What’s The Difference: Honest Take On Key Largo Vs key West

What’s The Difference Honest Take On Key Largo Vs key West

What Is Key West and Key Largo Known For?

Contents hide

Key Largo and Key West are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida.

They’re only separated by about a three-hour drive, so it’s not uncommon for people to visit one and then turn around, head back north, and stop at the other on their way.

But they’re two very different places with unique personalities. Let’s jump into Key Largo Vs Key West… the ultimate Key West vs Key Largo showdown!

Key Largo is known for its fishing charters, snorkeling, and scuba diving as well as diving wrecks such as the SS Conch and Busted Ship Wreck.

It’s best known for its breathtaking coral reefs and clear waters that attract scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the world

Key Largo is also home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which is a best Key Largo also feature. The park includes three underwater trails with markers along them so you can see different kinds of fish without having to get in the water yourself!

On the other hand, Key West is known for being home to the southernmost point in the United States and being a lively, bustling city full of tourists.

Key West is home to many restaurants, bars, and clubs that are always busy with visitors from around the world.

There are many things to do if you like adventures such as scuba diving or snorkeling in crystal clear waters or kayaking through mangroves

Key Largo Is Home To Many Species Of Fish

The Atlantic Ocean waters around Key Largo are home to many species of fish including nurse sharks and spotted eagle rays.

Nurse sharks are a popular attraction in Key Largo, as they can be seen swimming in shallow waters or lounging on the ocean floor.

Spotted eagle rays are also commonly found here; they’re known for their large size (up to 10 feet long!) and colorful spots along their backs.

Other notable marine life includes barracudas, snappers, grouper, and octopus and we can not forget about the coral reefs!

If you want to see these amazing creatures up close without getting wet yourself (or if you’re just not into water sports), head over to one of our local aquariums: The Florida Keys Aquarium & Marine Science Center or Sea Life Park Aquarium it is located just outside Miami.

Key Largo A Better Beach Day

Key Largo Oceanside beach is better than any beach in Key West.

Key Largo is a small island and has fewer beaches than Key West, but has the best beach of the two locations, so if you are looking for sand, sun, and surf then this is the place for you!

The Oceanside in Key Largo is also known as one of the best beaches in Florida and it’s not hard to see why when you look at all its attributes:

  • Key West beaches are gorgeous: With white sands that stretch out into deep blue waters that are perfect for swimming or snorkeling (and even diving). If you love wildlife then there are plenty of fish here too including eels!
  • There are no crowds: Because there aren’t many people around; just locals who live nearby plus tourists like us who want some peace & quiet while they relax on their vacations away from home.

Key West Unique History 

Head to Key West, a small island off the coast of Florida, located about 150 miles south of Miami. The climate here is tropical, with warm temperatures year-round and plenty of sunshine — but it’s also one of the wettest places on Earth!

Key West has been home to many famous people over its history: Ernest Hemingway lived there while writing “A Farewell To Arms”; Tennessee Williams wrote many plays while living in Key West; Truman Capote wrote parts of his famous novel “In Cold Blood” while staying at Sloppy Joe’s Bar (which now houses an art gallery).

Today, visitors can see numerous monuments and other attractions dedicated to these writers as well as others who have called this unique place home over time.

Adventures: Key Largo Vs Key West 

Key West has several activities that Key Largo doesn’t have.

You can go snorkeling, diving, and parasailing in Key West.

You can also bike around the island or take a tour of some of its famous landmarks like Hemingway House and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

Key Largo does have some things to do as well though! There are plenty of shops along Ocean Drive where you can shop for souvenirs or get something nice for yourself at one of the many clothing stores.

If you want to see dolphins up close-up then head over to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park which has an underwater observatory where you can watch them swim by every day-it is an amazing experience.

Key Largo vs Key West: Where to Spend More Time?

When deciding between Key Largo and Key West, it ultimately comes down to what kind of experience you’re seeking. Key Largo offers a tranquil and laid-back atmosphere, with its focus on nature and outdoor activities such as snorkeling, diving, and hiking.

If you’re looking to relax and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Florida Keys, then Key Largo is the place to spend more time.

On the other hand, Key West is known for its lively and vibrant nightlife, bustling streets, and historic charm. If you’re looking for a more energetic and eclectic atmosphere with a vibrant arts and culture scene, then Key West is the ideal destination to invest more of your time.

Both destinations have their own unique appeal, and it really comes down to personal preference. However, if you’re torn between Key West vs Key Largo, a good compromise may be to split your time between the two, experiencing the best of both worlds.

Best Beaches and Sunset Views

There are countless beautiful beaches around the world, but Key West beaches each have their own unique charm and stunning sunset views. From the white sandy shores of the Maldives to the rugged coastline of Big Sur, California, there is a perfect beach for every type of traveler.

Some of the best beaches for sunset views include the vibrant and lively Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, the secluded and pristine Anse Source d’Argent in the Seychelles, and the picturesque and serene Cable Beach in Australia. Key West beaches offer not only the perfect spot to relax and unwind during the day but also a breathtaking display of colors as the sun dips below the horizon.

Whether you prefer to watch the sunset from the comfort of a beachfront restaurant or while strolling along the shoreline, there is no denying the magic of a beach sunset view.

The combination of the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand between your toes, and the stunning colors painting the sky makes for an unforgettable experience.

Nightlife and Entertainment Options

When it comes to nightlife and entertainment options, there are countless ways to have a great time. From vibrant nightclubs and trendy bars to live music venues and theaters, there is something for everyone to enjoy after dark.

Cities often offer a wide variety of options, including rooftop lounges with stunning views, elegant wine bars, and cozy pubs with a relaxed atmosphere. For those who prefer a more high-energy experience, there are dance clubs and concert venues that host popular DJs and live bands.

Additionally, many cities host regular festivals and events that showcase local artists, performers, and entertainers. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back night out with friends or an exhilarating dance floor experience, there’s no shortage of nightlife and entertainment options to explore. And with the expanding world of virtual entertainment, there are even more options available for those who prefer to enjoy the nightlife from the comfort of their own home.

Lodging Options: Key Largo vs Key West

When it comes to lodging options, Key Largo and Key West both offer a variety of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. In Key Largo, visitors can find waterfront resorts, cozy bed and breakfasts, and vacation rental homes.

The atmosphere in Key Largo is more laid-back and secluded, making it a great option for those looking for a peaceful retreat. On the other hand, Key West is known for its vibrant nightlife and bustling energy, and as such, it offers a wide range of hotels, inns, and guesthouses, many of which are located in the heart of the action on Duval Street.

Whether you’re looking for luxury, a quaint bed and breakfast, or a budget-friendly option, Key West has something for everyone. Ultimately, the decision between Key Largo and Key West for lodging will depend on your preferred atmosphere and the kind of experience you are looking for during your stay in the Florida Keys.

Key Largo vs Key West for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Enthusiasts

For scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, Key Largo and Key West both offer fantastic opportunities to explore the vibrant underwater world of the Florida Keys. Key Largo, situated nearer to the mainland, is renowned for its clear waters and stunning coral reefs, making it an ideal destination for underwater adventures.

With numerous dive sites, including the famous John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, divers and snorkelers can encounter an array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional dolphin. On the other hand, Key West, the southernmost city in the continental United States, boasts its own unique underwater treasures, such as the Florida Straits and the Vandenberg wreck, a popular diving spot.

Additionally, Key West offers opportunities for night dives and wreck dives, adding an extra element of excitement for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Whether choosing Key Largo or Key West, visitors are sure to have unforgettable experiences exploring the beauty of the Florida Keys beneath the waves.

Exploring Key Largo and Key West’s Unique Culture and History

Key Largo and Key West, located in the beautiful Florida Keys, have a unique culture and history that is well worth exploring; though, many believe it’s better to stay in Key West than Key Largo.

Key Largo, the first of the keys you will encounter when driving down from Miami, offers visitors a chance to explore the world-famous John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the United States. It also boasts the African Queen, the original boat used in the classic Humphrey Bogart film. Heading further south, Key West is known for its vibrant arts scene, historic architecture, and rich maritime heritage.

Visitors can tour the former home of author Ernest Hemingway, visit the Southernmost Point Buoy, and take in the beautiful sunset celebrations at Mallory Square. Both Key Largo and Key West have a rich history of piracy, rum-running, and Cuban influence that have shaped the unique and vibrant culture found in these picturesque island communities. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or just looking for a beautiful and unique vacation destination, exploring Key Largo and Key West is a must.

Planning Your Itinerary: Key Largo or Key West?

When planning your itinerary for a trip to the Florida Keys, it can be hard to decide between Key Largo and Key West, as both offer unique experiences.

If you are looking for a more relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere, Key Largo may be the better choice for you. With its abundance of water sports, nature trails, and a beautiful coral reef to explore, there is plenty to keep you busy during your visit. On the other hand, Key West is known for its vibrant nightlife, lively street festivals, and historical landmarks such as the home of Ernest Hemingway and the southernmost point in the United States.

If you are seeking a lively and energetic atmosphere, you may want to stay in Key West; it may be the better option. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your personal preferences and what kind of experience you are seeking. Whether you choose Key Largo or Key West, you are sure to have a memorable and enjoyable time in the Florida Keys.

Best Activities and Attractions for Families and Kids

Families and kids always have a great time at theme parks and water parks, where they can enjoy thrilling rides and splash around in the pools. Another favorite destination for families is the zoo or aquarium, where kids can see and learn about a variety of animals and marine life. Interactive museums with hands-on exhibits are also a hit with families, providing educational and entertaining experiences for all ages.

Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking in a beautiful park are great ways for families to enjoy nature together. For a more adventurous experience, families can go on a camping trip or visit a farm to learn about and interact with different animals. Lastly, family-friendly resorts and beaches offer a relaxed and enjoyable environment for families to have fun and make lasting memories.

No matter the destination, there are plenty of activities and attractions that cater to families and kids, ensuring everyone has a fantastic time.

Choosing Between Key Largo and Key West for Relaxation or Adventure

When it comes to choosing between Key Largo and Key West for relaxation or adventure, it ultimately depends on what you are looking for in a vacation.

Key Largo, the first island of the Florida Keys, is known for its tranquil and laid-back atmosphere, making it ideal for relaxation. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundance of marine life, it’s the perfect spot for snorkeling, diving, or simply lounging by the water.

On the other hand, Key West offers a more vibrant and adventurous experience. From its bustling nightlife and diverse dining scene to its rich history and lively waterfront, Key West has something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring historic sites and museums or trying out various water sports and outdoor activities, Key West has a lot to offer for those seeking adventure.

Ultimately, both Key Largo and Key West have their own unique charm, so the best choice depends on your preferences for relaxation or adventure.

Optimal Duration for Visiting Key Largo and Key West

The optimal duration for visiting Key Largo and Key West would be around 3 to 5 days. This will give you enough time to explore the beautiful Key West beaches, enjoy various water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. In Key Largo, you can spend a day or two exploring the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, take a glass-bottom boat tour, and visit the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder.

Then, as you make your way down to Key West, you can stop at the famous Seven Mile Bridge and spend some time at Bahia Honda State Park. Once in Key West, you can take a stroll down Duval Street, visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and catch the sunset at Mallory Square. With 3 to 5 days, you can truly soak up the laid-back atmosphere and vibrant culture of the Florida Keys.

Key Largo vs Key West: Budget-Friendly Options and Expenditure

When it comes to budget-friendly options and expenditure, Key Largo and Key West offer different experiences for travelers.

Key Largo, Key Largo’s northernmost island of the Florida Keys, tends to be more budget-friendly than Key West, its southern counterpart. Accommodations, dining, and activities in Key Largo are generally more affordable, making it a great option for those looking to stick to a budget.

Key West, on the other hand, is known for its lively atmosphere and vibrant nightlife, which can lead to higher expenditures. However, Key West does offer some budget-friendly options, especially if travelers are willing to do some research and planning in advance.

Both destinations offer beautiful beaches, water activities, and stunning sunsets, but Key Largo may be the better option for travelers looking to save money. It’s important to keep in mind that both islands can offer budget-friendly experiences, it just may require a bit more effort in Key West.

Finalizing Your Travel Plans: Key Largo or Key West?

As you finalize your travel plans to the beautiful Florida Keys, you may find yourself debating between Key Largo and Key West. Key Largo, the largest island in the Keys, is known for its stunning coral reefs and a more relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a great choice for those who are interested in water activities like snorkeling and diving.

On the other hand, Key West offers a vibrant nightlife, rich history, and a lively arts and culture scene. It’s also the southernmost point in the continental United States, making it a unique and iconic destination.

Consider what kind of experience you’re looking for, like Key West vs Key Largo, and what activities you want to prioritize to help make your decision. Whether you choose to spend your time exploring the natural beauty of Key Largo or immersing yourself in the bustling energy of Key West, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable trip.

Best Places To Stay At Key West

Looking to explore the Keys? Then you’re in luck.

The Florida Keys are an excellent destination for those who want to get away from it all, with plenty of activities for everyone.

When it comes down to where you stay though, there are several options depending on what type of vacation you’re planning on having!

  • The Island House: Offers luxurious accommodations as well as many amenities such as free Wi-Fi throughout their property and an outdoor pool area perfect for lounging during those hot summer days.
  • Ramada Plaza Resort Key West Beachfront Hotel & Convention Center: This luxury hotel offers rooms complete with private balconies overlooking ocean views and provides convenient access to the very best Key West beaches!

Best Places To Stay At Key Largo

There are many hotels, motels, and resorts in Key largo. If you are looking for a place to stay then here are some of the best places for you:

  • Key Largo Inn
  • Sunset Cove Resort & Marina
  • The Palm Court Hotel(recommended)

The Palm Court Hotel is One of the most luxurious hotels in Key Largo. It has beautiful tropical landscaped gardens, a heated swimming pool, and a private beach. The rooms are spacious and luxurious with all the amenities that you would expect from a five-star hotel.

Renting  a Car in Key West or Key Largo

Renting a car is a good way to get around Key Largo and Key West.

If you’re visiting the Florida Keys, renting a car is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful part of the country.

You will want the freedom to go where you want and when you want without having to call an Uber or Lyft.

You can check out the best deals with our special partner Disovercars.com.

Popular Tourist Spots

Key West is a popular tourist destination. It has all the amenities you would expect from a major city: restaurants, bars, and hotels.

There are also plenty of things to do on land and water including tours, shopping, and sightseeing.

Key Largo however focuses more on nature rather than tourism so visitors will find fewer restaurants and bars here compared with Key West; although there are still enough places where they can eat well!

The beaches here tend to be better too because they’re not as crowded as those nearby in Key West which gets very busy during peak season.

Key Largo Vs key West Conclusion

If you’re looking for a vacation spot in the Keys, you’ll have no shortage of options.

Whether you want to relax on white sand beaches, explore historic sites, or dive into the Atlantic Ocean, there is something for everyone.

We hope our comparison of Key Largo vs Key West helps you decide which destination will be best suited for your next trip!


Q: What are the key differences between Key Largo and Key West?

A: Key Largo is known for its natural beauty and is a more laid-back destination, whereas Key West is famous for its vibrant nightlife and bustling atmosphere.

Q: Is it better to spend more time in Key Largo or Key West?

A: It depends on your preferences. If you enjoy water activities like snorkeling and diving, Key Largo might be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you prefer bustling nightlife and a lively atmosphere, Key West would be more suitable.

Q: What are some must-do activities in Key West?

A: Key West offers a wide range of activities, including exploring Duval Street, visiting the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, watching the sunset at Mallory Square, and indulging in water sports such as snorkeling and diving.

Q: How can I travel from Miami to Key West?

A: You can drive from Miami to Key West, which takes approximately 3-4 hours, or take a scenic flight to reach Key West in under an hour.

Q: Which is tastier: key lime pie in Key Largo or Key West?

A: Both Key Largo and Key West are known for their delicious key lime pies. It’s a matter of personal preference, so be sure to try them both and decide for yourself!

Q: What are the best beaches in Key West?

A: Some of the best beaches in Key West include Smathers Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and Higgs Beach, offering crystal-clear waters and white sandy shores.

Q: What are the differences between Key Largo and Key West in terms of accommodations?

A: Key Largo offers a more serene and secluded accommodation experience, while Key West provides a diverse range of lodging options, including boutique hotels, beachfront resorts, and charming guesthouses.

Q: Is Key West more suitable for diving and snorkeling than Key Largo?

A: While both Key Largo and Key West offer excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, Key Largo is renowned for its coral reefs and underwater ecosystems, making it an ideal destination for avid divers and snorkelers.

Q: What are some of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo?

A: Key Largo is home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, offering exceptional snorkeling opportunities among vibrant coral formations and diverse marine life.

Q: Which destination is more accessible: Key Largo or Key West?

A: Both Key Largo and Key West are easily accessible from Miami. Key Largo is the first key when driving from Miami, while Key West is reachable by a scenic drive or a short flight from Miami.

Dream Vacations: 

Need help with flights, you can check out the best deals with our partners here

Photo of author


I’m Nick — a traveler and photographer with a knack for shooting the world’s most beautiful places. Over the last decade, I’ve circled the globe, visiting countless countries, to bring home photos that cross language barriers. With fluency in five tongues, I believe in the power of communication to unlock culture. My travel blog, Traveling Kangaroo (yes, it’s a real animal!), is here to inspire you to take your own leap around this rock. I’ll continue to post about my journeys as I explore everything our world has to offer — one adventure at a time.