The Florida Keys are a beautiful chain of tropical islands off the southern tip of Florida that have captured the imagination of travelers for decades. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Florida Keys but weren’t quite sure what people call them informally, you’ve come to the right place.

The informal name most commonly used for the Florida Keys is ‘The Keys.’ This handy nickname refers to the entire archipelago of islands that make up the Florida Keys.

Overview of the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a unique chain of islands located off the southern coast of Florida. Stretching for about 120 miles, this archipelago consists of over 1,700 individual islands and islets. The Keys are known for their stunning natural beauty and vibrant marine life, making them a popular destination for tourists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Geographic Location and Layout

The Florida Keys are situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, creating a diverse and dynamic ecosystem. The islands are connected by the Overseas Highway, a scenic road that runs through the entire length of the Keys, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding waters.

Key West, the southernmost island, is just 90 miles away from Cuba, making it the closest point in the continental United States to the island nation.

The Florida Keys can be divided into five main regions: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West. Each region has its own distinct characteristics and attractions, ranging from world-class diving spots to charming seaside towns.

History and Development

The history of the Florida Keys is rich and fascinating. The islands were originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Calusa and Tequesta peoples. In the early 16th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the area, followed by English and American settlers in the 19th century.

During the early 20th century, the Florida Keys experienced a boom in tourism and development. The construction of the Overseas Railroad, which later became the Overseas Highway, played a crucial role in connecting the Keys to the mainland and attracting visitors from all over the country.

Today, the Florida Keys continue to thrive as a popular tourist destination, offering a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.

Climate and Environment

The Florida Keys enjoy a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and abundant sunshine throughout the year. The region is known for its beautiful white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and diverse marine life.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities in the Keys, allowing visitors to explore the colorful coral reefs and encounter a variety of marine species.

It’s important to note that the Florida Keys are vulnerable to hurricanes, especially during the Atlantic hurricane season from June to November. However, the region has a well-established emergency management system in place to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.

For more information about the Florida Keys, you can visit the official website of the Florida Keys and Key West tourism board:

How the Nickname ‘The Keys’ Came About

The Florida Keys, a string of tropical islands stretching from the southern tip of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, are commonly referred to by the informal nickname ‘The Keys.’ But how did this nickname come about?

Appearance of the Islands

The nickname ‘The Keys’ can be attributed to the unique appearance of these islands. The Florida Keys are a chain of over 1,700 islands, many of which are small and narrow. When viewed from above, these islands resemble keys on a keyring, hence the nickname.

The term ‘keys’ is also used to describe similar island chains in other parts of the world, such as the Florida Keys’ counterparts in the Caribbean.

Use in Promotional Materials and Media

The nickname ‘The Keys’ gained popularity through its use in promotional materials and media. The Florida Keys have long been a popular tourist destination, known for their stunning beaches, clear blue waters, and vibrant marine life.

In order to attract visitors, the tourism industry began using the term ‘The Keys’ in brochures, advertisements, and other promotional materials. This catchy nickname quickly caught on and became widely recognized.

In addition to promotional materials, the nickname ‘The Keys’ has also been used in various forms of media. It has appeared in books, movies, and songs, further solidifying its association with the Florida Keys.

The laid-back, tropical vibe of the islands is often captured in these portrayals, making ‘The Keys’ a symbol of relaxation and paradise.

Adoption by Locals and Visitors

The nickname ‘The Keys’ has also been embraced by the locals and visitors alike. It has become a term of endearment and a way to express a sense of belonging to this unique island chain. Locals often refer to themselves as ‘Key Westers’ or ‘Keys residents,’ reinforcing their connection to the islands.

Visitors, too, have embraced the nickname ‘The Keys’ as a way to identify with the laid-back lifestyle and natural beauty of the area. It has become a common term used by tourists when referring to their experiences in the Florida Keys.

Other Nicknames Used

The Conch Republic

One of the most popular informal names for the Florida Keys is “The Conch Republic.” The Conch Republic is a fictional micronation that was established in 1982 as a humorous protest against a border patrol checkpoint.

The name “Conch Republic” comes from the conch shells that are commonly found in the area and are a symbol of the Keys’ unique identity. The Conch Republic has its own flag, motto, and even a passport that can be obtained by visitors.

It has become a symbol of the laid-back, easygoing lifestyle that the Florida Keys are known for.


Another informal nickname for the Florida Keys is “Margaritaville.” This name is inspired by the popular song by Jimmy Buffett, “Margaritaville,” which captures the carefree and relaxed vibe of the Keys.

The song, released in 1977, became an anthem for those seeking an escape from the stresses of everyday life. The Florida Keys, with their beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and vibrant nightlife, are often associated with the lyrics of this song.

In fact, there is even a Margaritaville Resort located in Key West, which offers visitors a taste of the laid-back island lifestyle.

The Caribbean of the United States

The Florida Keys are often referred to as “The Caribbean of the United States” due to their stunning turquoise waters, abundant marine life, and tropical landscapes. This nickname highlights the Keys’ resemblance to the Caribbean islands, with their warm climate, palm-fringed beaches, and vibrant coral reefs.

Visitors to the Florida Keys can experience a taste of the Caribbean without having to leave the United States. The Keys offer a unique blend of American and Caribbean cultures, making it a popular destination for those seeking a tropical getaway without the need for a passport.

For more information about the Florida Keys and their nicknames, you can visit the official website of the Florida Keys & Key West.


In summary, while the Florida Keys are the formal name used on maps and by the local government, ‘The Keys’ has emerged as a widely-used informal shorthand. This memorable nickname captures the essence of this chain of tropical isles off the Florida coast, transporting readers to sandy beaches, sunny days, and island time. Whether you call them the Florida Keys or The Keys, these islands continue to enchant visitors from near and far.

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