|Best time to visit Key West is January to May|
Let's start with some Key West best time of year Frequently Asked Questions….
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT KEY WEST?
I'm only coming for the weather - when is the very best month to visit?
March very best, but will be very good January through May.
January often a little cold at night which is why if you want the very best month, it's March. But, there's really not much in it.
If I come in March, and great weather is my only priority, what are my chances I'll be disappointed?
Very unlikely. Less than 5% chance you'll be disappointed. The temperature will be just right (mid to high 70s), unlikely to rain, little humidity, lots of blue skies.
Is it like this all year round? There are no BAD months to visit, right?
Wrong. It gets super humid July to November. Makes it very sweaty and uncomfortable being in Key West. You can also get some big rain days during this time. See below for more.
I want it cheap, I'm on super budget - when is the best time to visit?
July to September or right after Fantasy Fest (beginning of November) through to end November. See here for tips for budget travelers.
Is it good to visit Key West for a specific event or festival?
Yes and Key West has a festival almost every week! (Really). A list of the bigger / better ones you can see towards the end of this post.
How tropical is Key West? Is it like the Caribbean?
Tropical means blue skies, palm trees, heat, strong sun, laid back "island life" vibe, sea, beaches, and peace / tranquility. Key West does all of these pretty well except the last two. Key West only has two beaches, only one of them is any good, and it's small. You can find peace and tranquility on Key West definitely, but just round the corner it can be mad, crazy, busy (as you'd expect from a party island, famous around the world, and which is visited by 1m tourists every year).
How long should I visit Key West for, and what is the best way to travel?
Go to my Key West vacation planning post for answers to these questions.
How quiet is Key West in the off season?
In the off season (July through to Fantasy Fest in late October) Key West is 50% to 60% less busy than peak. It's quiet and sleepy. Bars can get really empty and quiet. It's not good time for party, but good for relaxing. And it's definitely cheap(er).
The downside is the humidity which really makes a difference - see below.
How mad and crazy is Key West? I've heard it's pretty wild.
Well, it's a small island and no way near as brash, rich, showy and decadent than somewhere like Las Vegas. No one is going to call Key West trendy or minimalist, like New York. But it's nicely compact, fun, yes definitely busy in peak time and eccentric and with lots of character.
Best Cheap and Budget hotels and B&Bs in Key West
14 things to know when planning a Key West vacation
Let's start with the weather which is one of the main reasons people visit Key West. I have some really great news for you...
The weather in Key West is awesome, and for most of the year (BUT NOT ALL - keep reading!):
- There is a high chance your visit will see blue skies
- Some days you'll have not a hint of cloud, or a faint wind with a few clouds
- Your sunsets will be remarkably beautiful
- The rain will behave itself and fall during the night when you are asleep (honestly, it's common for Key West rain to fall at night, rather than many other places (like Miami, for example) when it falls in the late afternoon when the humidity has built up. This is, of course, not 100% guaranteed!).
- You will be able to follow the visitors' Key West "shorts law": only ever wear shorts in Key West. For your entire stay, day and night.
So when should you visit to get the best weather?
The peak season: January to April
It's fantastic weather. Little rain, average temperatures in the 80s and Key West is busy, busy, busy. Hotel and guesthouse occupancy rates near 100%. It really is very busy and lively. Bars are packed, you need reservations in many restaurants. Hotels and guesthouses charge their highest rates.
The shoulder season: May, June; and November and December
Starting to get hot and humid. Some cheaper hotel rates can be found. Still quite busy.
The off peak season: July, August, September, October
Hot (which means early 90s temperature), but the real problem is the humidity: it's drippingly humid. Hotel and guesthouse prices 40% lower than peak season highs. Key West is quiet, a small number of restaurants even close down totally for a month or two (they take their vacations during these months). So it's not deserted, but blissfully quiet!
August and September are peak rain months and so you could get some rainy days, but if you're lucky the rain will fall in the night.
New Year's - Key West is very busy for new year, hotels and guest houses will charge extra premium to stay for New year's eve. The week after is a little quieter and nice time to visit.
Rest of January, Feb and March - Lovely, perfect weather. Very little rain. KW is the hottest place in America during these months. If you don't mind the high cost of hotels, and like it busy, busy, busy then this is the time for you. Bars will be full, Duval Street will be extra crazy, better restaurants will need reservations. Room rates are likely to be 40% more expensive than off peak time. Can be a little chilly in the evenings in January and February, hence why I think March or April is perfect month to visit.
Here's a post I did on the most beautiful March afternoon - spot the cloud!
April through June - Great weather and KW is busy, but just a little less mad busy than Jan to March. You'll find some bargain room rates in April and by the time we get to May (the official end to the high season) even in the best places and hotels, room rates will be reduced. Expect room rates in May to be 40% lower than in February.
August and September are peak rain months and so you could get some rainy days, but if you're lucky the rain will fall in the night. Here's what to do in Key West when it rains.
|Key West is a tropical destination and so when it rains, it rains! The wettest months are August and September. But rain is not the only thing to watch for.... read below about the humidity....|
I visited in September 2011 and wrote a post on Key West's closed restaurants. The flip side to this is that lots of good restaurants DO stay open, and in those you can always get a table without booking, the locals have more time to chat to you, and several restaurants do special offer menus, at 30% off prices outside of off season. BIG bargains can be had on room rates - ring / email and negotiate!
|A storm in Key West means a day of wind and rain. This in October.|
November - humidity dropping. OK time to visit. Can be not as warm as you'd like, especially at night.
December - Humidity totally gone, party time is back. Getting busy again. Weather good, can be cool(ish) at night but hot during the day. I've still to this day NEVER worn anything but shorts in Key West.
My favorite month to visit Key West
I like it quieter. Key West is much easier that way! So May to September, or immediately after Fantasy Fest. But that's me and I've visited Key West a lot and I love the challenge of the humidity! But that's me....
I strongly recommend first time visitors stick to peak season (January to April).
As I said above, the absolute temperatures are never a problem in Key West, it's never been over 100 degrees here. The problem is the humidity in summer. This makes it feel over 100 degrees and very uncomfortable. That's why so few visitors come here July to November.
Here are some average daily highs in degrees F:
Rain - averages
Here's when Key West's 39 inches of rain fall - the % are how much of the year's total falls in that month (data from Weather Channel):
Jan 2.22 6%
Feb 1.51 4%
Mar 1.86 5%
Apr 2.06 5%
May 3.48 9% - rainy season is from May to October
Jun 4.57 12%
Jul 3.27 8%
Aug 5.4 14%
Sep 5.45 14%
Oct 4.34 11%
Nov 2.64 7%
ANNUAL AVERAGE TOTAL 38.94 inches
Should I be worried about Hurricane season in Key West?
Here's why: Hurricane season is 1 June to end of November. Key West is never complacent about hurricanes, as it and the Keys has a long history with hurricanes. But it's unlikely your vacation will be disrupted.
KW last took a direct hit in 1998 by Hurricane Georges (September 24, the eye passed very close to Key West, the island was evacuated of tourists, 7000 locals remained). Often the KW is impacted by "smaller" tropical storms, or the fringes of storms - for example, Tropical Storm Isaac in August 2012. These "smaller" storms do happen in the summer months, especially August to October, and if you're unlucky enough to be here then you're vacation WILL be impacted: you'll loose a few days to dreadful weather.
The bottom line is: if you want the absolute guarantee of great weather, don't come July to November! Only come during these times if you are here for Fantasy Fest, or you enjoy Key West a little quieter, with less tourists clogging up the island!
- The highest recorded temperature was 100°F in 1886.
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- The lowest recorded temperature was 41°F in 1981.
- The maximum average rain occurs in September.
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN KEY WEST
With 1 million visitors a year, Key West hosts many interesting and diverse events and some are very well worth you planning your vacation around. Here are the ones I can vouch for.
Fantasy Fest - 23 October to 01 November 2015
This is very well worth coming specially to Key West for, as long as you don't like it super busy. There are 10 days of events, but I recommend the last two: the Masquerade March (Friday 24 October 2014) and the main parade (Saturday 25). For my full recommendations, hints and advice about visiting for Fantasy Fest - see here.
New Year's Eve
Count in the new year on Duval Street with Sushi and the "drag queen drop" televised live on network TV across the US. Strange but true, this has been happening for the last 16 years.
24rd Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) - November 4 to 8 2015
The Parrot Heads in Paradise annual meeting here in Key West. They have many events which are private in a big Key West hotel but on Friday October 31 there is a public concert with a stage set up on corner of Fleming and Duval Streets. Great fun (fin? - JB fans will get this pun).
30th annual Key West Craft Show - January 24 and 25 2015
2 blocks closed, 100 stalls, 25,000 people, lots of fun tropical and local art. Excellent.
35th Annual Key West Super Boat World Championship - 8 to 15 November 2015
Recently they made a decision to commit to continuing this race here in Key West, so make the most of it! Even if you are not a speed boat fan seeing al the boats parade down Duval Street is amazing - they are powerful beasts - happens first Sunday of the event at 4pm.
Gay events 2015
- Every Sunday afternoon - Gay Tea dance at La Te Da - see here for my review
- March - Gay spring break
- June 10 to 14 - Key West Pride
- August 13 to 16 - Tropical Heat
- September 10 to 13 - Womenfest
- For full information on the Key West gay scene 2015 - see here
Other posts on my blog you might like:
Key West hotels - the best hotels, my favorites, lots of picture, lots of information on where to stay.
About me and this blog: My name is David (more about me and my email here) and I have visited Key West every year for the last 15 years.
I run this site as a hobby only and to help other visitors have as great a time in Key West as I do. I have never earned any money from this blog, there is no advertising. So the opinions contained in the 200 posts on this Key West blog are my own and not biased - unlike many of the other websites about Key West which are commercial and funded by advertisers or paid links.