Florida Keys holiday highlights

Still-temperate waters, vibrant coral reefs and a playground of marine life make getting out on the water the best pastime on the Keys. Fort Taylor Historic State Park in Key West is the coolest spot to hang out with tropical fish, gorgeous soft sands were brought in from the Bahamas to build beautiful Smathers Beach and Higgs Beach is the place to head to for paddle boarding, kayaking and seafood dining with ocean views. Islamorada’s St Anne’s is the idyllic beachy location of Netflix TV series Bloodline and Cheeca Rocks is the perfect spot for parrotfish and turtle spotting.

Duval Street in Key West unveils the quirkier side of town; drinks at iconic Sloppy Joes; sunset celebrations on Mallory Square as acrobats and sword swallowers perform; attempts to snap a photo with the famed wild roosters that freely wander; and a trip to Ernest Hemingway’s Home & Museum to see six toed-cats.     

Where is Florida Keys?

In south-eastern United States, the Florida Keys are about 15 miles from Miami and sway from Florida’s southern tip in a chain of islands, with the Gulf on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Highway One is the one lane road that connects them with a string of 42 bridges. Key West is the southernmost city, just 90 miles from Havana, Cuba.

Getting around

Key West is only two miles wide and four miles long, so it’s easily walkable. There’s also the option to hire bicycles or take a taxi. If you are on a self-drive holiday, Florida Keys is accessible from Highway One, and a seaplane or boat transfer if heading to Little Palm Island. The Duval Loop is a complimentary bus service taking you through sixteen stops in the historic quarter of Key West.

Food & drink

It’s all about calypso tunes and catch-of-the-day dinners in the Florida Keys. Expect fusion cuisine from the neighbouring Caribbean and that famous Key Lime Pie for breakfast, brunch and dinner. You’ll find taco shacks and clam bars; raw bar cafes and sushi restaurants; and palm-lined fine dining estates and casual bars with light snacks and live music. Hit rum bars on Duval Street, sip margaritas on the beach and try Florida Keys Brewing Company’s beer garden in Islamorada for house brewed Kambucha.

Florida Keys key facts

Time difference

GMT -5 hours

Currency

US Dollar ($)

Flying time to destination

10 hours

Language

English is the official language, although many other languages are widely spoken in certain cities and communities. America has its own written US English spellings.

Passport & visas

  •   Brits must have a full 10-year British Passport that's valid for six months after you return to the UK.
  •   You will also need a USA visa or waiver form/ESTA. Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling (http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).

Voltage & electricity

The domestic electrical supply is 110V, 60 cycles AC. Sockets are for plugs with two flat pins.

Florida Keys good to know

Tipping

Tipping is an established and accepted custom in America. For good service, waiters and taxi drivers expect 15-20%, and counter and bar staff 10-15%. Porters can expect from $3-$5 per case, while tour guides can be given the equivalent of £2-£3 per day.

What to wear

Florida is warm all year round but light jumpers or jackets are useful during the winter months, especially in the evening. If you are going to be visiting the theme parks then a hat and comfortable shoes are a must. In the Everglades you will want long sleeves and trousers to avoid being bitten. Strong closed toe shoes are also a must.

Public holidays

  • 1 January: New Year's Day

  • Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  • Third Monday in February: Presidents Day

  • Last Monday in May: Memorial Day

  • 4 July: Independence Day

  • First Monday in September: Labor Day

  • Second Monday in October: Columbus Day

  • 11 November: Veterans Day

  • Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

  • 25 December: Christmas Day