What to Wear in Key West: Packing Tips for the Florida Keys

Planning a trip to the Keys? Wondering what to wear? Here are a few packing tips for the Florida Keys!

I grew up in south Florida and we used to visit the Keys frequently when I was a child. My husband and I recently took a road trip through the Keys so that I could show my him the place where I grew up.

I still love the Keys. It is truly one of my favorite spots in the world. Such a unique and beautiful place!

Here are some ideas for what to wear in the Florida Keys as well as some general packing tips!

What to pack for the Florida Keys? A sun hat! Girl in a red convertible on the beach in the Florida KeysPin

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Prepare for South Florida Weather

Let’s talk about the weather in the Florida Keys!

Did you know that the Florida Keys are the closest you can get to the equator while still being in the United States?

It is warm year round. It is also humid so the high temperatures will feel a little hotter.

Fortunately the Keys are surrounded by waters that help to moderate the temperatures a bit and typically there is an ocean breeze. But it will be hot most of the year.

The other thing to know is that there isn’t a great deal of fluctuation between daytime and nighttime temperatures. In other words, it doesn’t cool off a lot at night.

The only major weather related thing you need to concern yourself with in the Keys is hurricane season!

Hurricane Season:

Hurricane season starts June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. The season peaks in August through early October as surface temperatures in the Atlantic hit their highest temperatures.

I have actually been in the Keys when a hurricane was approaching and evacuations had begun. Let me tell you…evacuating on the small highway that runs through the Keys is not fun.

Keep an eye on the weather if you plan to travel during hurricane season!

January – March:

Highs are in the mid to high 70’s and lows in the mid to high 60’s. These are the months when a cardigan or windbreaker might come in handy.

The skies are typically sunny and it is a great time to explore because it isn’t too hot!

It is also high season in the Florida Keys because everyone wants to enjoy the nice weather.

April – June:

Beautiful and warm!

The highs will be in the mid to high 80’s and the lows in the mid to high 70’s. A gorgeous time to go to the Keys in my opinion.

July – September:

Hot and humid, but less crowded.

High temps are in the 90’s and lows are in the high 70’s to low 80’s. This is where things start to get a little dicey because although hurricane season begins in June it peaks in September.

October – December:

Hurricane season comes to an end in November. The temperatures start to cool a little with highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid 70’s. December can be pretty busy with tourists. I love November in the Keys!

You might be interested in planning a wonderful trip through the Florida Keys

Packing Tips for Key West and the Florida Keys

What do People Wear in the Florida Keys? What is the General Style?

You will find that the style in the Keys is very casual! People are definitely not “done up” here.

  • Casual, casual, casual! Tanks, shorts, and flip flops everywhere.
  • Comfortable clothing is favored. You will want to wear breezy dresses when the weather is warm. On the few cool days go with leggings or joggers or even shorts topped with a jacket.
  • Shorts are acceptable almost everywhere!
  • Sandals and flip flops abound and can be worn almost anywhere.
  • It’s fine to throw a cover-up over your swimsuit to go in a store or even many restaurants.
  • Think island wear, easy sundresses, cute coverups, shorts
  • Lots of bathing suits
  • Short sleeves T-shirts and tanks
  • You can definitely wear color in the Florida Keys

What to pack for Key West and the Florida Keys

Bring shorts, beach coverups, bathing suits and dresses! People in the Keys are all about comfort and rarely wear long jeans. You will see a lot of people wearing denim shorts through!

Almost anything goes when it comes to swimsuits in the Florida Keys. From the skimpiest bikini to full coverage swim shorts and tops.

If you are going to snorkel then a little more coverage is always a good idea to protect from the coral.

Swimsuits…

Click on the links to check out these bathing suits.

I love a nice high waist two piece! It is one of my favorite styles. This is a cute one with a ruffley top. It has almost a nautical feeling. Click through to see the different patterns and colors available.

This boy short style swimsuit would be perfect if you are going to be more active! You could wear this to go snorkeling or kayaking. It also comes in a variety of colors!

If you want to go with a true bikini this one in a solid color with the criss-cross back would be a great choice. It gets great reviews and would be easy to wear.

…And More Swimsuits.

Here is a classic retro one piece swimsuit! The ruching is super slimming and it comes in more than 30 colors and patterns!

I love this adorable two piece! The top has a criss-cross shape that will give you quite a bit of coverage and it comes in a bunch of adorable patterns and colors.

Another itsy-bitsy cute bikini! I really like the black color with the white trim. The high cut legs are so cute and flattering.

Swimsuit Cover-ups

You will definitely need to pack a couple of great swim suite coverups on your trip to the Florida Keys. They are perfect for running into a store or a great little restaurant.

shorts and Breezy Dresses

One of the best packing tips for the Florida Keys? Bring shorts and breezy dresses! Here are a few of my favorites:

These original Levis would be cute to wear walking around in Key West. They come in plain blue denim as well as a bunch of other colors and patterns and styles.

You can never go wrong with a great pair of white shorts. I really like the distressing on these!

Here is a cute sleeveless swing dress that comes in a ton of different colors and patterns.

I adore this little spaghetti strap dress in a pretty floral print and a tie at the waist.

Flip Flops

Seriously, some flip flops have got to go in your bag when you are packing for the Florida Keys! You can’t go wrong with a pair of pink Havaianas!

More Miscellaneous Things to Pack For Key West and the Florida Keys

Reef Safe Sunscreen

You are going to want to protect both your skin and the gorgeous reefs in the Florida Keys. The sun in the keys is intense so definitely be prepared for that! This reef repair sunscreen is both all natural and water resistant.

Water Bottle

You will definitely want to stay hydrated in the Florida heat! Plan to carry a water bottle with you for sightseeing and outdoor activities! You can carry one like the Takeya which I really love.

A Sun Hat

In the Florida Keys you will definitely want to wear something on your head to protect you from the sun. I love hats! A cute straw hat is one of the best things to wear in the summer. This straw hat is adorable and is foldable for travel!

Sunscreen Lip Balm

You will also need some sunscreen lip balm for extra protection from the sun. We really like the Banana Boat brand.

Waterproof Phone Case

I like to protect my phone from the sand and salt water with this waterproof phone case.

Underwater Camera

Ok, I can’t claim that an underwater camera is an essential item to back for the Florida Keys…but it sure would be fun! You will probably be spending some time looking at the beautiful reefs under the water.

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is one of the top rated and the gopros are always a favorite.

However, if you are looking for something less expensive you can get one of these Dragon touch 4K action cameras (the one pictured) for well under $100.

Sea Salt Hair Spray

You may find that your hair goes a little crazy in the keys! I know mine does. I end up having to wear it curly due to the Florida water and humidity. I love this hair sea salt spray! It has UV protection and will give you a fun beachy look!

General Packing Tips For ANY Destination

Now that I’ve given you a few specific packing tips for the Florida Keys let me give you a few packing tips for ANY destination!

Always, Always Check the Weather Before You Leave

It is best not just to assume that you know what the weather will be.

Always check the weather report in the days before you take a trip. This will give you time to add or remove a jacket, throw in an umbrella, or completely redo what you had planned to bring.

Ok, let’s be honest, for the Florida Keys you can pretty safely assume that the weather will be warm – at least about 95% of the year. There are a few odd days in January or February when it might be cooler – you might need a lightweight jacket.

What you are really looking for when you check the forecast for Florida is storms! Check for tropical storms and hurricanes before you plan your trip.

Are You Packing Light or Bringing Whatever You Want?

Decide how much you want to bring before you start packing.

Some of this may depend on how far you are going and whether or not you are flying or road-tripping. Honestly, If we are taking a road trip I pretty much bring whatever I want.

When I’m flying I pack much lighter. In fact I often pack in a carry on when I’m flying. It’s crazy, but sometimes I bring less on a trip to Europe than I do on a road trip to the next state.

It’s pretty easy to pack lighter when you are going to a warm weather destination like Florida!

What About Luggage?

Do you want something on wheels or do you want to carry your luggage on your back?

I’m a wheels person myself!

I do love the Away Bag Bigger Carry On and I have it in pink! However, it is a little pricy!

If you are looking for a carry on that is high quality but a little less expensive check out the Amazon Basics Carry On. It is under $100 and gets great reviews!

Roll or Fold?

Almost every packing guru will tell you that you need to roll your clothing rather than fold them. Y’all, I just can’t do it! I’m a folder not a roller.

However, I do LOVE using packing cubes and definitely recommend them. The ones pictured are my favorite packing cubes.

You can divide items up anyway you like: by outfits, or tops in one and bottoms in another…pajamas, swimwear, etc.I personally like to set up outfits, but do whatever works for you!

If you are really trying to squeeze a lot into a small suitcase you can use these Compression Cubes by Eagle Creek!

It’s all about the Layers

When you travel you are always going to want to think about packing in layers.

As you put together your outfits always ask yourself questions like: Do I have something I can throw on over this if it gets cool in the evening. Or, will I still like this outfit if it gets hot and I have to take the jacket off?

In this case you are packing for the Florida Keys. You really don’t need to worry too much about layers! Throw in a lightweight sweater in case it is breezy at night or the air-conditioning is too cool in a restaurant or store.

My favorite layer is typically a denim jacket, but denim is a little too heavy for this part of Florida. When packing for the Keys I would bring a lightweight cardigan and/or a lightweight wind breaker.

  • I really love this crocheted cardigan! It is very lightweight and would even be cute as a beach cover up.
  • If you want to bring a lightweight jacket or wind breaker this one is a great value and comes in several different colors!

A Few More Basic Packing Tips

Put the heaviest items towards the wheels of a rolling bag or in the bottom of your backpack. This will make a rolling bag more stable and not as likely to fall over and it will make your backpack more comfortable.

Bring a bag for laundry that will keep the dirty things separated from your clean items. Bring a bag specifically for wet items if you will be doing some swimming or working out!

I love this striped travel wet bag and it comes in a ton of colors and patterns. A wet back is especially important when you are traveling places where you will be in the water a lot.

Choose travel friendly fabrics (meaning things that don’t wrinkle) You don’t want to spend your vacation ironing do you? However, if you do bring something that wrinkles consider using this travel steamer instead of an iron.

Make a Packing List Before you Go on Your Trip

If you start thinking about things to pack in the week before your trip you will have time to grab any extra items that you might need rather than rushing around at the last minute.

Another thing that I find that makes packing easier for me is to…

Pack by Outfit: Know what you will wear before you go!

Pack by outfit! This way you won’t bring individual items that you don’t actually need and won’t wear.

Lay things out before you put them in your bag. This enables you to see what you don’t really need or what you might be missing!

Couple in the Florida Keys. Packing tips for the Florida KeysPin

Thanks so much for stopping by!

I hope that this post helps you as you pack for your vacation to the Florida Keys! It truly is a magical place. I would love to hear about your trip in the comments.

I also have packing lists for a Texas Vacation and for a trip to San Francisco!

Thanks for sharing!

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