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Key West Cruise Port & Nearby Activities

Key West Cruise Port

With its year-round tropical climate, excellent snorkeling and scuba diving sites and laidback vibes, Key West is one of the most popular ports of call for ships sailing to the Caribbean. Ships pull into three different docking facilities, all of which are in close proximity and situated in Old Town, the western side of the island that hosts a myriad of tourist-friendly spots, including Mallory Square and Duval Street. If you want to stay near your pier, admire can't-miss attractions just steps away, like the Harry S. Truman Little White House or the souvenir shops lining Duval Street. If you have a few extra hours or days in the Florida Keys, don't miss the chance to explore the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, enjoy recreational activities like fishing and parasailing or snap photos of the Southernmost Point, a bright buoy that marks the southernmost point of the United States. Here are the essentials you need to know to decide how to spend your time at port and whether Key West should be on your cruise itinerary.

What You Need to Know:

  • There are three piers Key West cruise ships dock at three separate locations: Mallory Square, Pier B and the Navy Mole. Cruisers that dock at Navy Mole are shuttled via Conch Train or Old Town Trolley to Mallory Square.
  • Adopt a laid-back attitude The city is known for its live-and-let-live attitude, so channel the relaxed local energy during your stay.
  • Appreciate the rich literary heritage The free-spirited nature of the city drew in many of the country's most influential writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost and Tennessee Williams. In fact, one of the top attractions in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where the literary icon once resided.

How to Spend Your Time in Key West:

Things to Do Near the Port of Key West

  • Harry S. Truman Little White House (<0.5 miles) A presidential retreat turned museum, the Harry S. Truman Little White House is a must-see, especially for history buffs. Nicknamed the Little White House because of the high number of working vacations former President Harry Truman took at the residence, the vacation spot continued to host former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Admission to the present-day museum includes a guided house tour.
  • Mallory Square (<0.5 miles) A cultural epicenter within walking distance of all three cruise piers, Mallory Square offers plenty of shops, theaters, museums and entertainment. Make sure to stick around for the Sunset Celebration — though slightly kitschy, previous cruisers rave about the lively atmosphere and excellent vantage points for watching the sun drift down.
  • Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center (<1 mile) The Center features more than 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits. Enter free of charge and watch an introductory film before you check out a 2,500-gallon reef tank, a live reef cam and other displays.

Read On: Top Things to Do in Key West

Popular Tours in Key West

Have a few hours to spare in Key West? Book a tour through your cruise line, explore the city on your own or check out tours available from independent outfitters.

  • Conch Tour Train and Trolleys The world renowned Conch Tour Train has been operating since 1958 and covers the Old Town Historic District. There are also plenty of trolleys that will take you to must-see attractions such as the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory and the Key West Lighthouse. Many popular cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Silversea and Disney, feature train or trolley excursions.
  • Parasailing Get a bird's-eye view of the island from 400 feet above the water. Once you take in sweeping panoramic views of the southernmost key, you may feel a sharp pang of disappointment when you lightly touch down into the water. A variety of cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Regent Seven Seas, offer parasailing excursions.
  • Bike Tour Stretch your legs after disembarking from your ship by sightseeing by bicycle. Pedal your way to the Southernmost Point, the Key West Cemetery and Higgs Beach. Key Lime Bike Tours partners with Royal Caribbean, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas to provide bike trips throughout Key West.
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Relax on the beach, tour the centuries-old fort or snorkel your heart out at this National Historic Landmark. The state park offers guided tours of Fort Zachary Taylor, which was built in the 19th century and used during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Snorkeling equipment can also be rented or purchased at the beach.
  • Pub Crawl Have a fun night on the town with a pub crawl. This two-hour shore excursion is offered by a variety of cruise lines, including Carnival and Norwegian. At each bar, take your pick of a domestic beer or mixed drink and commemorate the event with a souvenir t-shirt.

Restaurants near the Port of Key West

Key West cuisine is heavily influenced by neighboring Cuba. Beyond scrumptious Cuban fare, specialties include conch fritters, pink shrimp and key lime pie. Here are top recommended places to eat near the Port of Key West:

Transportation

Though the Port of Key West and the Key West International Airport (EYW) are located on opposite ends of the city, they are only 4 miles apart. Thanks to Key West's compact size, all three piers are easily accessible by taxi from the airport, and top attractions in Old Town are easily reachable on foot or by bike. Bike shops, such as We Cycle Key West and Island Bicycles, rent out bikes for $10 a day. You'll find Duval Street, a main drag filled with galleries, restaurants and stores, situated near the docks.

Taxi

Taxicabs are plentiful and easy to flag at all three piers and the airport. The fare starts at $2.95 for the first 1/5 mile and 70 cents are added for each mile. A taxi ride from the airport to the Port of the Key West typically costs under $10. From the airport, the rate is around $9 per person to Old Town, $8 to Midtown and Stock Island, and $7 to Newtown.

Read more about Getting Around Key West»

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