I spent a summer living and working in Key West spending all my free time eating as much as possible and doing as much as possible. I spent each day off of work exploring a new part of the island and booking new experiences. So, from all of my research and experience, here are my top 8 excursions/tours in Key West I recommend!
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Things to Know About My Favorite Excursions in Key West
The island of Key West is such a unique place and where (in my opinion) you should spend the most amount of time in the Florida Keys. You can find fun watersports and activities all throughout the keys, however, if you are looking for some amazing Florida Keys excursions, Key West is sure to offer what you are looking for.
One of the most beautiful things about Key West is the open water surrounding the island. To truly get to appreciate the beauty of the area, I highly suggest getting out on the water via one of the amazing Key West excursions. You can do that by a relaxing Key West sunset cruise, a beautiful Key West backcountry tour or even a tour including loads of watersports.
And to get the most well-rounded experience in Key West, you’ll also want to book a tour on land to learn more about the history and culture of the area and hopefully try some amazing food (if a guided food tour isn’t your thing, be sure to check out my ultimate Key West foodie guide for your own self-led guided tour 😉).
You will find below that a few of my favorite and best Key West excursions I’ve done include snorkeling. This is because Key West is home to the only living barrier reef in the continental United States which is one of the best Key West snorkeling spots. However, the reef is located a few miles offshore, so you will need a guided boat tour of some kind to get there (the other great spot is the beach of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park).
related post: 8 Best Places to Try Key Lime Pie in Key West
Are Key West Tours and Excursions Worth the Money?
Definitely, definitely, definitely! While Key West can be an expensive place to visit (we’re looking at you hotels and food) I still 100% recommend saving space in your budget to book at least one of the water excursions in Key West. From the summer I spent working in Key West, a lot of my favorite memories are from getting out on the water.
I still remember how I felt jetskiing and parasailing for the first time in my life (parasailing was much less scary than I imagined btw), what it was like to be out in open water snorkeling in the reef off Key West, or peacefully enjoying the sunset from a catamaran. Even if you only have 1-2 days I highly recommend booking an experience!
Best Time to Visit for Key West Water Tours
The great thing about Key West is that you will have great weather almost the entire year. Shoulder season (spring and fall) are generally the best times to visit for the most moderate weather (in the 80’s) and fewer crowds. In the winter, you can expect the most crowds and temperatures to drop to highs around 75° F and lows around 65° F. This could potentially mean chilly weather for when you’re wanting to be laying out on a catamaran in the middle of the ocean, or it could potentially be very pleasant.
Summertime in Key West brings high humidity and high temperatures around 90° F, which can definitely be super hot (speaking from experience living in Key West for an entire summer) but makes the water very welcoming. Hurricane season generally runs from June-November with higher chances of hurricanes forming towards the latter end.
Obviously, large storms and hurricanes don’t hit the Florida Keys every year, but it’s something good to keep in mind. My husband and I returned to Key West on a Florida road trip one early November and the weather was perfectly beautiful making it a great time to visit.
Check out this post: 17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Key West, Florida
Are these Excursions Good Things to Do in Key West with Kids?
One great thing about most, if not all of these excursions and tours is that they are family friendly! You can find if there are any specific age requirements within the listing, however, many say from age zero and up. Even tours you may not expect to be family-friendly (like a sunset sail) usually are.
However, be sure to always check specific requirements and reach out to them if you have specific needs for your kids. If a tour provides alcoholic drinks, they will give wristbands to those who show a valid I.D and provide soft drinks for anyone who can’t have or doesn’t want alcohol.
Quick Guide to the Best Excursions in Key West
|1. Sunset Sail with music and drinks on catamaran or sailboat||2 hours||Book Now|
|2. Ultimate Jet Ski Tour of Key West||2 hours||Book Now|
|3. Backcountry Island Adventure Snorkel and Kayak Tour||4.5 hours||Book Now|
|4. Guided Bicycle Tour of Old Town Key West||3 hours||Book Now|
|5. Ultimate Adventure Tour with Breakfast, Lunch, and Drinks||6 hours||Book Now|
|6. Half-Day Key West Reef Snorkeling Excursion||3 hours||Book Now|
|7. Key West Food and Cultural Walking Tour||3 hours||Book Now|
|8. Deepsea Sportfishing Excursion in Key West||4-8 hours||Book Now|
One of the things Key West is most known for is its famous sunsets and nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square. You definitely need to make time to attend the sunset celebration (along with booking a sunset sail on a different night). The sunset celebration usually begins about two hours before sunset and is free to attend, full of local artists, live music, performers, and food carts. It happens right along the water in Mallory Square with a perfect view of the sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico, everyone might even clap once the sun has set!
Once you’ve experienced that, then it’s time to book a sunset sail for a different night of your stay! When I was in Key West, I booked the sunset sail on a large catamaran that included drinks (both alcoholic and soda) and live local music. We cruised around the island getting to see different points of interest all while relaxing and watching the sunset.
There are many different types of sunset sails you can choose from, for example, you can book a cruise on a large catamaran (like I did), sail on a traditional sailboat, or even climb aboard a replica 1851 Schooner! Or if you are looking for an even more intimate experience (for in my opinion what is quite a reasonable price), you can even book a private sunset cruise on a smaller boat with a local Key West guide! These are all bound to be the best sunset cruises in Key West. If you are interested in other places to watch the sunset in Key West, check out my 7 Most Beautiful Places You Need Watch the Sunset in Key West post!
Since are so many different cruise options, you are sure to find what you are looking for no matter the type of group you have (including kids).
For my birthday in Key West, I booked a jet ski tour around the island and it’s one of my favorite birthday memories to this day! We rode completely around the island on both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico side. One side was shallow with crystal clear water and we needed to follow our guides track specifically to ensure we didn’t bottom out. The other side of the island was much deeper water with larger swells and a totally different but fun experience.
Jetskiing is a great way to experience the water and see parts of Key West you may not otherwise see. Plus it’s a quick experience lasting just about two hours meaning you’ll still have plenty of time to do other activities you’d like! To save money you can book multiple riders on one jetski, or you can each drive your own.
check out this post: 10 Best Things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West Florida
If you are looking for one of the most unique excursions you can take in Key West, a Key West backcountry tour is definitely it. Some of the prettiest places in Key West can only be reached by boat and this tour takes you there. Take a boat ride out to a local sandbar to paddleboard, kayak, snorkel or just hang out and relax with provided lunch! This tour boasts taking you to a local-favorite area which is totally true because when I experienced a Key West sandbar, I was with a group of locals!
While hanging out at the sandbar, you may see dolphins, stingrays, conch shells and more! This backcountry tour in Key West is a perfect way to spend a few hours relaxing in the warm water away from the crowds and getting to see some beautiful wildlife. It’s definitely a different vibe than what you’ll find at the beaches on the island. You’ll feel more connected with nature and have beautiful photos from your day.
If you want to hit the main tourist stops in one leisurely go, are looking to learn more about Key West’s cute old town check out a guided bicycle tour! Key West bike tours are great because you get the fun of biking around the island without having to pay attention to directions. You can see famous spots like Mallory Square, Mile Marker Zero and White Street Pier. Plus, you’ll even get a treat of Key Lime Pie 🤤.
And don’t worry, no matter who is in your group, they most likely have a bike setup for you! They have children’s bikes, baby seats, tag-a-long trailers and even an adult sized tandem bike. I rented a bike on my own one day while in Key West, and I think I’d recommend this guided tour instead. It’s more stress-free and less hassle plus you get loads of fun information.
The Ultimate Adventure Tour really is what it sounds like. You’ll spend six hours out on the water with breakfast nd lunch doing almost as many watersports you can do in Key West as possible. You’ll get to sail on a large catamaran out to the Florida reef to snorkel then later you can parasail, play with bouncy water toys and even go jetskiing!
The Ultimate Adventure Tour is perfect if you have only one day to spend on the water and you want to experience as many activities as possible. If some of the activities don’t interest you, you can stay on the catamaran and sunbathe the day away.
They split the boat up into different groups and assign a timeframe to each group to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to try each activity. It was a smooth process and we felt like we had a sufficient amount of time trying out each new thing.
Key West is home to the only living barrier reef in the continental United States known as Florida’s Coral Reef, however, it is located a few miles off shore requiring a boat ride to get there. This makes a snorkeling excursion in Key West the only way to get to this snorkeling spot and a great way to spend the day out on the water.
You’ll get to enjoy an hour boat ride out to the reef, an hour of snorkeling and an hour back to shore. Snorkeling equipment is provided, including life vests and floaties, making it a fun, safe experience for everyone (however knowing how to swim is still a requirement). If you have an underwater camera, definitely bring it along with you for some fun snorkeling pics! You may even consider buying an inexpensive one just for this trip.
Key West has some super yummy food joints rich with culture and history. You’ll find delicious Cuban spots, tasty local treats (aka Key Lime Pie) and more. To make sure you don’t miss a single place, be sure to book the Key West food and culture walking tour!
However, if you are someone who wants to hit up these spots on your own rather than a tour, check out my Ultimate Key West Food Guide and my 8 Best Places to Try Key Lime Pie in Key West Guide for some great recommendations!
check out this post: Ultimate Key West Food Guide | 19 Places You Must Try
One tour I unfortunately did not get to participate in during my time in Key West (but I wish I had) is a Key West deepsea fishing excursion. After a summer of doing as much as possible in Key West, I guess I just ran out of time and money 😆. However, even though I did not go deepsea fishing, I definitely think it’s a great activity to do while in the area.
Choose between a four, six or eight hour excursion with the chance to catch Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Sailfish, Marlin and other local Key West fish. Plus you can pay for a group of up to six people and have the boat all to yourselves. Be sure to try any of the fish dishes at the restaurants in Key West for some of the freshest fish you’ll ever have! I’m not generally a fish eater, but when I spent time in Key West I definitely order it. My go-to favorite is Mahi Mahi.
And those are my top 8 favorite excursions/tours that are definitely worth the money in Key West! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of these excursions or about visiting Key West in general. I’m a real person that loves to talk travel.
Check out these other posts, I know you’ll love them:
- The Ultimate Key West, Florida Bucket List | 98 Things to Do
- The Ultimate Itinerary for a Day Trip to Key West
- Ultimate Key West Food Guide | 19 Places You Must Try
- The 7 Most Beautiful Places You Need Watch the Sunset in Key West
- 10 Best Things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West Florida
- 17 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Key West, Florida
- 8 Best Places to Try Key Lime Pie in Key West
- 10 Amazing Florida Roadtrip Stops with Kids
- 5 Reasons You Need to Rent Jet Skis in Key West + How to Rent