It’ll lead you right to Key West! Total Turnpike cost: $3.00.

As for the experience. The first half hour of your trip will be a typical US highway experience. Once in Florida City, you have a choice to make. Take Card Sound Road which will come up on your left. (The much hyped Alabama Jacks is located just past the $1.00 toll booth on your right) or stay on US-1 for the 18 mile stretch. It’s kinda neat. You’ll pass the southern tip of the Everglades although there is a lot of construction for the next 1.5 years with trucks entering and leaving the highway. Expect the stretch to take you about 1/2 hour for the 18 miles. Once off the stretch, welcome to the Florida Keys. You’re on Key Largo! (Don’t bother looking for Boggy and Bacall… It’s not half as romantic as it sounds) If you’ve taken Card Sound Road, you’ll also be joining US-1 on Key Largo. Make up your own mind but you might find the next few miles to be a boring collection of strip plazas, gas stations and souvenir shops. It’s time to take notice of the mile marker signs. Key West is basically at Mile Marker 0 so you know how much more you have to drive. At Mile Marker 85, you will be crossing the Snake Creek. This is where it starts to get fun. From the top of the draw-bridge, you can see both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic for the very first time. From there on (until Marathon) it gets quite a bit ‘Keysey’.  Feel free to stop at any place along the way for refreshments etc. Keep on until you run out of road… Welcome to Key West! The trip will take between 3.5 and 4 hours without stops. Be prepared for an occasional blockage on US-1 for an accident. It happens but not as often as you may fear. Stay strictly to the posted speed limit (or within 5 miles over if you’re feeling frisky). US-1 is patrolled by both the Monroe County Sherrif’s and the Florida Highway Partol. (Sheriffs: White cars with green strips, FHP: Black cars with tan roofs.) Both love to get ya!

Below a mile marker by mile marker trip guide to make it more pleasurable. Just as an aside… The Florida Keys are made up of over 1700 islands, 32 are inhabitated and by the time you get to Key West, you’ll have crossed 42 bridges.

Big traffic tip while driving on US-1: Tune your radio to FM 104.1 – US-1 Radio. Classic rock and current road conditions all along the highway will keep you updated on what’s happening down the road. (US-1 can start to be received around Islamorada)

Other radio stations: Talk radio out of Miami is 610 AM and out of Marathon, AM 1300

A great description of the Florida Keys is like this: Think of them as a single, unique city with a population of about 85,000 that’s 110 miles long by 1/2 mile wide. That would make US-1 ‘Main Street’. Expect cars to get on, go a few blocks and get off at the grocery store or gas station. Drive sanely, drive safe. Click on the link below to see a cool video about the drive from Key largo to Key West, courtesy of You Tube and Florida KeysTV

http://youtu.be/dDmBtMuHZac

Here’s a run-down on some of the points along the way by mile markers: (Full version can be found at http://www.keyshistory.org/MileMarker…  By Jerry Wilkenson)

126.0 = End/Begin two-lane “18 Mile Stretch.”
118.0 to 121.0 = Four-lane passing zone
112.5 = MONROE COUNTY LINE – Leave Dade County if southbound.
107.2 = Jewfish Creek drawbridge. Exit/enter Key Largo. Begin “18-Mile Stretch.”

106.5 = Card Sound Bridge turnoff to/from Ocean Reef via CR 905 Oceanside. Also an alternate route, $1.00 bridge toll, northbound to Homestead.
104.1 = Caribbean Club, gulfside. The set for the 1948 movie Key Largo was modeled for this location.
103.4 = Marvin Adams Waterway Bridge (The Cut), a canal that connects Atlantic to Florida Bay
102.0 = Telephone microwave towers, gulfside
95 to 100 = This was the early community of Rock Harbor. A small railroad depot was also here.
91.0 = Tavernier Creek Bridge; enter Islamorada; Tavernier Creek Marina, Plantation Marina, gulfside
90.05 = End 4-lane highway if going south.
85.5 = Snake Creek Draw Bridge; Coast Guard Station, gulfside Enter Windley Key
84.2 = Theater of the Sea; Holiday Isle Resort oceanside.
84.0 = Whale Harbor Bridge.
79.8 = Tea Table Relief Bridge.

79.1 = Tea Table Channel Bridge
78.0 = Indian Key Bridge.

77.1 = Lignumvitae Bridge
72.8 = Apogee of Channel #2 bridge
71.4 = Apogee of Channel #5 bridge
70.0 = Fiesta Key KOA and FKAA pumping station
67.5 = Long Key State Park, Oceanside
64.0 = Middle of Long Key Bridge, If southbound, entering the Middle Keys.
61.2 = Tom’s Harbor Cut Bridge
60.6 = Tom’s Harbor Channel Bridge
59.9 = Enter/leave City of Marathon
58.9 = Grassy Key, Dolphin Research Center
56.2 = Curry Hammock State Park
54.5 = Begin/end 4-lane
53.1 = Vaca Cut Bridge, entering the business district of Marathon next 8 miles.
52.0 = Marathon County Airport, bayside
47.0 = Begin/end of Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon City limits. To Pigeon Key ( old 7-Mile Bridge), gulfside. Pigeon Key visitor’s center
44.8 = Pigeon Key, gulf side
40.0 = End/begin Seven Mile Bridge
39.5 = Missouri-Little Duck Channel Bridge
39.0 = Ohio-Missouri Channel Bridge
38.7 = Ohio- Bahia Honda Channel Bridge
37.0 = Begin/end a short section of 4-lane highway.
36.8 = Bahia Honda State Park entrance, oceanside.
36.0 = Bahia Honda Bridge (4-lanes) old railroad camelback bridge, oceanside
35.0 = End/begin 4-lane
33.0 = Spanish Harbor Bridge west end. This potion cut away for good cross-section view.
30.2 = Big Pine Key traffic stop light; gulf to Key Deer Rd. and

29.3 = North Pine Channel Bridge
28.1 = Little Torch Key.
28.0 = Torch Channel Bridge
27.7 = Torch-Ramrod Channel Bridge
26.6 = South Pine Channel Bridge, east end of bridge, oceanside
27.0 = Ramrod Key.
26.0 = Niles Channel Bridge, middle.
25.0 – 24.0 = Summerland Key community
23.5 = Kemp Channel Bridge, east end of bridge, oceanside.
20.2 = Bow Channel Bridge to Sugarloaf Key.
18.6 = Upper Sugarloaf Key
18.8 = Park Channel Bridge
17.8 = North Harris Channel Bridge
17.6 = Harris Gap Channel Bridge
17.5 = Lower Sugarloaf Key
16.3 = Harris Channel Bridge
15.8 = Lower Sugarloaf Channel Bridge
14.6 = Saddlebunch #2 Bridge, Bay Point Subdivision entrance, Oceanside
14.3 = Saddlebunch #3 Bridge, Saddlebunch Shrs./Bluewater Dr., ocean.
13.1 = Saddlebunch #4 Bridge
12.8 = Saddlebunch #5 Bridge
11.4 = Shark Channel Bridge
11.2 = Shark Key
11.0 = Big Coppitt Boat Ramp, oceanside.
10.0 = Big Coppitt Key
9.7 = Rockland Channel Bridge
9.2 = East Rockland Key
8.4 = Begin/end 4-lanes
7.0 = Back gate to NAS, closed, oceanside
6.1 = Boca Chica bridge, middle

5.0 = Stock Island
4.1 = Cow Key Channel Bridge and bear right for
3.9 = Traffic light. End/begin 4-lane. Bear left for Flagler Street; Airport; Martello Towers, Higgs Beach and Casa Marina. Bear right for N. Roosevelt; Truman Avenue, Old Town, Fort Taylor
3.0 = Sears Town shopping plaza
2.3 = Salt Run Bridge, N. Roosevelt, Key West
1.7 = Palm Ave; U.S.C.G. Group; NAS Trumbo
1.0 = About South Street
0.0 = Court House; Key West – This proves that for every ending, there is also a beginning.

You can also find a variety of audio tours to play on your car stereo as you drive through the Keys, which point out attractions and historical sites by mile marker.  These can be a great way to pass the time, and make sure you don’t miss anything along your way!

Limos

If limousine service is what you’re looking for to, from, and around Key West, here are a few links to get you started.

Look Limo Service  3706 N Roosevelt Blvd  305-393-3593

Key West Limos Inc.  6300 3rd St  855-539-9333

Airport Limousine Van Service  6631 Maloney Ave  305-294-5678

 Keys Limo.Com  7 1st St  305-294-2800

Key West Tours    888-328-1279

Visitor Info

Parking in Key West can be very limited. With the total area of Key West being only about 4 miles by 2 miles, you can expect this to become a slight issue. There are some pay lots around town and some street parking as well. we always try to find lodging close enough to were we like to hang out so that we don’t need to have a car. There are alternate modes of transportation around the Island including; bicycles, scooters, electric cars, and of course, walking. The parking lots around town charge an average of 20 dollars per day, which runs from around dawn till around 4am. Street parking will cost around 2 dollars per hour. Here’s a good link for a more detailed look at where to park your vehicle, scooter or whatever you’re driving courtesy of whatsatfloridakeys .com   http://www.whats-at-florida-keys.com/Key-West-Parking.html

IMG_0177IMG_0179IMG_0189IMG_0190

 

Taxi Service

If you’re in need of transportation on the Island, “Five 6’s Cab Company” will get you where you need to go any time of day or night. Friendly Cab Company, (305-292-3333, 305-292-0000, 305-292-1111) and Key Lime Cab Company are other choices you may want to check out if you wish to. If you’re flying into Key West, you’ll find taxi cabs everywhere around the airport. Get a business card from one of them and they’ll be more than happy to be your personal pick-up service. If you are around the 200 block of Duval St, there’s a taxi stand directly in front of Rick’s Bar. If you’re staying in town for any length of time, your property manager will be more than happy to call a taxi for you.

 

Bike, Scooter, Electric Car Rentals…Etc.

It’s really easy and convenient to rent Bicycles, scooters and electric cars in Key West. Rental locations are everywhere on the Island. Here are a few to get you started.

A and M Rentals Key West   2 locations  (305-896-1921)

Bike Rentals Key West  (305-295-7777, 800-733-5397)

Bike Man Bike Rentals   5 locations  (305-587-1783)

Blue Sky Rentals    805 Duval St (305-896-0583)

Conch Electric Cars of Key West    100 Grinnell St (305-294-0995)

Eaton Bikes   830 Eaton St (305-294-8188)

Island Bicycles    529 Truman Ave  (305-292-9707)

Moped Hospital    601 Truman Ave (866-296-1625)

Pirate Scooter Rentals    401 Southard St (305-295-0000)

SunShine Scooters   3 Locations  (305-294-9990)

Tropical Bicycle and Scooter Rentals    1300 Duval St (305-294-8136)

 

 

 

Map of Key West

Here’s a cool map that will help you navigate your way around Key West.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Transportation and Travel

  1. I work at Key West Express, and would like to thank you for your blog. Our sentiments mirror one another. We are very passionate about our boats, our service and Key West! Happy passengers are the reason we have been operating for 17 years! If you haven’t already signed up for our newsletter, I encourage you to do so. We occasionally have some fabulous specials! (and great group rates too!)

    • Thanks Kathy. I appriciate the kind words. My wife and I have been traveling with you all for many years. And we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. You all do a professional job and it makes the experience that much more enjoyable. We can’t wait to have the opportunity to sail with you all again!

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