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Useful information for excursions in and around Key West
In the following, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in and around Key West.
The most beautiful sights in Key West
The city of Key West is located on the island of the same name at the western end of the Florida Keys. Key West is an absolute highlight in the course of a cruise. The city is known for its many bars on Duval Street, for the wonderful sunsets every evening on Mallory Square and the Ernest Hemingway House, as well as numerous other cozy wooden houses with veranda and garden. You’ll quickly immerse yourself in the unique charm of Key West. In addition to great restaurants and cafes, there is a lot more to experience on the island: Museums invite you, for example, to discover the exciting history of Key West. The region around Key West is also a paradise for anyone who enjoys diving or snorkeling due to its crystal clear waters.
The Florida Keys are a chain of over 200 coral islands in the southwest of Florida. The region is a very popular holiday destination because of its diversity and various activities. Many tourists make a detour from Miami just to visit it. A total of 40 of the islands are connected by 42 bridges. The route belongs to the most picturesque travel routes of the USA. From Miami, one reaches the beginning of the Floridas Keys in approximately one hour. From there it takes about 3 hours on the Overseas Highway to the end of the island chain. During the 290 km long trip, not only the nature changes, but each island also has its own highlights to offer. On Marathon Key, for example, you can visit the world’s only turtle hospital of its kind. Among the greatest sights is the museum on Pigeon Key, and the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge, where you have the feeling of driving on the water. Arrived at the end of the Overseas Highway, you reach the southernmost point of the USA in Key West.
The historic quarter of Key West
The historic quarter in Key West is enchanting with its pastel-colored wooden houses, green gardens, small galleries and restaurants. The most famous building in this area is the house of the writer Ernest Hemingway. The US Nobel Prize winner in literature lived here for around 10 years with his second wife and his cat “Snow White”. Today the Hemingway House is a private museum in Key West. During your visit, you can not only admire the house but also play with the descendants of Snow White. What’s special about them? All of the cats carry the polydactyly gene, which means that some cats have formed six toes!
Mallory Square is a well-known square in downtown Key West and is also located directly on the coastline. Hundreds of tourists arrive every evening at the historic pier to celebrate the sunset. Surrounded by jugglers, fire-eaters, gymnasts, popcorn sellers and other colorful characters, this cheerful spectacle takes place against the backdrop of the unique sunset. Various bars and food stalls round off the evening’s offer.
Duval Street is a popular shopping street in Key West. The street is also a district of famous restaurants and bars such as Sloppy Joe’s, Bull & Whistle, Rick’s Café and Irish Kevins Bar.
The most famous sight at the south end of Duval Street is the Southernmost Point. Seen continentally, it is the southernmost point of the USA, only 145 kilometers away from Cuba. The Southernmost Point monument is a colorful concrete mark in the form of a buoy, in front of which a photo is a must when visiting Key West. Also the sign of the beginning of the U.S. Route 1, the “U.S. Route 1 Mile Marker 0” is an equally popular photo motif.
Also on Duval Street is Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory – a butterfly zoo with over 50 different butterfly species and other small animals such as birds and turtles. In the building, there is a learning center where visitors can observe caterpillars and watch a short film.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is the southernmost park in Florida and can be visited for a fee. The fortress was built in 1845 and served as a coastal fortification until 1947. To this day it houses the largest collection of guns from the time of the US Civil War. There is also a museum in the park showing restored excavations.
You’ll also find one of Key West’s most beautiful beaches at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Due to its shallow depth and outstanding water quality, the beach is very popular with swimmers and snorkelers.
Key West Lighthouse
A breathtaking view over Key West can be enjoyed from the historic Key West lighthouse. It was built in 1825 and over 120 years ago lighthouse keepers piloted ships through the coral reef off the island. Climb the 88 steps and enjoy a great view. With a bit of luck, you may also see large red iguanas in the treetops.
Trumans Little White House
An important part of Florida’s history is also linked to Truman’s Little White House. The former naval base and then residence served as a retreat for several presidents. Probably the most time President Truman spent here is from 1946 to 1952, when the American President has repeatedly withdrawn here to rest and relax. Other famous people who visited the Little White House are Kennedy, Carter or Clinton. Today, the Little White House is a museum that is open to the public and educates about the past and present. However, it is still temporarily closed sometimes for government purposes
Key West Museum for Art and History
The Museum of Art and History was once a customs and post office building and was built in 1891. Today, the museum houses approximately eight exhibitions that revolve around the background of Key West’s role in the Cold War: the construction of the railroad or Key West as a US Navy location, among other things. Especially interesting is the exhibition about the famous writer Ernest Hemingway. Around the building, there are several huge sculptures by Seward Johnson
Map of the cruise port in Key West
Key West has a total of three berths. For larger cruise ships, the berth at Pier B is usually used, from where it is only a few minutes walk to the center of Key West. Mallory Square is the last stop for smaller cruise ships. This berth is located directly in the historic Old Town district and is known for the so-called “Sunset Celebration”. If there are more than two cruise ships in Key West, the berth U.S. Navy Base’s Outer Mole is used. Since it is located in a military restricted area and you are not allowed to walk there, a free shuttle bus (organized by the city) will take you to the centrally located Mallory Square.
You can inform yourself in advance about the planned berth of your ship.: Key West Cruise Ship Calendar
Things to know for shore excursions in Key West
Itineraries and Routes
Key West is a popular destination and an integral part of Caribbean cruises. The German cruise companies unfortunately no longer have Key West in their program. However, numerous international cruise companies continue to sail to Key West at high frequency, including Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Holland America Airline, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
Entry and Visa
To enter the USA, you need a valid passport and a valid electronic entry permit (ESTA). The application for the ESTA has to be done online before the start of the trip and costs about 14 US dollars. If you only have a temporary passport, you will need a visa.
To be on the safe side, we recommend that you get information about all valid entry regulations directly from your cruise company and from the Federal Foreign Office in good time before your cruise.
The national currency of the USA is the US dollar (USD). Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in the USA and are therefore almost indispensable. In addition, you can easily withdraw cash with your credit card at an ATM. Alternatively, you can exchange money in advance or use one of the exchange offices. Please note, however, that you often have to pay high fees here.
Taxi and public transport
Taxis are always available in Key West, but they are not used by most, as the berths are centrally located in the city center. Taxis all go by taximeter.
Key West is a great place to explore on foot. If you still want to take the bus, there are different bus routes: blue, green, red and orange. These routes cover Key West and part of the Lower Keys. Prices are based entirely on the route you wish to travel. For a one-way trip in the city of Key West, for example, you pay about 2 USD, a day ticket costs only 4 USD, which is why it’s worth it to buy a day ticket when you plan on taking two or more buses. The so-called Super Pass, which completely covers Key West and the Lower Keys routes, costs 12 USD for a whole day. Please note that you must pay appropriately. More information about the exact routes and prices can be found on the Key West Travel Guide.
Alternatively, you can explore Key West with a jingling train (the so-called Conch-train). The ride takes about 90 minutes and you will pass several places of interest. You will learn all about the history of Key West and get a good overview of the city and island.
You can also explore the city on your own by bicycle. Several bike rental stations in the city center offer a good starting point.
Florida is inviting the whole year with sun and warm temperatures. Key West attracts tourists even in the winter with an average temperature of 24 to 27° C. The best travel time for Key West is from November to April/May, as the temperatures are pleasantly warm and the water temperature encourages you to swim. Key West is located in the Atlantic hurricane zone. During the summer months, hurricanes can occur and the rainy season is also during these months.
Cruise ships sail to Key West all year round.
Port operator and touristic organization website
Video: Impressions from Key West
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