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Key West Sunset

Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Key West

Sunset is an integral part of the Key West experience. It’s imbued in the island’s culture. Nowhere else will you find such a simple thing that brings a community together so readily. No matter who you are, why you’re on the island, or what you’re doing at the time, everyone here takes a moment to appreciate the end of another day in paradise.

As a visitor to the island, you’re probably wondering where the best spots to be is as the sun sinks below the horizon. So we’ve collected six of our favorites, each an individual experience with a unique vibe.

Key West Sunset

Top 6 Places to See Sunset in Key West

While celebrating the sunset each day is an island tradition, how you do it is an individual choice. Of course, don’t miss the world-famous Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square if you’ve never been. But if you’ve got a few evenings or prefer solitude over parties, then try each flavor of the Key West sunset.

guided snorkel tour key west

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zach is something of a local’s secret for sunset watching. It’s quieter and more intimate than heading down to Mallory or the pier, and it’s away from most of the bars, shops, and hustle and bustle of Duval.

Fort Zachary Taylor is a Civil War-era fort located on the island’s southwest corner. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, this location has an unobstructed view of the horizon and some of the best sunsets in town. So whether you’re defending the harbor from Confederates and privateers or just looking for a little solitude to watch the sunset, it’s a great spot.

The grounds are located within Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, so you must pay for admission. It’s only a few dollars if you walk or bike in. 

Key West Sunset at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

White Street Pier

Located at the southernmost point of White Street, some locals call it “the unfinished road to Cuba.” Its official name is the Edward B. Knight Pier. It’s a Brutalist concrete fishing pier that sits at the perfect angle away from the island, making it a phenomenal spot to catch the sunset. 

The pier is lined with benches where you can relax with your thoughts. Since nearly everyone congregates on the island’s west end, it’s usually quiet here. Due to its location, sunsets are best here during summer and fall.

Sunset Pier

Sunset Pier is a wooden dock located on the north side of Mallory Square in Key West’s historic seaport. It’s part of the Ocean Key Resort and home to the Sunset Pier Restaurant. The entire restaurant is open-air, and on the pier, so there’s no bad table in the house. Live music is featured nightly, and the vibe is laid-back and perfect for watching the sunset.

Key West Sunset Pier

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration

Mallory Square is a large public square located on the island’s west end and is home to the world-famous Key West Sunset Celebration. Every evening, dozens of street performers and artists gather to wow the crowds. Everyone is there to celebrate the sunset and take in a little bit of the charm that makes Key West such a unique spot.

Mallory Square can be crowded during the season since it is the place to be for everyone’s first time on the island. The cruise ships leave the area an hour before sunset, so you’ll have an unobstructed view of Key West harbor, the tall ship sunset sail tours drifting by, and the elusive green flash. 

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration

Hidden Gem: Simonton Street Beach and Lagerheads Beach Bar

Located at the north end of Simonton Street, Lagerheads Beach is a small affair with a laid-back beach bar. Here you can dip your toes in the water with a tropical drink in your hand, all while watching the day conclude. There’s an unobstructed view of Sunset Key and the Gulf from this tiny patch of sand.

It’s the sort of place with a little live tropical music and a small crowd of folks just hanging out. But the focus is on the sunset, not the celebration. Sunsets are best here during the winter and spring. 

The Best Place to See a Key West Sunset? On the Water! Key West Sunset Cruises

All these are great options, but there’s nothing like seeing the sunset from the water. There are dozens of sunset tours available on the island. For example, if you want a sunset booze cruise Key West harbor has plenty of options. Or, there are plenty of sunset sails in Key West if you want to catch the wind. Many big boats have a cash bar, open well bar with cocktails, complimentary champagne or beer, or hors d’oeuvres, so research your options carefully.

For our money, we like the relaxed vibe of a private sunset tour in Key West FL. The best sunset cruises carry only your party, so you get your own private boat with a captain to show you the sights. You’ll have the best chance of spotting dolphins and wildlife along the way, and you’ll be leaving the crowds behind to do what they do. The emerald waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the setting sun, and a little peace and quiet are the perfect ending to another day in paradise.

Couples sunset Key West

Ready to Book Your Key West Sunset Tours?

Call Captain Zak on the Casual Monday, and he’ll have the boat ready to go for your private tour. Get away from the crowds and see the famous Key West sunset the way it was meant to be seen. He’ll custom-tailor your private charter for an amazing time, whether for a special occasion, a small group, or just a whole new experience. Looking for a sandbar charter or snorkel excursion? He can combine that into your itinerary as well.

Sunset Cruise FAQs

Where is the best place to see the sunset in Key West?

The best spot is by boat. There are tons of sunset sails in Key West, but private boat tours are the best. But if you still want to see the sunset from land, the main party spot is Mallory Square.

Why is the sunset in Key West special?

Key West has a long tradition of celebrating the island’s beautiful sunset. But are our sunsets any more special than any other west-facing beach town? It’s debatable–there’s not much unique about the island’s geography beyond its location at the end of the Florida Keys highway.

What is unique is the community’s attitude toward the sunset. Everyone here, tourists and locals alike, treat the sunset as a special event that should be watched, enjoyed, and celebrated each day. For some, that means a party, music, and drinks. For others, it means taking the boat out and drifting as you quietly reflect on the day with a fine wine or soft drinks.

What is golden hour in Key West?

Golden hour is a term photographers use to describe the quality of light during sunrise and sunset. Golden hour lasts from about 30 minutes before to 30 minutes after sunrise or sunset, although the exact time frame varies depending on your location, time of year, and weather. During this period, the angle of the sunlight is colored heavily by the atmosphere and diffused to produce the best photos.

What time is the Sunset Celebration in Key West?

Folks start gathering for Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square about an hour before the actual sunset time. Sunset happens earlier in the winter and later in the summer, so check your favorite weather app for today’s time.

What time is the sunset cruises in Key West?

Most sunset cruises depart about an hour before sunset. Each tour is different, and the time will depend on the time of year, so double-check the booking website or ask your captain.

How long is the sunset cruise in Key West?

Sunset cruises usually last between one and two hours. They leave before sunset and get back to the dock shortly after.

What do you wear on a sunset harbor cruise?

There are many types of sunset tours, from booze cruises on packed party boats to quiet and private boat charters. Key West offers all sorts of experiences, but there are few formal affairs on this island. Resort casual usually covers everything, although you should consider a light jacket or sweater during the winter. If in doubt, check with your captain, who knows exactly what to expect.

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