Ultimate Key West Packing List With a Check List

Are you planning a trip to Key West, FL, and just want to double-check what to pack? Well, I have been to Key West many times growing up and lived in Florida for half my life. So, I think it is safe to say I know some of the top essentials you will need for your trip. In this Key West packing guide, you will find everything you should pack, along with outfit ideas depending on the season.

The amount of clothing you pack depends on the number of days you’re staying, but this packing list will provide you with the necessities to bring overall. You ready? Let’s dive in! Oh, and I included a free Key West packing list to print out and you can find that at the very end!

If this is your first time visiting, have a look at these Key West travel tips.

Key West Packing List - Samantha at the beach

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Breathable Shirts

I am starting off with the obvious clothing items like shirts and tank tops. I would stay away from the color black if possible and pack items that are light and breathable – especially during the warmer months. I have gotten some really great light-weight shirts from Old Navy recently.

Samantha leaning over the balcony at Hemingways home wearing jeans and a breathable tank top

Sun Dress

For the ladies, no matter what time you visit Key West, there should be at least one day that is sundress weather. Even during our last trip in December, we had temperatures in the low 70s. I find a lot of summer dresses from SheIN. Here is the dress I am wearing below.

Mile Marker 0 in Key West with Samantha wearing a white dress

Shorts

For both men and women, having a pair of shorts is a great piece of clothing in Key West. This island is pretty casual, and shorts are easy to put on top of a bathing suit or while on a boat. Ladies, I know you don’t want your dress flying up!

Bathing Suits

I mean, this wouldn’t be a Key West Packing list without bathing suits. Even during the winter months when the water might be too cold, it won’t change the fact that it is still a beach day, so don’t forget to bring at least 1 with you.

For warmer months, I recommend at least 2 bathing suits. This way, you can alternate between the wet ones. We spent a weekend in Key West, and I am glad I had more than one. Both bathing suits I am wearing are from Victoria’s Secret, but I have also found good bathing suits from Amazon.

Samantha wearing a Bathing suit and straw hat on the sand by the ocean in Key West

Bathing Suit Cover-up

You can never go wrong with a cute bathing suit cover-up, especially in Key West. This is a beachy town, and you may even see people walking in the streets with just a bathing suit cover-up on.

Smathers Beach in Key West - a must with a weekend in key west itinerary

Romper or Paper bag Pants

During the mornings and at night, Key West can get chilly. This is especially true in the winter months. That is why I always recommend some longer pants for both men and women. For the men, you might even want to bring a nice pair of pants if you plan to go for a nice dinner. Here are the pants I am wearing below.

Fort Zachery Beach area in Key West
Fort Zachery Beach area in Key West

Shoes for Key West

An obvious one, I am sure, but don’t forget your sandals! I always recommend a pair that can get wet by the beach. Shopping is really expensive in Key West, so I wouldn’t recommend getting a new pair here if you don’t have to.

Depending on the activities you are planning on doing, water shoes may also be a good idea. Key West beaches are more rocky with coral, so this can help protect your feet.

During the cooler months, I even suggest bringing sneakers. My feet were freezing in the morning, with temperatures in the 40’s. Plus, we did a ton of walking in Key West, so having the sneakers was really nice.

Beach flip flops for Key West Packing List
Fort Zachary Direction sign is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Key West

Warmer Clothes For Winter Months

I have mentioned it a couple of times, but if you’re planning to visit Key West in the winter months, I recommend adding some warmer clothing to your packing list. I bought my fleece jacket and jeans, which I was very happy to have during the morning and at night.

It can also be windy in the winter months, which adds to the cold. You should have a better idea of what to pack for layered clothing a week before your trip. Just make sure to check the weather forecast. Although I have lived in Florida for 16 years, I was even surprised by how cold it got.

Samantha and Alex in front of the Southernmost Point Bouy

Motion Sickness Remedy

If you’re heading to Key West, you won’t want to forget to pack your motion sickness remedies. This is because it is basically a right of passage to get on the water when visiting. I like using sea bands, but you can opt for Dramamine or anything else you feel comfortable with

Sailboat in Key West from Fort Zachery

Cooling Towel for Summer

The summer in Key West is hot…like really hot. So, if you’re one of those people who get hot easily, I would suggest a cooling towel or even one of those little fans to bring along with you.

Dry Bag

I never travel to beach destinations without my dry bag. This is great for any water activities you may be doing, such as kayaking or even on the boat. Sometimes, I even bring it into the ocean with me since I don’t like leaving my valuables behind on the beach.

Beach items for beach bag vacation

GoPro or Underwater Camera

As a content creator, it only makes sense for me to have an underwater camera. But, Key West has some amazing coral reefs and wildlife, so I think you can definitely benefit from having some type of underwater camera as well. This can even be your cellphone with an underwater case. You can see all my camera gear here.

Travel Snorkel Gear

As mentioned above, Key West has some incredible reefs. You can even see some nice fish right off the beach. This is why I recommend adding a little snorkel travel kit to your Key West packing list. Unless you’re doing a tour, it can be a pain to get good snorkel gear while there, and it will cost you an arm and a leg.

Quick Dry Towel

Quick dry towels are a lifesaver when it comes to beach travel. They are small, compact, and sand-resistant. You can’t really ask more for a travel towel, in my opinion. You can see mine in the photo below at the beach. I use Dock and Bay.

Beach Bag

Although Key West is technically not known for its beaches, there is no doubt you will find yourself at one of them when visiting. One of my favorite beaches in Key West is Smathers Beach, but that is beside the point. So, don’t forget to pack a small beach bag with you.

Samantha sitting on the sand with her beach bag, towel, and hat looking at the ocean in Key West

Waterproof Phone Case

Since you will surely be in the water at some point, don’t forget to add one of the waterproof cases for your cellphone to your Key West packing list! This is the waterproof phone case I have been using for years now with no issues. The plastic doesn’t feel the best, but it works, and that’s all that counts for me.

Battery Pack

No matter where I go, a portable battery pack is one of my travel essentials. When I am out all day taking photos and using my GPS, the battery on my phone drains quickly. The last thing I want to do is spend useless time at a shop trying to charge my phone.

Sunscreen

Seems obvious, right? But I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten to pack it. So, this is your reminder to bring sunscreen from home because it’s probably more expensive in Key West. Also, I think it is so important to help protect the coral reefs, so using reef-friendly sunscreen is important. Juice Beauty (this one can be brought in a carry-on) and Blue Lizard are the two I use and recommend.

Juice Beauty Sunscreen in the sand at beach

Chapstick with SPF

I also always like to pack chapstick that has SPF in it any time I am visiting sunny destinations. If you have ever had blistered lips, you know where I am coming from on this one.

Bug Wipes

It is Florida, so you know there are bugs. Although I must say, we didn’t have to use our wipes this past trip since the weather was much cooler, but you never know. You can get spray or wipes, but since I travel with just a carry-on, the wipes are better for me.

Reusable Water Bottle

Key West does its best to be eco-friendly since it is surrounded by water. Even our hotel had refillable water stations all around the resort for you to help reduce plastic. I bring a reusable water bottle with me regardless of where I travel anyway. It is very important to stay hydrated when you’re traveling, especially when it is somewhere hot like Key West.

Bahia Honda State Park in the Keys
Bahia Honda State Park in the Keys

Vacuum Packing Bags

These are my traveling secrets to being able to pack with just a carry-on bag. They compress all your clothes down and help you stay more organized, too. You just put your clothes in them and roll the air out. These are the vacuum packing bags I got.

Travel compression bags are a essential

Sunglasses and Sunhat

You won’t want to head to Key West without your sunglasses and a nice hat. I suggest sunglasses that are polarized since it is usually really sunny in Key West. You could get a hat in Key West, but I always bring my own hat since I have a small head, and not all hats look good on me.

Samantha wearing a red bathing suit and straw hat in Key West

Other Key West Packing List Items

Now that we have all the essential items down for your packing list, here are the other items you probably won’t want to forget. You can get most things in Key West at CVS or Walgreens, but their prices are steep. For grocery items, you can also go to Publix. You might also benefit from checking my essential packing list.

  • Undergarments
  • PJ’s
  • Socks
  • Shaver
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, soap
  • Deodorant
  • Frizz spray (if humidity is not your friend)
  • Belt
  • Medicines
  • Hair ties & Femmine products
Key West Packing List Check List

Key West Packing List Wrap-up

So there you have it: all the essentials for a trip to Key West, Florida. Enjoy all the fun in the sun now that you know you will be properly prepared. If you have any questions about my Key West packing guide, found it helpful, or feel I forgot a vital item, let me know in the comments below!

Did you find this Key West Packing list of things to bring and wear helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Key West packing list
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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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