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People visit the Florida Keys because they are like a Caribbean Island, yet attached by Highway 1 to Mainland Florida. Warm tropical breezes, azure blue water, world-class sport fishing and scuba diving are just some of the attractions that draw more than 2 million visitors a year. There is so much more to the Keys than just Key West. Don’t get me wrong, Key West is fantastic! You have to check it out when you visit the Keys, but choosing to base your vacation out of Islamorada can save big. By using our five easy tricks you can save nearly $1000 and see more of the Keys while avoiding the Sunday afternoon traffic back to the mainland.

Betsy the lobster

Fly to Miami / Fort Lauderdale instead of Key West – Save $430 per couple

Air travel, like every service, is priced based on supply and demand. 80 airlines service the Miami airport from over 150 destinations around the world. Fort Lauderdale airport services over 32 million customers a year. Key West, on the other hand, only has six carriers that bring in about one thousand people a day. That’s roughly 365,000 people a year or 1% of Fort Lauderdale.

You pay a premium to land in paradise. Flights to Miami / Fort Lauderdale start at $103 round trip! (often direct too). A flight with connections to Key West begins at $316. That’s a savings of $430 in airfare for a couple traveling to the Keys if the fly and drive which has its advantages too.

Highway 1 and the Seven-Mile-Bridge is one of the most scenic road trips in America. To add a little more fun and adventure to the journey, you can check out an airboat tour in the Everglades at the beginning or end of your Florida Keys road trip.

History of Diving Museum
History of Diving Museum display

Save $393 on Food and Lodging at Islamorada

We researched how much it costs to stay at Islamorada instead of Key West. There was quite a difference. The average cost for a couple to stay at an Islamorada hotel is $102/night with $54/day for food (2 people). The same couple in Key West would spend an average of $211/night and $76/day for food. Our hypothetical couple will save a combined $131/day staying at Islamorada or $393 for a 3-night trip.

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Everything Costs Less at Islamorada ~$100

No matter where you stay in the Keys, gas up in Islamorada. Gas is about 35 cents/gallon cheaper in Islamorada. It turns out everything costs a little less in Islamorada than Key West. Saving $5-$10 dollars on your regular purchases adds up throughout your trip. Whether it’s free beach parking at Library Beach Park , coupons for the History of Diving Museum , renting a kayak for the day vs. taking a tour or finding happy hour specials your sure to save money. If you can’t save at least $100 with these tips, you’re not trying!

Southernmost Point Key West
Welcome to Mallory Square
Key West Rooster
Romantic sunset cruise at Key West

Go on a Day Trip to Key West

Key West is too fun and cool to pass up. It’s 1 1/2 hours down the road from Islamorada and well worth the trip. You can check out the Hemingway House cats, snorkeling, water sports, and other romantic things to do. The scenery along Highway 1 alone justifies the trip. As long as you don’t intend to get plastered on Duval Street, you should be just fine driving back to Islamorada after catching a world famous Key West sunset.

Tarpons at Robbie's
Coconut Shrimp and Conch Fritters

Incredible Islamorada

There is more to Islamorada than saving almost a thousand dollars. Islamorada is incredible in its own right. Islamorada has sunsets too and dozens of restaurants that offer patio sunset dining. You can dive to the Christ of the Abyss Statue at John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park, kayak to Indian Key, feed the tarpon at Robbie’s, or go out on a snorkeling tour with barely a drive down Highway 1. Oh, and by the way, Islamorada is the sports fishing capital of the world too.

Islamorada is ideally situated for your overland Keys adventure. Sitting halfway between Key West and Key Largo, it gives you easy access to the entire length of the Keys. Sunday traffic leaving Key West is no joke, despite the tongue-in-cheek rebellion of the Conch Republic. In 1982, Key West Mayor Dennis Warlow declared the City of Key West an independent nation. The uprising lasted one minute until he surrendered to the commander of the Key West Naval Station and requested $1,000,000,000 in foreign aid. The uprising focused on a border patrol checkpoint that caused traffic jams along Highway 11. The stunt succeeded in removing the checkpoint but traffic is still bad on busy weekends. It’s a lot easier to just get a 1 1/2 hour head start by staying in Islamorada than staging a revolution.

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Amore dive resort boat

Are You Heading to Islamorada Now?

Hopefully, you’re excited about visiting Islamorada soon. The warm blue waters, soft coral sand, blazing orange sunsets, and cool key-lime pie are waiting for you there. We have one more money-saving offer for you. If you think this article was helpful, you can help support writing like this by purchasing off our affiliate links below. This will not cost you anything and helps keep this site going. For us, we make sure all of these vendors are highly well rated. It’s a win-win.

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Dive boat leaving dock in Florida Keys

Betsy the Lobster

Dock in Florida Keys

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