14 Best Things to Do When You Visit Key West in August

August 7, 2023

Thinking of visiting the island city of Key West in August? While it’s considered the hottest month, August is the best time of year to visit if you want to avoid the crowds all around. 

The only exception is Lobsterfest which takes place August 10-13 and tends to draw in more crowds during this time. Other than that, if you plan your trip around those dates, you should be fine. 

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From Key Largo to the southernmost city of Key West, the Florida Keys are among my favorite places to visit.  For several reasons. From their laid-back, flip-flop, island-life kind of atmosphere to fun island adventures.

Especially if you enjoy being around water. And with the Florida heat, water activities are an absolute must! 

Between exploring on Duval Street to snorkeling the coral reefs, you won’t fall short of things to do in Key West. 

Embark on An Eco Tour

Embarking on an eco-tour is a great way to learn about Key West’s unique ecosystem and wildlife. They offer an opportunity to explore various native and migratory birds. As well as vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life.  

Tours are guided by experts who share insights and tips on the best way to enjoy these natural wonders. That, in addition to educating visitors on the importance of respecting marine and natural wildlife habitats. 

By choosing to embark on an Eco Tour, you gain a deeper appreciation for Key West’s natural beauty and help support eco-conscious tourism.

Paddling in the Mangroves

One of my favorite things to do in the Keys is paddle boarding. Whether paddleboarding or kayaking, either one makes a fun adventure amidst the clear blue waters and mangroves that surround Key West. 

It’s an absolute must-do if you’re in the Keys and a great way to connect with nature and experience first-hand the unique ecosystems of coastal Florida. 

Mangroves are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They not only serve to stabilize the shorelines and prevent erosion, but they also provide habitat for thousands of species. 

And if you keep your eyes peeled, you may even spot some of the “locals” – From bottlenose dolphins and manatees to rare birds, sea turtles, lemon sharks, and more! 

Just remember to observe from a distance, do not touch, and respect that this is their habitat you’re paddling through. 

Snorkel North America’s Only Living Coral Reef 

Key West in August equals clearer, flatter, and calmer waters which makes it a great time for snorkeling! 

The area is home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States making it a unique and exciting place for underwater exploration. 

As you glide over the corals, you can see a wide range of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and maybe even a dolphin or two. It’s a fun, immersive way to appreciate the biodiversity of Key West’s marine ecosystems. 

The use of reef-friendly sunscreen is strongly encouraged to help protect marine life.

Taking a tour is highly recommended for expert guidance and a more adventurous experience. 

Key West Catamaran and Boat Tours 

here is no better way to experience the pristine blue waters of Key West than by boat or a catamaran. Catamaran’s are amazing and I would highly recommend signing up for a tour excursion

Embarking on a tour offers the opportunity to explore the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys in a totally unique way. These spacious boats glide effortlessly across the water, opening you up to breathtaking views and marine life that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see from the shore. 

Plus, they usually offer snorkeling or sailing, so you can fully immerse yourself in the underwater world. Depending on the tour you choose, some often take you to the sandbars where you can relax, swim, and cool off in the water. 

Between the warm sea breezes, beautiful waters, and a vibrant marine ecosystem this is an experience you won’t forget.

Take a tour of Dry Tortugas National Park 

Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote archipelago of coral islands in the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles west of Key West – the southern tip of Florida. 

The park is home to over 350 species of birds, including the sooty tern, the brown booby, and the frigatebird. And is also home to a variety of marine life including sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles including pelicans.

Additionally, at the center of the park, you’ll find Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. 

Fort Jefferson was built in the 1840s as part of a system of coastal defenses to protect the United States from foreign invasion. The fort was never completed, but it served as a prison during the Civil War and later as a quarantine station.

Dry Tortugas National Park is a popular destination for boaters, snorkelers, divers, and birdwatchers and is only accessible by boat. 

Watch the Sunset at Mallory Square

Mallory Square is a vibrant waterfront plaza renowned for its lively atmosphere and stunning ocean views. It’s considered one of the most popular attractions in Key West. 

Tucked away at the end of Duval Street, Mallory Square is famous for its “Sunset Celebration”, where locals and tourists gather every evening to enjoy the beautiful island sunsets. 

And if you pay attention, you just may get to witness the legendary green flash as the sun sinks into the horizon. It’s definitely a sight to see and one you don’t want to leave Key West without experiencing!

You can also expect to see talented street performers, arts & crafts (perfect for art lovers), live music, local vendors, and food carts offering a variety of local cuisine. The energy, the spectacle, and the sense of community make Mallory Square a must-visit local hotspot when visiting Key West. 

Festivities begin 2 hours prior to sunset and wrap up shortly thereafter. 

Use the weather map below for daily sunset times so you you can plan ahead.

Key West Island Market

The Key West Island Market also known as “Shakedown on the Green” is a weekly farmers market held every Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Truman Waterfront Park. 

The market is home to over 100 vendors, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. There are vendors selling fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, baked goods, prepared foods, and so much more. You can also find locally made jewelry, clothing, art, and unique souvenirs. 

In addition to shopping, the market also has live music, food trucks, and a kids’ corner. It’s a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon with family and friends. Best of all, it’s free admission! 

It’s a popular place on Sundays so be sure to stop by early to get your best pick at local fruits and veggies! 

Rent a Bike or Scooter 

Exploring Key West on a bike or by scooter is a great way to get around the island. Key West is a relatively small island, so it’s easy to get around by bike. You can easily explore all the major tourist attractions, such as Mallory Square, the Key West Lighthouse, and the Hemingway House.

You simply go at your own pace, stop to admire any spot that catches your eye, and take in the charming streets, vibrant culture, and lush tropical vibes that make Key West special. Plus, no parking hassle! 

It’s a fun and enjoyable way to explore the island while getting some exercise and easily meeting new people. 

Enjoy the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden

The Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is located in the heart of Key West and is home to over 2,000 species of plants, including many that are rare or endangered. The garden is also home to various types of animals, including birds, butterflies, and reptiles. 

It is also the only “frost-free” botanical garden in the continental United States. This means it can house tropical plants and trees in the winter months that wouldn’t survive in the colder regions of the country. 

This garden sanctuary has been known as the “Keeper of the Trees” since 1936 and is still thriving today. 

One of the primary objectives of the garden is to promote conservation and education about the importance of preserving tropical ecosystems and biodiversity. 

Visitors can explore walking trails that wind through different habitats, including tropical hardwood hammocks, butterfly gardens, palm groves, and more. 

Explore the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Take a tour of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where you can explore the life and work of one of America’s most celebrated authors. This historic property was home to the famed author from 1931 to 1939 and now serves as a museum dedicated to preserving his legacy.  

It’s one of the most visited museums in Key West. 

Right after the tour, you can stop in at the infamous Moon Dog Cafe next door for a bite to eat. They offer plenty of delicious vegan and vegetarian options and they don’t disappoint!

And be sure to stop by The Cafe right off of Duval on Southard Street for their delicious vegan key lime pie! 

Explore the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is a beacon of environmental awareness nestled in the heart of Key West. The center boasts an impressive 6,000-square-foot facility, offering visitors an immersive journey through the vast ecosystems of the Florida Keys, both terrestrial and marine. 

Exhibits include a 2,500-gallon reef aquarium and interactive displays featuring the unique flora and fauna that inhabit the region. The center’s mission is to provide engaging, educational experiences, and promote environmental stewardship. 

Visitors have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the rich biodiversity of the Florida Keys and the importance of conserving these unique habitats. It’s a fascinating destination for all ages, combining education and entertainment in an eco-friendly setting.

Visit the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory houses over 50 different species of live butterflies from around the world in a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed habitat. 

The conservatory is home to a variety of butterflies, including monarch butterflies, blue morpho butterflies, and swallowtail butterflies. The butterflies fly freely around the conservatory and provides the opportunity to get up close and personal with them.

Educational exhibits and presentations offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the life cycle of butterflies, conservation efforts, and how to create butterfly-friendly environments at home.

In addition to the butterflies, the conservatory also has a variety of other plants and animals, including hummingbirds, turtles, and frogs. It’s a great place to learn about the natural world, making it a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Visit the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens is a popular tourist destination and a great place to learn about the history of Key West. This historic home-turned-museum was named after the famous ornithologist, John James Audubon, who visited Key West in 1832. 

He made sketches of the local birds, and later used these sketches to illustrate in his book, “The Birds of America.” The museum now showcases a collection of Audubon’s work, in particular, the 28 first-edition prints of the birds he found in the Florida Keys. 

In addition to the house, the estate includes a lush, one-acre tropical garden that features a variety of native plants and trees, providing a serene retreat in the heart of the city. Visitors may even spot a few of the bird species that inspired Audubon’s iconic illustrations. 

The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens is a great place to add to your itinerary if you have an interest in art, history, and nature.

Southernmost Scavenger Hunt

The Southernmost Scavenger Hunt in Key West is an exciting way to explore and learn about the rich history and vibrant culture of Key West. This fun and adventurous game is designed for groups and takes participants on an engaging journey around the island’s iconic landmarks. 

Players are given a series of clues and challenges that require teamwork, quick thinking, and a keen eye for detail. Some of the stops throughout the hunt include the Southernmost Point, Hemingway House, and the Key West Lighthouse. 

There are two types of hunts available: the Classic Scavenger Hunt and the Best of Bars Scavenger Hunt.

  • The Classic Scavenger Hunt takes you on a one-of-a-kind, interactive tour of Old Key West. You’ll visit some of the most popular tourist attractions, as well as some hidden gems that only the locals know about. Along the way, you’ll complete challenges and answer trivia questions to earn points. The team with the most points at the end wins!
  • The Best of the Bars Scavenger Hunt is a “Duval crawl” adventure that takes you around some of Key West’s most popular hotspots. Some of which include the world-famous Sloppy Joes to favorite local hideouts. This adult-only event is a great way to experience the nightlife in Key West. You’ll visit 5-6 bars, complete challenges, and decipher the clues and riddles to earn points and move you on to the next. The team with the most points at the end wins!

Both hunts are a great addition to your island adventures and a great way to see Key West while having fun.

Another great scavenger hunt option is the Kooky Key West Scavenger Hunt for more of an artsy, historic, cultural and quirky experience.

FAQs about Visiting Key West in August

Is August hurricane season in Key West?

Yes, August falls within the hurricane season in Key West. The Atlantic hurricane season typically spans from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak season being from mid-August to late October.

During this time, visitors are advised to stay updated with the local weather forecasts and take necessary precautions. However, it’s worth noting that the likelihood of a hurricane hitting during your visit is relatively low. 

If anything, you might get warnings of tropical storms and experience stormy weather at times but even then it’s always something like a brief shower followed by sunshine in the afternoon. You might find it exciting and get to experience a Key West “hurricane” bar party but that’s about it. 

Regardless, I would still recommend having a contingency plan in place when scheduling travel during hurricane season just in case. You never know what nature is going to do so it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is why having good travel insurance is essential no matter the trip. Especially during hurricane season. 

Is August rainy in Key West?

Yes, August is typically one of the rainier months in Key West. The island city experiences a tropical climate and August falls in the midst of its rainy season, which extends from May through October. 

However, rain in Key West is usually short-lived and often followed by sunshine, allowing you to still enjoy outdoor activities. Always remember to pack a rain jacket or umbrella just in case.

Bottom line, when it comes to Key West weather (or South Florida in general!), you can expect to see both rainy days and sunny days. But don’t let that stop you from having a good time and enjoying your vacay!

Are the Florida Keys too hot in August?

August in the Florida Keys is indeed one of the hottest summer months, with the average high temperature often reaching the high 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (around 32 to 34 degrees Celsius). However, the ocean breezes can make the high temperatures feel more comfortable. 

In turn, the high humidity in the month of August makes it an ideal time for water activities like snorkeling, swimming, boating, and water sports. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, use sunscreen and wear light, breathable clothing to stay comfortable during all outdoor activities.

What is the cheapest time of year to go to Key West?

The cheapest time to visit Key West is during the hurricane season, specifically from June to November. This is considered the off-peak season when hotel rates and airfares tend to drop due to the potential for inclement weather. 

Among these months, September and November are usually the least expensive as they mark the transition between summer and winter tourist seasons.

However, it’s crucial that you check weather forecasts ahead of time and be aware that certain attractions or activities might be unavailable or interrupted due to weather conditions.

Hurricane season is definitely a perfect time to book your travel if you want a Key West vacation with fewer crowds, lower hotel prices, vacation rentals, and great deals. 

Be sure to check reviews before booking!


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Sandra Campillo

Sandra Campillo is an eco, vegan lifestyle and travel blogger and entrepreneur. Join Sandra and her community of readers on SandraCampillo.com to learn how to live a healthier, more sustainable, and compassionate way of life while creating a passive income lifestyle.

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