Travel Tips

General Information

There are two ways to drive through southern Florida to the Keys. One is down the west coast from Tampa coming down Rt 75 south, to Naples and then crossing the Everglades until you get to Ft. Lauderdale. There you head directly south on Rt 821, or Rt 95, or Rt 1. When you hit the southernmost city (Homestead) you’ll take Rt 1 all the way to Key Largo. You’ll have an option, within a mile, to take the alternate route of Card Sound Road (Rt 905A) which will take you towards the northern end of Key Largo. This is a couple miles further from the Pilot House and there is a small toll. This is a popular route with motorcyclists (see below).

On either route you’ll spend about 20 minutes on a causeway, try to see it during daylight as it’s an incredible ride. Once you get onto Key Largo you continue on the Overseas Highway (Rt. 1) for about 4-5 miles


From Ft. Lauderdale airport it takes about 1.5 hours or a bit more during business hours to get to the Pilot House. From Miami it's about 1 hour. You can also fly into Tampa and take the route described under General Information to get here, it a great trip right through the Everglades, but it is a long one.

We don’t advise flying into Key West unless you are staying there at the beginning of your trip. Flights there and rental cars can be expensive, but some major carriers like JetBlue link there. There is also the Florida Keys Marathon Airport which services small charter aircraft. It’s great if you have your own plane and there are all types of ground transportation available from there to Key Largo. I love this app which has an “agony” indicator to compare flights:

Train Service
You can take Amtrak from anywhere as far south as Miami. At that point you can pick up one of the bus/shuttle services listed under “No Car” below.

Your Own Vehicle

There is plenty of parking at the marina. See About the Marina for details. The keys are popular with motorcycle enthusiasts, clubs not gangs, and they often come down Card Sound Road to stop at Alabama Jacks roadhouse and seafood shack. It is an experience!

We recommend you take the Florida Turnpike (Rt 821) as soon as you can, from the Ft. Lauderdale region. Don’t freak out when you see no toll booths. Billing is electronic and will take photos of your license plate and bill you later. If you have a SunPass prepaid gizmo attached to your windshield the cost from Ft. Lauderdale to Homestead is $7.28. If you don’t you’ll be billed under “Toll-by-Plate” which costs $5.20 + a $2.50 administration charge, or about $15 round trip. From Miami with SunPass its $5.20 roundtrip, or about $12 roundtrip with Toll-by-Plate. See FloridasTurnpike for more information.

Rental Car

Reserve a rental car at either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami airports. I like to use Cheap Car Rentals - AutoSlash which automatically searches for cheaper car rentals and cancels your reservation and opens a new one when it finds a cheaper price. Rental cars using the Turnpike are covered under Too-by-Plate and the charges will be automatically added to your rental car bill. Figure $18 round trip from Ft. Lauderdale and $10 from Miami.

TIP: during peak seasons the price can be astronomical for a car rental anywhere in the “triangle” from Orlando-Tampa-Miami. This is the highest car rental market in the world. That means you can get incredibly inexpensive rates (I’ve paid $99 for a week including taxes and fees). It can also mean very costly rates during some weeks. Seek a rental agency “off airport” as there are shuttle buses that will take you there. A few minutes away from the airport can save you much money during, say, Christmas.

No Car
We’ve had folks who fly in to join up with friends or family already on the houseboat; thus, the new arrivals may not want or need a car. We recommend just driving to the airport to pick them up, as it’s usually a two or three hour roundtrip depending on which airport.

For information about Greyhound Lines, the Keys Shuttle, the Florida Keys Express Shuttle see “Ground Transportation” towards the bottom of this site:
Travel to the Florida Keys. All three service both airports and the latter two outfits offer door-to-door service.

There is an inexpensive route to the airports from the Florida Keys Diver Center at Mile Marker 90.5 on Islamorada that involves four transfers but no walking that takes about 4 hours to get to Miami Airport. You can read details about it here: