The moment you hear ‘Key West Beaches’, your mind’s eye starts imagining a clear blue sky on a warm sunny day, your feet buried in the golden sand, and the clear blue waves of the ocean stretching out for as far as your eyes can see. You would imagine a relaxed holiday with your family, a romantic getaway with your loved one, or a beach party with your friends.
One such place with remarkably beautiful and lively beaches in Key West Florida. It is a U.S island city and also the southernmost point of Florida, around 90 miles north of Cuba. It’s a cruise-ship stop that’s also accessible from the mainland through the Overseas Highway, and it’s known for its lilac-hued, conch-style buildings. It’s better recognized for its coral reefs, which are a popular diving and snorkeling spots but mostly for its beaches.
Much of Key West’s beachfront is rocky or utilized for boat landing docks since the island was formerly a network of coral reefs beneath the water. However, if you’re looking for a sandy beach, this tiny island has several that will provide you with lots of fun in the sun.
This island city is well-known among tourists for its gorgeous natural and man-made beaches. The island of Key West is four miles long and one mile wide. Because of its proximity to Havana, some of the Key West beaches attract more foreign visitors than locals.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Key West beaches to visit for a relaxing day in the sun:
The best public beach in the vicinity is Smathers Beach, which is the largest Key West beach of its sort. West. From Key West International Airport, the two-mile-long shoreline is easily accessible.
Smathers Beach, unlike most other beaches on the island metropolis, which are made of pulverized coral or pebbles and are surrounded by mangroves, has a sandy beachfront as well as a more secluded ambiance.
The beach is open to everybody, however, there may be a parking fee if you utilize the beach parking lot. If you don’t mind walking a few meters ahead of the beach, there is a free parking spot.
Smathers is ideal for families with children since the currents are never too intense and the wide shoreline allows you to walk a long distance into the sea. Swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, sunbathing, and beach volleyball are some of the most popular beach activities. Around the coast, there are a variety of vendors selling food, drinks, chairs, and even rafts.
Smathers Beach, with its gorgeous beachfront, caters to every beach goer’s needs. Spring breakers swarm here, generally barefoot, to take advantage of the volleyball courts. Restrooms, lounge chairs, and a number of stores renting water sports clothing and equipment are all available at the beach.
It’s also where adrenaline junkies may try their hand at parasailing and wobbly-legged first-timers can steer paddle boarders. Couples seeking shade under swaying coconut palms and loners thumbing through dog-eared books in the sun are to be expected.
Restaurants may be few, but local food trucks more than make up for it. They offer low-cost, no-frills food. Burritos, burgers, and quesadillas, in other words.
Higgs Beach, which is close to Smathers Beach, is a calmer alternative to the most popular Key West beach. The beach’s surroundings are just what a tropical setting should be: palm-fringed shoreline, great expanses of sand, and magnificent waves.
The provision of free parking is one of Higgs’ main advantages over Smathers. Cross the street to West Martello Tower, a wonderful park teeming with a diversity of flora and wildlife, if the heat gets to you despite the cool ocean air. Across the shore, there is also a playground and a Dog Park.
Swimming and snorkeling are available at the beach, but only a short distance from the pier. The presence of stingrays is common.
Tropical Watersports Key West, a beach concierge, offers daily rates starting at $30 for two lounge chairs and an umbrella for the entire day. Beach chairs, kayak rentals, paddleboard rentals, snorkeling kits, and volleyball nets are among the other amenities available. At the beach, there are public restrooms and outside showers.
3Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda is about 30-miles from Key West and boasts of some of the most captivating beach vistas in the world. Having been named one of the “best beaches in the United States” by the Travel Channel, it invites beachgoers to enjoy its shallow sparkling waters and majestic pine trees.
A large expanse of silky white sand, gentle waves, and gorgeous campsites with water and power where you may pitch your tent and camp for the night. A boat ramp is also available for a cost, where you can park your boat.
Bahia Honda State Park is an almost isolated island in the southern Florida Keys. There is a lot of aquatic life in the State Park. Scuba divers can readily see rays, small reef fish, barracuda, and even a small nurse shark from the shore. In 1999, the park became home to the only known surviving Miami Blue butterfly, which had previously been thought to be extinct.
This beautiful Key West beach provides opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, canoeing, and snorkeling. Freshwater showers, a refreshment stand, and nature trails winding through lush, subtropical mangroves are all available.
4Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
The island’s only “natural” beach, made of coral stones can be found at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. No one can escape the tranquil, Caribbean blue seas, which are home to schools of parrotfish and yellow snapper, as well as gigantic loggerhead turtles, clawless spiny lobsters, and sleek bottlenose dolphins.
Key West used to be regarded as the “Shipwreck Capital.” The island’s deadly shallow reefs have sunk dozens of unwary ships, which were afterward foraged for gold and treasure by haulers.
Locals regard Fort Zachary Taylor Beach to be the most authentic of all Key West beaches. The beach is largely made up of ground coral and is one of the few natural beaches in the Florida Keys.
The Beach attracts a large number of repeat visitors who come to take advantage of the area’s excellent snorkeling opportunities. Aside from snorkeling, diving in the ocean is also a fantastic experience. Here you may see turtles, dolphins, barracuda, goliath grouper, and tarpon.
Fort Zach, as it is called locally, was originally a real-life fort entirely surrounded by water. The fort is open for visits every day at 12:00 pm. Because it is a state national park, you will be accompanied on your tour by a ranger who will explain the history and background of the place. The Sand Hog Trail and the Fort View Trail are two natural paths in the region.
Key West’s South Beach, not to be mistaken with Miami’s party beach of the same name, has an entirely different vibe: you go there to rest. South Beach is a popular destination for families with children due to the shallow waters. South Beach is also a great place to swim because of its crystal-clear water.
This short stretch of sand, bordered by shallow waves, is a family favorite, thanks to its plentiful lounge chairs and lovely colored shells that demand to be collected. If none of that appeals to you, there are plenty of options for windsurfing and jet skiing.
South Beach is located just off Duval Street, the main downtown thoroughfare, where food reigns supreme. Don’t leave without trying a frozen key lime pie from Kermit’s, a tangy creamy pleasure, or a famous ceviche from Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway’s favorite 1920s hangout.
There are a few water fountains, a beach diner, and a few impromptu shops selling frozen drinks, smoothies, and even wet towels in the area. Instead of paying for a sunbed, you can get complimentary refreshments.
South Beach, at the southernmost extremity of Key West, has a smaller coastline than Smathers and Higgs. You can spread your towel, lie down, and quietly watch the world go by in the relaxed ambiance that surrounds the beach area.
6Dry Tortugas Beach
Despite being over 90 miles away in Fort Jefferson National Park, Dry Tortugas Beach is included in Key West’s coastal attractions courtesy of the Dry Tortugas Ferry. Plan a full day for your visit and be prepared to be awestruck by the park’s natural splendor.
The beach is a palm-lined haven where you may unwind, play, and swim, but the park’s main attraction is its vast coral reef system. Tours of the 19th-century Fort Jefferson are also available. This Key West beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, or simply strolling.
The Dry Tortugas Ferry brings you to the beach and is a fantastic day trip that includes breakfast, lunch, snorkeling gear, and a guided tour of the fort.
If your tickets do not include meals, bring enough food for the day as well as any supplies you may require, as there are no shops on the island. A seaplane journey to and from the beach is an option for more adventurous guests, and those who plan ahead can even spend the night in one of the few campgrounds.
Coming to this little but gorgeous spot, which is not your typical Key West beach, only makes sense if you have a four-legged best friend who wants to have a private beach day. It’s barely 20 feet long and has a lot of wet rocks and seaweed were strewn about, making the soil uneven and slippery.
Dog beach, despite its small size, is adored by pet parents in Key West and visitors since it is the only beach that enables dogs to run freely. Dogs of all sizes can splash around in the water and search the rocks for buried treasure, while their owners can relax and enjoy themselves without bothering about their four-legged companions splashing seawater on a sunbather or stomping on a sandcastle.
If you can’t see the small sign, please inquire at Louie’s Backyard, a dog-friendly eatery just close to the beach.
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Rest Beach, also known as C.B Harveys, may not seem to be the most luxurious Key West beach, but don’t be fooled by its appearance when compared to other popular spots like Smathers and Higgs Beach.
Rest Beach is only about 300 yards long, yet it more than makes up for it in immensity and magnificence during sunrises and sunsets. Rest Beach has the best sunrise on the island, and it is the only sand where you can enjoy a refreshing morning while resting on the beach, thanks to its view of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you miss the sunrise or are too lazy to get up that early, join the bandwagon at Mallory Square Home of the Sunset Celebration to witness what may be the best sunset you’ve ever seen!
If you prefer to attend night yoga classes led by locals, there is a yoga patio on the beach.
Sombrero Beach, on Marathon Key, is one of the greatest in the Florida Keys. The beach is long and wide, with waving palms on either side. The views of the Atlantic are breathtaking. The water is shallow and warm, making it ideal for families with little children or those wishing to work on their tan while lounging in the shallows.
This is one of the few Key West beaches where you may walk for quite a distance along the sand. The beach faces south, but if the waves are really rough, another section of the beach faces west, providing some refuge from the surf.
Sombrero Beach is also a nice place to visit if you have a pet. It’s one of the few beaches that allows dogs (leashed). The beach is located in front of a big park that has picnic tables, sun canopies, showers, a foot rinse station, and restrooms. Some picnic areas include charcoal grills as well as electrical plugs for your electronic devices.
You might be able to join in a spontaneous beach volleyball game at the natural sand courts depending on the day. A walking track and a huge grassy space are located just back from the shore, excellent for throwing a Frisbee or football. There is plenty of parking, and the beach is only a short walk from the parking lot.
Simonton Beach, located right off Duval Street, is one of the smaller Key West beaches with a maximum capacity of only 30 people. Because of its height, most tourists are unaware of it. Savvy travelers head straight for the sand dunes here, which have a designated swimming area and deck chairs that you can rent to relax and unwind in the glistering white sand.
Do not be concerned if hunger strikes. Fresh fish on toasty Cuban bread may be found at Lagerheads Beach Bar & Watersports Shack. If you’re looking for something lighter, try the cold-water oysters with melon and cucumber at the seafood grill that overlooks the port.