Key West is part of the islands that make up the Florida Keys. It’s the southernmost place in the United States and just 90 miles north of Cuba.
Being in The Keys often feels like you’re not even in the country and instead on a Caribbean island vacation. However, you’re still in the US, no matter how foreign or far it feels.
It is known for its colorful houses, fantastic coral reefs, and lively atmosphere. Key West is also popular for its snorkeling.
There are tons of things to do, but the most popular are the snorkeling and diving opportunities along the coral reef. It’s also enjoyable to walk the island, partake in water sports, boat, lounge on the beach, swim, head out to the bars at night and paddleboard in Keywest.
If you’re off to explore Key West, keep reading because we have created a great list of things to pack for Key West including all the essentials.
We’re hoping we can help make your life easier so you can get excited about your trip and not worry as much about the packing.
Which for some, can be daunting and, for others, a fun part of the process. No matter what type of packer you are.
The last-minute packer or the organized packer, this list will help you reach your end goal, which is packed and ready to go!
Ultimate Packing List for Key West
To keep things simple and less stressful, there is only a small list of items that are absolute necessities.
As long as you have these packed, you don’t have anything to worry about. Anything else you forget can be replaced and purchased when you travel.
Whereas, these essentials are much more difficult to replace during your trip. The items you don’t want to forget include medication, contacts, glasses, and other prescription or hard-to-replace items.
While forgetting other items can be an annoyance, they’re not impossible to replace like these essentials.
If you are visiting in the summer, it’ll be super warm, and you’ll mostly only need shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits, dresses, and sunglasses for your trip.
However, if you are there in the winter, you’ll want a few light sweaters and pants. You can easily turn a dress into a coverup during the day and something fancy for dinner at night.
This is a great way to save space in your luggage if you’re not bringing many bags.
Bathing suits are an important item not to leave behind because it can be hard to find a well-fitting bathing suit. They can also be super expensive, making them hard to replace if forgotten.
You should bring at least a couple, especially if you are in Key West during the summer when you’ll need to escape the heat by jumping in the water often.
A necessity is sunglasses. It can be bright under the island sun, especially when looking out over the water.
You’ll surely be miserable without a pair of sunglasses. Make sure to choose a polarized pair; there are so many options for your unique style.
Hats are another great accessory that will spruce up any outfit and protect your eyes and face from the sun.
Again, there are so many choices depending on your personal style. From baseball caps to sun hats, the options are endless. Want some idea on some great sunhats for your travels?
A bathing suit coverup is essentially a light dress. This is great because it can often be worn to the beach and then dressed up at night with jewelry and accessories to go out for dinner.
In addition, it’s a great way to save space in your luggage. Even if you don’t feel like re-wearing your coverup, they’re great light and airy pieces to wear under the hot sun rather than shorts and a t-shirt.
It’s also much easier to throw on over a wet bathing suit.
Dresses are similar to coverups and are fabulous because they can be used as a coverup during the day and worn at night to go out.
They are also super light, perfect for a hot day when you don’t feel like putting on jean shorts and a shirt.
In addition, dresses don’t take up a ton of space and are the perfect outfit to re-wear in different ways. So don’t forget these on your key west packing list.
6. Clothes to wear out at night
Key West is a lively place at night. You’ll want to bring some outfits to wear out at night or plan on re-wearing your day clothes.
The night scene isn’t super dressy, but it’s very lively and fun with many bars and restaurants.
If you plan to lay on the beach or partake in activities, you’ll want a beach bag.
A beach bag is perfect for carrying your towel, sunglasses, hat, clothes, speaker, water, book, and anything else you may bring to the beach or on an excursion.
Plus it keeps your drinks cold 🙂
You’ll want sandals over sneakers or other closed-toe shoes when walking on the sand.
It’s so much more comfortable and way more breathable. Sandals are great for beach and water activities.
Sneakers are an important item to bring if you’ll be doing a lot of walking. So you will definitely want to add this to your key west packing list.
While sandals are cute and great for the beach, a comfortable pair of shoes will also be worth it. Especially if you plan on spending some time in the town and walking around.
This is an absolute must-have item. The sun can be super hot and if you burn, you’re not going to have a fun rest of your trip.
Sunscreen is also essential for protecting your skin from sun damage. Sunscreen can be purchased if you forget to bring it with you, but it’s usually cheaper to bring instead of buying it.
11. Makeup & Toiletries
Makeup and toiletries are important to bring. These can be expensive items to replace if forgotten, especially the makeup.
You may also not find precisely what you’re looking for if you have to buy items in the Keys.
Therefore, it’s best to make sure you have your toiletries, so you don’t need to stress about shopping for replacements. Below is a list of different toiletry items you may want to consider bringing:
Hair clips, ties, and accessories
Mini first aid kit
If you plan to partake in water activities, you may want to buy a legit case to take your phone underwater with you.
No need to buy a waterproof camera anymore, when you can just use your phone that you already own.
They are inexpensive and come in handy if you plan on doing any snorkeling or diving.
A waterproof bag is great if you’ll be adventuring on the water. You can throw your phone and other valuables like your keys and wallet in the bag, and they won’t get wet.
If you are worried about ruining your items, this is a great option to feel like your items are safe and secure.
Depending on where you’re staying, your Airbnb or hotel will usually provide a beach towel, but they can be bulky.
If you plan on walking around or doing any activities you might not want to carry a bulky towel around with you all day. These travel towels are lightweight and easy to put in any day bag.
These small speakers are easy to travel with and come in so handy not only on the beach but your Airbnb or hotel as well.
They hardly take up any room but put out a great sound. I love mine and use it not only when I travel, but pretty much every day.
When you are traveling you tend to spend more time away for a power outlet, which is a great thing. However, you also tend to need and use your phone more often for pictures, directions and looking up restaurants.
Thats why it is always a good idea to have a portable charger in your day bag when you are out and about.
It is important to stay hydrated when you are in Key West, it is most likely hotter than you are used to. Buying bottled water is not only expensive but bad for the environment. It is a good idea to invest in a good water bottle with a filtration system.
Yes, you can drink the water in Key West, but it is always nice to have extra filtered water.
If you are planning on flying to Key West, you most likely don’t want to bring your beach chairs. You are going to want a way to be comfortable on the beach, nonetheless.
This sand-free beach blanket doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase and will help you enjoy the beach rather than sitting on a small beach towel.
Things to Put in Your Bag While Traveling
Whether you’re flying or driving to Florida, you’ll most likely have a personal bag where you can keep your important and entertainment items on you.
Below you’ll find some items you may want to consider keeping on hand as entertainment or for safety.
Hint: you can use your beach bag or waterproof bag to save space in your luggage
- Wallet with cash, credit cards, and debit card
- Portable charger
- Chargers for your electronic devices
- Downloaded Movies/TV Series
- Passport (if flying)
- Water bottle with filter
- Travel pillow
- Eye mask
- Hand Sanitizer
- Travel Jewelry Box (so it does not get lost or stolen, especially if it’s expensive)
- Noise Canceling Headphones
- Lip balm
- Printouts of important hotel addresses, copies of passports/IDs, itineraries
What Kind Of Weather To Expect In Key West, Florida
The temperature in the Keys rarely drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest it gets is low 90s Fahrenheit.
The warmest months are June through October, with August being the warmest. The summer months are usually in the 80s each day.
December through March is considered the cool months, with an average high in the mid-70s. The coldest month is January, with an average temperature in the mid-60s to 70s.
April and November are considered the spring and fall in-between months. The rainiest month is September, and the driest month is March.
You really can’t go wrong visiting Key West any time of year.
In the summer months, it’s super warm and great for being outside and in the water.
The winter months are a comfortable temperature for walking around and enjoying the scenery.
Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, the packing list might change slightly. If you are in Key West during the winter, you may want a few light sweaters or pants in case it’s cool.
Top Activities in Key West
The activities Key West is most well known for are its snorkeling and diving because of its proximity to an amazing coral reef.
Below are some activities to potentially prepare and pack for during your visit to Key West.
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities in Key West. It is a must-do activity when you are in the keys. There are so many pretty fish and corral reefs to explore, that I highly recommend booking a tour, so you can check out the best spots.
I love walking tours and try to do one everywhere I go. You find out so much history about where you are and you learn so much more about the location you are in. On top of that, you get to meet fellow travelers and find out all the hot spots to eat at.
What says vacation better than a sunset booze cruise. Enjoy the open waters with wine and champagne and watch the beautiful sunset in Key West.
What to Leave Behind When Traveling to Key, West Florida
You won’t need expensive jewelry, purses, or outfits. It’s best to leave expensive items behind so that they don’t get ruined, lost, or stolen during your trip.
Losing expensive and invaluable items can genuinely put a damper on your whole experience.
Remember Kim Kardashian crying about her diamond earrings lost in the ocean? That could be you if you inevitably lose something!
Be sure not to overpack. Even if you’re not taking a plane, it’s still better not to overstuff the car and your bags.
This will only leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Also, the more room you save, the more souvenirs you can take home!
Leave your bulky shoes, purses, jackets, and all of your full-size products at home because they’ll take up tons of space and will leave your bag feeling super heavy.
The moral of the story, enjoy your time in Key West! It’s a beautiful place with so many opportunities to have fun.
Packing can seem like a daunting task, but the fact that you’ve read this means you’re prepared and ready for the trip of a lifetime. So go pack and get ready for some under-the-sun fun!
Do you have an essential item that you always bring with you that wasn’t mentioned with these things to pack for Key West? Say so in the comments below.