US: Call US1-888-490-1280

Other: Other1-281-547-7661

Key West, Florida

By John Sage

Key West Disabled Access Review Key West disabled access is likely the best that accessibility that any cruise passengers will encounter during their trip.  Sidewalk ramps, wheelchair ramps into buildings, and flat terrain will be a welcome sight to disabled visitors.

On the flip side, historic buildings without wheelchair ramps, few taxis for hire, and the need to make advanced reservations for some Key West wheelchair accessible services are a few of the issues that disabled visitors will need to deal with.

I gave Key West a 5 Star Sage Accessibility Rating which is my highest rating.  It is significantly flatter and smoother, with more wheelchair ramps and shorter distances, than many other Caribbean vacation destinations.


View Key West accessible shore excursions


Best Aspects of Key West Disabled Access

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) building standards – Unlike most Caribbean cruise ports including St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Jamaica, Key West buildings are subject to ADA building standards.  This means most buildings have wheelchair ramps at the entrance. The photo on the left shows the Key West wheelchair accessible ramp entrance into the train museum, and the photo on the right shows the flat entrance into Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Flat entrance into Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville

Sidewalk ramps in many places – Like Grand Cayman, sidewalk ramps are present at most street intersections.

Sidewalk ramps Sidewalk ramps


Plenty to see without having to tackle with sandy beaches – Wheelchair cruise visitors won’t need to deal with sand on beaches, because there’s so much else to see!  You won’t be able to see everything even with a full day.  I recommend budgeting your time for 3 Key West wheelchair accessactivities or attractions during a one day cruise visit.

Flat Island – The highest elevation in Key West is just 18 feet above sea level so you won’t have any Jamaican mountains or St. Maarten mountains to climb.

Small Island – Disabled Key West visitors (especially electric wheelchair users, mobility scooter users, and fit manual wheelchair users) might be able to get around the island without using transportation.  The 1.1 mile route from the cruise dock to the famous Southernmost Point is probably the longest distance that tourists will need to walk/roll.  It is shown in the map below.

Route from the cruise dock to the famous Southernmost Point


Worst Aspects of Key West Disabled Access

Brick streets near Mallory Square – One of the most popular locations in Key West is also one of the least accessible.  The streets surrounding Mallory Square are covered in old bricks (shown in the photos below).

Brick streets near Mallory Square Brick streets near Mallory Square

No ramp onto glass bottom boat – Key West’s glass bottom boats have a single step at both ends of the boarding ramp.

No ramp onto glass bottom boat Accessible trolley & train tours require advanced notice


Accessible trolley & train tours require advanced notice – Key West wheelchair access trolley and trains are limited so be sure to make your reservations before you arrive.

Accessible trolley Accessible train tours


MuseumShipwreck Museum doesn’t have elevator to upper floor– The popular shipwreck museum has stairs at the entrance (shown on the left) but it does have a wheelchair lift to get around them.  There is no elevator to reach the upper level.  Instead, disabled visitors can view a video demo of the exhibits housed there.

88 steps to top of lighthouse – Climbing the Key West lighthouse is a popular activity that disabled visitors will need to skip.  There is no elevator to reach the top…just 88 steps.

Few taxis – On my last visit to Key West, I did not see a taxi the entire time I was there.  Of course this also means that I didn’t see any Key West wheelchair accessible taxis either.

Some historic buildings don’t have elevators or ramps– No elevator is available to reach the upper floor of the Hemingway House.  Many of the hotels are housed in historic 19th century homes and have steps at the entrance (examples shown in the photos below).

Hemingway House Hemingway House


View Key West accessible shore excursions