Key West is the southernmost city in the United States and the only Caribbean paradise reachable by car. The 4-mile long, 1.5-mile wide island is located 129 miles (208 km) southwest of Miami on the tip of the Florida Keys at the southern end of U.S. Highway 1.
Key West is the southernmost city in the United States and the only Caribbean paradise reachable by car. The 4-mile long, 1.5-mile wide island is located 129 miles (208 km) southwest of Miami on the tip of the Florida Keys at the southern end of U.S. Highway 1. The term key comes from the Spanish word Cayo, which means small island. The Florida Keys are an archipelago of over 1700 islands, 43 of which are populated. These islands are connected to the mainland U.S. by the Overseas Highway, an incredibly scenic engineering marvel that includes the famous Seven Mile Bridge.
Key West is derived from the name given to the island by early Spanish explorers: Cayo Hueso or Island of Bones. According to legend, the explorers found the bones of many indigenous people on the island. Now, the city of Key West occupies the main island of Key West, nearby Sunset Key, and the northern portion of Stock Island. Although within Key West city limits, Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park are part of U.S. Naval Air Station Key West and closed to civilians.
With a year-round population of about 26,000 and an area of only 7.24 square miles, Key West is a small city well-known for having a big heart and slightly eccentric character. Set in sparkling blue waters, with an average temperature of 77 degrees, and plentiful cultural, social, and recreational activities, Key West is a great place to call home.
The Florida Keys and Key West form the northern shoreline of the Florida Strait, the narrow sea passage that connects the Gulf of Mexico with the Atlantic Ocean. Although convenient to the mainland, Key West is far enough out to sea that it seems to be a cultural world apart from mainland America.
Only 93 miles across the strait from Key West, Cuba is the source of many of Key West’s early residents and still-pervasive cultural influences. The island population also has roots going back to the days of settlers, soldiers, and sea farers from New England, the American south, and Europe. Freed slaves, fishermen, and fortune hunters have imparted an exotic blend of African, Caribbean, Latin, and international flavors.
Artists, writers, and adventurers have been attracted to Key West in more recent times, and the island is also a traditional warm-weather retreat of the wealthy and powerful from America’s northeast.
Life in Key West is far from ordinary. The island is a major cruise ship port and private yacht stop-over. It’s a lively tourist destination, with visitors arriving daily by air, sea, and land.
Legendary sport fishing, scuba diving, and water sports are primary attractions. Duval Street and the Key West nightlife and party scene have earned notoriety going back at least to the early 20th century and the days when Ernest Hemingway was a fixture at Sloppy Joe’s bar.
A wide variety of great restaurants, excellent seafood, and a vibrant arts and culture ecosystem ensure that residents of this isolated island do not lack for the finer things in life.
The Key West property market is as eclectic as the city itself. On offer is an exciting mix that includes everything from vernacular Conch houses, beach cottages, restored Victorians, modern condominiums, and suburban family homes to luxury mansions on private islands.
The city is comprised of many distinct neighborhoods split by streets and lanes shaded by lush tropical foliage. Beyond the bustle of a modern tourist destination, a real sense of small town community prevails, combining with all the amenities of a tropical paradise to make Key West a wonderful place to establish a seasonal get-away spot or permanent home.