Key West vs Key Largo solo?

Key West vs Key Largo Solo: Ultimate Guide From A Solo Female Traveler! (2024)

Are you planning a solo vacation to the beautiful Florida Keys but can’t decide where to go?

Both destinations offer lots of activities, beaches, natural beauty, tropical waters, and adventures on land, on the sea, and below the sea!

I have to tell you upfront: I LOVED Key West as a solo traveler (so I may be a bit biased). The town is laid-back and village-like, a great place with an amazing atmosphere, lots to do, lovely local cuisine (try the key lime pie!), bars, and shopping.

I also enjoyed Key Largo, which does not really have the town center you find in Key West. Instead, you find scattered holiday homes, hotels, water sports, marine life, and nature experiences.

So, you have a vibrant but low-key villagy social sphere in Key West and the more tranquil stretched isle of Key Largo. Let us compare a little more.

Affiliate disclosure: I only recommend tours, services and purchases I know and love on this website.

Key West vs Key Largo Solo

Key West vs Key Largo. The spectacular seven-mile beach in the Florida Keys leading over to Key Largo.
The spectacular seven mile beach in the Florida Keys between Marathon and Big Pine Key heading down to Key West

Key Largo is the first of the Florida Keys you hit when you leave the mainland and is only around one and a half hours away from the Metropol of Miami, which is convenient.

This is definitely an advantage to the almost four-hour drive to Key West; you can easily organize a road trip with a rental car. But then you will miss out on a spectacular road trip across the seven-mile bridge between Marathon and Big Pine Key heading down to Key West.

Although a lot more tranquil than Miami, Key West is still famous for its vibrant nightlife, a plethora of activities, an art scene, and the southernmost point in the entire US. This is where the United States ends.

Looking For An Active Vacation? Choose Key West!

Going the plank on Schooner Wharf Bar in the Key West night
Pirate going the plank on Schooner Wharf Bar in the Key West night

Key West is sooooo niiiceeee!

I just instantly fell in love with the laid-back yet urban mixed vibe in Key West.

As a solo female traveler, I loved the tranquil atmosphere, classic southern houses, lovely gardens, a stunning marina with boats and restaurants, and bustling bars from 10 am!

You want to go to the Key West Marina to see the sunrise, or sunset – or both.

Fun Things To Do In Key West

Key West offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, from snorkeling and diving to kayaking, paddleboarding, and wildlife adventures.

For an unforgettable experience, plan a top-rated group day trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles west of Key West. This tour is pricey, but it is an all-day tour, and if you are a large group it can be perfect.

Scuba diving in Key West is also really good.

I went with a small group to scuba dive on the wreck of the Vandenberg, a 500 ft ship that was intentionally sunk here to become a new reef. It is a massive sight, overgrown with corals and home to several morays.

Sharks often hang around the sides of the ship, and we passed by one chilling in the “sun” on deck.

This dive is for advanced divers only, as you go to 100 ft, but for open-water divers and snorkelers, there are other dive sites with amazing coral reefs at shallower depths to be explored.

Or go jet skiing if you like things fast and furious.

Bike and scooter rental shop in Key West on a bright summer day with red and white scooters lined up outside the front porch.

You can also rent a bike or a scooter and go exploring around Key West at your own pace or join a bicycle tour. This small town is not big at all, and you can make your own itinerary for your time here.

Stop to visit one of the rum distilleries, Ernest Hemingway’s house, which is now a museum, and for freshly squeezed juice in one of the cafes.

Key West has many super charming cafes and shops that offer organic healthy foods, and the juices and smoothies are amazing!

It turns out (I did not know this) that Key West is also a haven for anyone into energy healing, tarot, or alternative medicine.

You can get your reading done or get a new crystal or a set of tarot cards at one of the scent-filled shops on Duval Street.

Or get a massage in one of the day spas in the Old City for a really good time.

Sunset catamaran tour in Key West with snorkeling

For an unforgettable sunset experience, take a sunset cruise, a trip that I loved. Or head to Mallory Square, where crowds gather each evening to watch the sun dip below the horizon in a dazzling display of colors.

This southernmost island gem in the US also happens to be home to the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere. Visit the historic Fort Jefferson, which was built in the 19th century to protect the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re looking for a more laid-back way to discover the island, take a leisurely stroll through the charming neighborhoods of Old Town.

You’ll discover incredible, well-kept, colorful Victorian mansions, quaint cottages, and lush tropical gardens at every turn!

With so many activities to choose from, Key West is the perfect destination for travelers who want to stay active and explore the island’s natural beauty!

Prefer A Laid-Back Vacation? Go For Key Largo!

Kayaking tour in Key Largo, the Florida Keys.

Known as the “Diving Capital of the World,” Key Largo boasts some of the best reefs and wrecks for scuba diving and snorkeling.

There is no town center in Key Largo; in fact, there is not really a “town” at all, as the key is long and narrow with hotels, restaurants, and activity services scattered on the sides of the road passing through.

So, to love Key Largo, you should love staying at a seaside hotel where you can chill and relax and enjoy embarking on water and beach activities, of which there are plenty in Key Largo!

Things To Do In Key Largo

In Key Largo, you can also enjoy a sunset sail aboard a catamaran, a nice family picnic, or head out on a kayak tour trying to spot the incredible manatees and other wildlife at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park!

These slow-swimming, gentle creatures, also called “sea cows,” can be admired in several nature parks in southern Florida state, not just John Pennekamp.

If it is on your bucket list to go kayaking with manatees in Florida, you can venture out to visit any of these places.

Take in the scenery of Florida Bay and views of the incredible Everglades National Park while fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. I went kayaking in the mangrove waterways, and I loved it. Just please remember water-resistant SPF!

The pace of Key Largo makes for a tranquil atmosphere, ideal for unwinding and reconnecting with nature.

There’s also a variety of eco-tours and birdwatching opportunities for those interested in learning more about the local wildlife.

Ready to hit the beach?

Check out the top spots to catch some rays and cool off in the crystal-clear waters.

The Best Beaches In Key West

The stunning blue waters in Smathers Beach in Key West Florida
Smathers Beach in Key West Florida

When it comes to beaches, Key West has some of the most beautiful in the world.

The island is surrounded by crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling to see tropical fish, and scuba diving.

One of the most famous beaches is Smathers Beach, located on the south side of the island. This two-mile stretch of sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing and taking a dip in the ocean.

For a more secluded experience, head to Bahia Honda State Park. This park has one of the best beaches in the country. With soft sand and turquoise waters, there are plenty of opportunities for water activities like kayaking and paddleboarding.

Higgs Beach is another popular spot, with calm waters and a long pier perfect for fishing.

Looking for a more family-friendly beach? Check out Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The beach is surrounded by lush foliage, and the water is shallow and calm, making it perfect for kids to play in.

There’s also a fort on the park grounds that you can explore, adding extra adventure to your day at the beach.

Now that you know all about the best beaches in Key West, it’s time to head to Key Largo to discover some of the best beaches in the area.

The Best Beaches In Key Largo

Beach and palms in John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park Key Largo Florida
John Pennenkamp Coral Reef State Park Key Largo Florida

Key Largo is a tropical paradise that also has incredible beaches.

Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot to catch some rays or a lively beach to surf and paddleboard, there’s a beach in Key Largo for everyone.

The beach in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of the most popular beaches in Key Largo, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving as it’s right next to the world-famous coral reefs.

The beach is also great for families, with calm waters and plenty of facilities to keep everyone comfortable.

For a more secluded and quiet beach experience, head over to Harry Harris Park. The beach here is tucked away from the crowds, surrounded by beautiful mangrove trees.

The water is crystal clear and perfect for swimming, and there’s even a playground for kids and picnic tables for a family lunch.

Cannon Beach should be your go-to if you’re looking for a beach with a more lively atmosphere and plenty of activities.

You can rent paddleboards and kayaks to explore the bay or simply relax on the beach and people-watch. If you have never rented before, check out this easy guide to paddle board rentals. There are also volleyball nets and grilling stations, so you can make a day of it with friends and family.

Now that you know all about the best activities and beaches in both places, it’s time to start planning your trip. You need to find the perfect place to stay.

The Best Places To Stay In Key West And Key Largo

Pools and garden at NYAH (Not Your Average Hotel) in Key West Florida. I loved this southern wooden house, back yard, pool and everything! And it is walking distance to both Duval Street and the marina.
NYAH Not Your Average Hotel in Key West

When it comes to Key West vs Key Largo vacation rentals, there are plenty to choose from.

If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway, there are a variety of high-end resorts and hotels in both locations.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, both places have a version of that. But let’s be real: the Florida Keys will not be a cheap destination either way when it comes to accommodation.

Here are top-rated options you can safely book for an amazing stay in both keys.

Key West

In Key West, some of the most popular top-rated accommodation options are:

These three first resorts on this list offer stunning ocean views, private beaches, and top-notch amenities such as spas, tennis courts, and swimming pools.

If you prefer a smaller, more intimate setting, you might consider one of the bed and breakfasts or smaller boutique hotels scattered throughout Old Town.

I stayed at the NYAH (short for Not Your Average Hotel), and it was great for the budget for a solo female traveler like myself. I also met several groups of friends and couples happily staying here.

NYAH; Not Your Average Hotel, in Key West.

The NYAH has the perfect location, breakfast included, is super charming, offers free coffee 24/7 (important!), and has a great backyard with three pools.

The NYAH also has dorms if you prefer to be social or keep your housing on a really low budget.

Key Largo

In Key Largo, you’ll find a range of accommodations, from basic motels to luxurious waterfront resorts.

Several resorts offer private beaches, water sports, and outdoor activities like tennis and golf.

Three of the top-notch rated options to stay in Key Largo are:


For a more secluded experience, you might opt for a cozy waterfront cottage or a houseboat rental.

This “Happy Houseboat” has a 9.2 score from other travelers, sleeps up to three people, and you can be on the water all the time.

Now that you’ve hopefully got your accommodation sorted, it’s time to start thinking about one of the most important and best things in the world – where to eat!

Check out Key West and Key Largo’s best-rated restaurants for delicious and memorable dining experiences.

Top Rated Tours In The Keys

I did the sunset catamaran sail in Key West and the mangrove kayaking in Key Largo myself; you see the photo and a short video; it was MAGIC!


The Best Restaurants In Key West And Key Largo

When it comes to dining in Key West and Key Largo, you’ll find an impressive selection of restaurants featuring a mix of fresh seafood, Cuban cuisine, and the classic Florida Keys staple, conch fritters!

You will not go hungry anywhere in the Florida Keys.

Popular Restaurants Key Largo

In Key Largo, you can’t miss the casual and lively atmosphere at The Fish House, where you can enjoy fresh fish right on the waterfront.

For a more upscale dining experience, head to the Key Largo Conch House, infamous for its conch chowder and lobster dishes.

Excellent Dining Key West

Key West marina at night, where you find a lot of life , bars and restaurants!
Key West Marina at night

For a hearty breakfast, check out Blue Heaven, tempting you with its fluffy pancakes and outdoor seating in a lush garden setting.

For lunch or dinner, head to the Cuban hotspot, El Meson de Pepe, where you can enjoy authentic Cuban sandwiches or seafood paella.

For a unique dining experience for all senses, head to Latitudes on Sunset Key, accessible only via a short boat ride from Key West.

This upscale restaurant offers stunning ocean views and gourmet cuisine, perfect for a romantic date night or special occasion.

No matter where you choose to dine, both Key West and Key Largo offer plenty of delicious options to satisfy any craving.

How To Get There to Key Largo and Key West!

If you have a car, that problem is already taken care of, but if not, there are a few options to get to both Key West and Key Largo apart from a Florida Keys road trip.

The Greyhound bus has departures multiple times a day from Miami to both destinations.

This is a comfortable and very budget-friendly option, but it leaves no room for stopping and exploring as if you do your own road trip!

You can get a rental car for the duration of your getaway, which is perfect for designing your own road trip and allows you to stop and check out all the fun and interesting sights on the way.

If you prefer not to drive (or can’t), but want some level of freedom, you can also choose a private transfer.

That is a pricier option but gives you the freedom to stop here and there, chill in the back, and enjoy the scenery when you are on the move.

Or even a one-day tour of the Florida Keys and get it all in a one-day round-trip.

FAQs

Is it worth the drive from Miami to Key Largo?

The drive from Miami to Key Largo is just over one hour, so if you want to visit the Flordia Keys for a day this is a drive that is worth your time.

Especially if you love epic nature experiences, in addition to water sports and stunning, more tranquil beaches than in Miami.

How far apart are Key Largo and Key West?

The distance between Key Largo and Key West is around 106 miles, and it takes just under two and a half hours to drive.

Is Key West A Party Town?

Although it can not compare to Metropol Miami, Key West is renowned for its nightlife and vibrant festive culture.

Key West has a diverse variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, live music venues, and even dedicated pool parties.

Although Key West has a calmer and more tranquil vibe, party animals will not be disappointed here on the tip of the US.

Why Is Key Largo So Popular?

Key Largo is the first of the Florida Keys you meet off the mainland in South Florida, and it is popular because it is so close to Miami.

Combining this with the plethora of activities you can enjoy, like fishing, paddle boarding, snorkeling and scuba diving, sailing, and kayaking the mangroves, you have the answer to Key Largo’s popularity.

Why Is Key Largo Famous?

Key Largo itself has appointed the island as a scuba divers’ paradise, as well as a haven for snorkelers who prefer to hit the deep without tanks.

As the first little islet of the Florida Keys, you meet when you leave the mainland. It is a perfect starting point for a variety of nature experiences.

You will find a plethora of amazing sites for activities in Key Largo, which is a famous starting point for deep-sea fishing. Or, just stay on the shore and find yourself a nice sandy beach.

Is Key Largo A Party Spot?

If you want neverending parties, Key Largo might not be your perfect destination.

Although there are bars and restaurants, this island is not famous for its vibrant nightlife but rather for being a tranquil and calm oasis for adventure seekers.

Even Key West might not be perfect for you if your main success factor for holidays is the party score. Just maybe you simply need to venture up to Miami!

How Far Apart Are Key West And Key Largo?

There are around 106 miles between Key West and Key Largo, including the impressive Seven Mile Bridge.

The drive normally takes just under two and a half hours.

Can You Swim In Key Largo?

Yes, you can swim in Key Largo!

Head out to Cannon Beach, which is a beautiful white sandy beach, super popular and famous for its Caribbean vibe waters.

Is Key West A Walking Town?

Yes, it is really easy to walk on foot around the most popular places in Key West. This includes the famous southernmost point, as well as Whitehead Street, Duval Street, and Mallory Square.

If you get tired, you can jump on the Key West Trolley as well.

Which Key Has The Best Nightlife?

Key West is definitely the best option if great nightlife is on your must-have list for amazing holidays.

The other keys are smaller and more laid back (but with lots of activities).

Do You Need A Car On Key West?

The central and most important and popular places in Key West are very walkable, so you don’t really need a car in Key West.

If you take the Greyhound bus or any other transport down, you will be fine just walking (or bicycling) this small town.

Which Key Has The Clearest Water?

The one Florida Key, which has the clearest and most stunning waters, is not among those that you can drive to get to.

Dry Tortuga National Park outside Key West is considered the winner in this regard and is an island situated around 67 miles west of Key West, accessible only by boat.

What Is The Distance from Miami International Airport to Keyt West

The distance from MIA, Miami International Airport to Key West is about 160 miles, and from MIA to Key Largo is 56 miles.

Wrap-Up Key West vs Key Largo

If you’re trying to decide which destination to visit between Key West and Key Largo, hopefully, this guide has provided you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Key West is an ideal destination for travelers seeking an active vacation both day and night; you can sleep when you get old. Also, Key West is great for those who crave an active vacation with heaps of excitement and a bit of nightlife.

If you prefer daytime activities and a more quiet atmosphere, Key Largo offers that. It is the perfect destination for those who want to unwind on secluded beaches and soak up the natural beauty of the area.

It is also a shorter drive from the Continental United States if that matters to you.

Either way, the Florida Keys truly is a sun-kissed paradise that offers a wealth of adventure and relaxation opportunities for travelers seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Related blog posts:

Best Florida Keys Jet Ski Rentals: Exhilarating Adventure From An Expert Traveler

4 Best Ways For Day Trips From Key West To Cuba From An Expert

3 Key West Suite Hotels With Private Beach (And 2 Mansions)

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