When travelers feel like taking a tropical vacation, two popular choices are Hawaii and the Florida Keys.
Considering that they’re both islands and rely on tourism, you may wonder if there are any real differences between them.
Knowing the differences can help you determine which is better for you when planning a vacation.
Florida Keys Vs. Hawaii (Differences, Pros, Cons)
One of the major differences between Hawaii and the Florida Keys is their locations.
The Florida Keys are on the eastern side of the United States and about as far south as you can travel.
To visit, you must fly or drive from Florida down to the islands.
In most cases, people choose to fly from Miami to the Florida Keys.
Because the Florida Keys aren’t too far from the mainland, you can also take a boat to the islands.
That isn’t always the case with Hawaii.
Hawaii is on the western side of the United States.
It’s also very far from the U.S. mainland.
You can take a plane out of Los Angeles, but other airports will fly you to Hawaii, too.
While there aren’t any ferries that will travel that distance, you can choose to board a cruise ship.
The cruise ship will take you from a mainland port to Hawaii and back.
Depending on the cruise that you choose, you may also end up going to a few other locations.
The Florida Keys and Hawaii are different because they’re on opposite sides of the country.
2. Flight Time
Getting to both the Florida Keys and Hawaii can take a bit of time.
If you’re flying from Miami to the Florida Keys, then it’s a 46-minute flight.
Getting from Los Angeles to Hawaii takes a lot longer.
You can expect to sit on a plane for about 5 hours and 17 minutes.
That’s a clear difference.
The kind of service that you get on each flight is a bit different, too.
If you’re flying to the Florida Keys, then you shouldn’t expect a meal or anything too fancy.
The flight is short, so the airline keeps costs low.
45 minutes is a short flight, so you can probably wait to eat until after it’s over.
Hawaii, on the other hand, is a far longer flight.
Depending on the airline that you choose, as well as what class you’re flying, you might get a meal.
There’s also usually some form of entertainment on the plane.
If you take the Key West Express ferry from Florida to the Keys, then you can expect a boat ride that lasts about three hours.
This is a longer commute to the islands, but if you want to enjoy the water or just relax on the way there, then this is the way to travel.
Despite being longer than a plane ride, the ferry ride to the Keys is still shorter than the time it takes to fly to Hawaii from Los Angeles.
Depending on where you live, traveling to Hawaii takes longer than traveling to the Florida Keys.
When planning a vacation, it’s important to determine how busy the destination you want to visit will be.
For example, if you’re choosing between two destinations, then it’s worth knowing which has the fewest number of tourists.
The fewer tourists that there are, the more enjoyable your vacation is likely going to be.
That’s because when there are lots of tourists, it’s more difficult to book restaurants, hotels, and activities.
The sheer number of tourists can mean that those facilities and events get booked quickly.
Dealing with the increased traffic and frazzled residents can also make the experience less enjoyable.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys are different when it comes to the annual number of tourists that visit each year.
To compare, it’s worth looking at the visitor data in 2018.
It’s difficult to draw conclusions and comparisons from 2019-2021 since the pandemic greatly impacted tourism.
In 2018, Hawaii had 9,888,845 visitors.
The Florida Keys had 5.1 million visitors.
There were more tourists in Hawaii than in the Florida Keys.
This means that the Florida Keys are typically a little less busy than Hawaii.
If having a lot of other tourists around isn’t your idea of a good time, then you may want to consider visiting the Florida Keys instead of Hawaii.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys are different because Hawaii typically has more visitors than the Florida Keys.
4. Number Of Islands
Another big difference between the Florida Keys and Hawaii is the number of islands that each has.
The Florida Keys have over 1,700 islands.
Some of the islands are bigger and more developed than others.
For example, Key Largo is one of the main Florida Keys islands and it’s a place where many tourists choose to spend their time.
However, there are other big islands where tourists can spread out and enjoy their vacations.
Hawaii has 137 islands.
There are eight main ones, but two of them have restrictions on visitors.
As such, tourists can only really visit six of the main islands.
That said, as you’re traveling across Hawaii, you can spot some of the other, smaller, islands in the distance.
The Florida Keys have more islands than Hawaii.
Not all of the islands are accessible or developed in either the Florida Keys or Hawaii.
However, if you care about space or traveling between the different islands, then the Florida Keys has a bit more to offer than Hawaii.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys are different because the Florida Keys have more islands.
Another important difference is the climate.
While both the Florida Keys and Hawaii have similar tropical climates, there is one main difference.
The humidity in the Florida Keys tends to be higher than in Hawaii.
Between July and September, the Florida Keys often experience around 100% humidity.
Between August and October, Hawaii tends to have humidity levels of around 93%.
Humidity can make a hot day feel even hotter.
That’s important to consider when planning your vacation.
For example, if you’re concerned about the heat and becoming exhausted or ill, then you may want to choose Hawaii.
While it’s still hot in Hawaii, you’ll have a little less humidity to deal with.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys are different because the Florida Keys tend to be more humid than Hawaii.
6. Number Of Beaches
No tropical vacation is complete without having a beach day.
That said, you may wonder whether the Florida Keys or the Hawaiian Islands have more to offer.
The Florida Keys have around 17 main beaches.
You can find a few different beaches on each island as well as along the route from one island to the next.
Hawaii has 141 public beaches throughout its six accessible islands.
Clearly, Hawaii has a few more beaches to offer than the Florida Keys.
This is important to keep in mind if you know that you want to spend most of your time on the beach.
Since the Florida Keys have fewer beaches, then there’s a chance that they will all be busy.
Because there are fewer to choose from, it means all the tourists have only so much room to spread out.
Hawaii, on the other hand, has several beaches.
Because there are more options, tourists can spread out a bit more.
While the beaches will likely be busy in Hawaii, too, you stand a better chance of having a slightly less busy beach in Hawaii than you do in the Florida Keys.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys are different because Hawaii has more beaches than the Florida Keys.
7. Crime Rate
Another important aspect to consider when choosing to vacation or move to either the Florida Keys or Hawaii is the crime rate.
No matter if you’re living there or vacationing there, you don’t want to have to worry about crime.
You want to enjoy your vacation or life there.
If crime is something you’re particularly worried about, then it’s worth knowing which destination has the better crime statistics.
Key West, for example, has a violent crime rate of 4.01 per 1,000 residents, according to Neighborhood Scout.
It has a property crime rate of 17.02 out of 1,000 people.
Hawaii has a violent crime rate of 2.46 out of 1,000 residents.
Its property crime rate is 23.31 out of 1,000 people.
More violent crimes occur in the Florida Keys than they do in Hawaii.
However, more property crimes occur in Hawaii than in the Florida Keys.
Unless you live in either place, then you may not care as much about the property crime statistic.
Violent crime, however, should concern you.
Your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Key West is 1 out of 249 people.
Your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Hawaii is 1 in 407 people.
Clearly, your chances of being a victim are higher in Key West than in Hawaii.
The two most common crimes in Key West are rape and assault.
The two most common crimes in Hawaii are robbery and assault.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys are different because they have different crime rates.
Hawaii has more property crimes than the Florida Keys while the Florida Keys have more violent crimes than Hawaii.
8. Vacation Costs
If you’re worried about your budget, then it’s worth determining how much a vacation costs in Hawaii versus what it costs in the Florida Keys.
This can help ensure that you have enough money to spend and will actually enjoy the area that you’re vacationing in.
If you’re too worried about keeping track of every penny, then you’re probably not going to enjoy your vacation.
In Hawaii, you can expect to spend, on average, $274 a day.
In the Florida Keys, specifically in Key West, you can expect to spend, on average, $441 a day.
The Florida Keys are a bit more expensive than Hawaii.
In Hawaii, the average price of a hotel room is $341 for a couple.
You can always find more expensive hotels, of course.
In the Florida Keys, the average price of a hotel room is $211 for a couple.
Clearly, it’s a bit more expensive to stay in a hotel in Hawaii than it is in the Florida Keys.
One reason why that might be is that there isn’t an easy way to get back to the United States once you arrive in Hawaii.
If you need a place to stay, then your only option is in Hawaii.
That allows hotel owners to charge higher prices.
In the Florida Keys, things are a little different.
You can always fly back to Miami and get a cheap hotel.
Since you have a bit more maneuverability in the Florida Keys, hotel owners can’t price gouge as easily.
In Hawaii, the average price for a day’s worth of meals is $61.
In the Florida Keys, the average price for a day’s worth of meals is $308.
Clearly, the food in the Florida Keys is more expensive than in Hawaii.
Finally, the average cost of transportation in Hawaii is $29.
The average cost of transportation in the Florida Keys is $41.
Getting around is more expensive in the Florida Keys than it is in Hawaii.
If you’re on a budget, then traveling to Hawaii may be a better option than the Florida Keys.
Pros Of The Florida Keys
If you’re thinking about visiting the Florida Keys, then you may wonder about some of the pros and benefits of the islands.
Here are some pros of visiting or living in the Florida Keys.
1. Great Weather
One of the best things about the Florida Keys is the weather.
While the humidity can be intense, you never have to worry about snow.
That’s because temperatures tend to stay pleasant during the winter.
It’s rare for temps to get below 50 degrees.
While that might feel cold for those who live in the south, for those who live in the north, it’s going to feel warm year-round.
It’s also incredibly sunny.
If you want to vacation in the Florida Keys, then you typically don’t have to worry about the rain ruining your plans.
2. Vibrant Culture
Another great thing about the Florida Keys is that it has a vibrant culture of southern Americans, African Americans, and Cuban Americans.
This melting pot culture means you can expect great food, great company, and great art.
There are tons of different art museums, live events, and other cultural activities occurring throughout the islands.
You can enjoy the comforts of home while exploring aspects of a different culture.
3. Close To Other Islands
The Florida Keys are close to other Caribbean islands.
This means that you can sometimes also take a cruise to the Bahamas or somewhere else similar.
Visiting the Florida Keys allows you to travel to several other islands.
You can make an entire vacation out of island hopping alone.
Cons Of The Florida Keys
While there are several positives and benefits of the Florida Keys, it comes with its negatives, too.
Here are some cons of visiting or living in the Florida Keys.
1. Hurricane Season
The Florida Keys are located right in hurricane territory.
While hurricanes do often miss the islands, the islands are frequently in their path.
At the very least, you can expect frequent tropical storms during the summer.
If the hurricane is particularly bad, then you may even need to leave the islands for your safety.
Another problem you’ll face in the Florida Keys is traffic.
Most of the highways and roads that connect the islands are two-way roads.
As such, it can be difficult to pass slow drivers.
With a lot of tourists on the roads, accidents are bound to happen.
If you’re traveling to or have decided to live in the Florida Keys, then traffic is going to be a frequent frustration that you experience.
3. Higher Food Costs
It costs the Florida Keys extra money to import food.
As a result, you can expect higher costs for your food.
While you can try and grow your own food if you live in the Florida Keys, if you’re a tourist, then you’re stuck paying for expensive food.
This is problematic if most of your vacation money is going toward food rather than activities.
Pros Of Hawaii
There’s a reason that many people travel to Hawaii every year.
The islands are wonderful, and the people are friendly.
Here are some pros and benefits of visiting or living in Hawaii.
1. Paradise Atmosphere
One of the pros of Hawaii is that it’s practically a paradise.
As soon as you get out of the urban area, you’re surrounded by beautiful beaches, green jungles, and a deep-blue ocean.
From the musical birdsongs to the great weather, the experience you will have in Hawaii is difficult to replicate anywhere else.
Another great thing about Hawaii is its diversity.
There’s a healthy mix of White Americans, Asian-Americans, and Indigenous Hawaiians that make up the population of the islands.
As such, you can expect to learn about all the incredible cultures that come from the Hawaiian melting pot.
Whether it’s art, music, or food, there’s a lot that Hawaii has to offer.
3. The Aloha Spirit
The Aloha Spirit is extremely important to the people of Hawaii.
It basically means that we should be kind and compassionate towards others without expecting anything in return.
The kind of calmness and strength that comes from being kind and compassionate without seeing it as an obligation or expecting a reward comes from a balance of one’s mind, heart, and soul.
Not only do tourists try to achieve the Aloha Spirit in Hawaii, but you can also see it firsthand from its longtime residents.
Hawaii is wonderful because of the Aloha Spirit that exists there.
Cons Of Hawaii
While there is a lot to love about Hawaii, it does have its problems, too.
Here are some of the cons or negatives of visiting or living in Hawaii.
1. Expensive Electricity
One of the problems you’ll have if you choose to live in Hawaii is the cost of electricity.
A major reason it’s expensive is that they have to import oil to run their generators.
If you live in Hawaii, then you may struggle to pay your electric bills.
2. High Housing Prices
Another negative of Hawaii for those who plan to live there is the high price of housing.
Hawaii is a popular place, and many people want to live there for its beauty, food, and people.
That, mixed with the fact that Hawaii only has so much space for housing, leads to some expensive housing prices.
You may find that even a one-bedroom home in Hawaii can be extremely expensive.
No matter if you’re visiting or living in Hawaii, tourism is going to be a problem.
You’re sharing the islands with thousands of visitors most of the time.
This can make it difficult for tourists to enjoy some of the more intimate parts of Hawaii.
For those who live there, it means they often have problems booking tables at restaurants or doing fun activities because they must compete with tourists for reservations.
The Florida Keys and Hawaii share a few similarities, but they have several differences.
The number of beaches, islands, and the crime rate are just some of the differences.
Both locations have their share of positive and negative aspects and are both worth a visit.