Due to its unique location on an island at the southernmost tip of Florida, Key West can be accessed by plane, car, shuttle or boat. There are fortunately many choices to suit a variety of traveler's needs and budgets.
The easiest way for long distance domestic or international travelers to access the island is to fly directly into the convenient Key West International Airport. This modern airport is situated on the northeast side of the island and is only minutes from the city. American Airlines, Cape Air, Delta, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways all currently provide service to and from the airport. Upon arrival, a number of ground transportation options are available including local taxi services and shuttle services. In addition, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National Car Rental and Thrifty all provide a wide selection of rental cars for travel into the Florida Keys.
Fortunately, there are several additional airports in southern Florida that provide a competitive edge. Although these are certainly a greater distance from the island, they may offer more competitive pricing and flight options. As a bonus, those arriving at these airports can enjoy additional southern Florida attractions as well as the fantastic scenic drive down through the Florida Keys. The Miami International Airport is located 160 miles north of the island and is served by dozens of domestic and international airlines. There are sixteen car rental companies available at the airport's central Rental Car Center, which is connected to the main terminal via a free tram service. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is another alternative, which is situated 189 miles north of the island. This airport is served by 30 airlines and over a dozen car rental companies, and is a great option for those wishing to visit the beautiful Fort Lauderdale beaches before making their way south. Finally, the Palm Beach International Airport is located 230 miles from the island and is served by 12 airlines with direct service to 25 destinations. The airport's nine rental car agencies are conveniently located on level one of the terminal. Additional airports throughout the state within a reasonable drive of the Florida Keys include the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Tampa International Airport and Orlando International Airport.
Driving to Key West is a delightful treat as the scenic U.S. Route 1 leads directly from Key Largo via a series of small islands and bridges including the famous Seven Mile Bridge. Although it is certainly difficult to get lost, it is very easy to make several detours to enjoy some of the state parks and small towns. Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada and Marathon all offer a selection of delicious restaurants, interesting shops and fun water sports opportunities to break up the drive. The driving directions to the starting point of Key Largo are quite easy. From Miami International Airport, drivers should take 836 West to the Florida Turnpike south which ends in Florida City. From there, U.S. Route 1 south leads directly to Key Largo and on to the other Florida Keys. From Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, drivers should take 595 West to the Florida turnpike south and follow to U.S. Route 1. Any other drivers arriving from the north should make their way to the Florida Turnpike and follow these same directions. If arriving from the west coast of Florida, I-75 south leads directly to the Florida turnpike.
There a couple of nice options for those who would simply like to sit back, relax and enjoy the views on their journey south across the Florida Keys. The Keys Shuttle Bus offers door to door service between both the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport to the island. The bus departs six times daily in clean and comfortable full size vans and will drop off in almost any Key West location. If travelers have arrived by AMTRAK train into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the Keys Shuttle Bus is the ideal way to complete the journey. In addition, the Greyhound Lines bus service provides transportation between Miami International Airport and the island.
Key West can also be accessed by ferry, private boat or even by cruise ship! The Key West Express provides high speed ferry service from Fort Myers Beach throughout the year, and also from Marco Island on a seasonal basis (December through April). The company has three ferry vessels with air-conditioned interiors, outdoor sundecks and a full galley. The trip takes approximately 3.5 hours and the ferries dock at a location just a 15 minute walk from Duval Street. Private boats can access the island by traveling along either the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico side of the island. There are many marinas available in town, but reservations should be made in advance to guarantee a slip. Many of the large cruise ship operators with itineraries in the Caribbean often include a port of call on the island. Although this is a great way to access the town, the time in port is usually quite limited and would likely not be ideal for travelers who want to see everything that the town has to offer.