Without a doubt, Key West should be on your list of must-see places if you’re considering a trip to the Sunshine State. The nicest beaches in Key West, Florida, are a great place to relax in the sunshine and take in the pristine seas. This tropical paradise offers something for everyone, from the boisterous masses at Smathers Beach to the peaceful tranquility of Bahia Honda State Park.
The beaches of Key West, Florida, are certain to satisfy your needs, whether you’re wanting to unwind with a good book, catch some waves with a surfboard, or just take a cooling plunge in the water. In Key West, Florida, be ready to enjoy the best beach vacation ever!
#1. Smather Beach
Smathers Beach is not just the most well-liked beach in Key West; it’s also one of the biggest. It merits a spot at the top of our list of Key West beaches due to its ideal swimming conditions, two miles of immaculate sandy shoreline, and extensive variety of entertaining activities. The beach is a preferred choice for families in Key West due to the gentle slope of the shoreline that allows swimmers to wade into the ocean for a considerable distance and the lack of strong currents. As a result, it could feel a little congested during busy hours. Try to arrive early to secure your space and avoid the throng.
There are many services and facilities that beachgoers can use, ranging from the essentials, including bathrooms and restrooms, to volleyball courts and vendors. Along the beach, there are also a number of rental businesses where you can pick up beach chairs, shade umbrellas, snorkeling gear, kayaks, jet skis, and other water sports gear. Smathers Beach also doesn’t charge an entrance fee.
#2. Sunset Key
A beautiful, crystal-white beach on Sunset Key, just 500 yards across Key West Harbor, welcomes guests with its hammocks and thatched tiki huts. Only resort visitors, who enjoy the pleasure of lodging in charming cottages along the sea, are permitted on the beach. At the Latitudes Cafe, where Chef Todd Holender prepares seasonal island fare with a Caribbean flair for diners who are not guests, you can sample a bit of this 27-acre paradise.
It’s the ideal location for a leisurely lunch or a candlelit meal at sunset because of its elegant toes-in-the-sand atmosphere and views of the Gulf. Their luxurious spa, which offers a full range of services and well-appointed treatment suites, is also accessible to non-guests. The height of luxury is their Sunset Romance Package. Couples relax on the seaside in cabanas covered in thatch while getting 80-minute massages, which are followed by a private dinner.
#3. South Beach
Another family choice in Key West is South Beach. The beach’s calm, shallow waters, which are great for swimming, are a major lure for families. As the name implies, it is situated in the southernmost point of Key West and is renowned for its laid-back vibe. Despite the lack of rental store hordes, there are still a number of excellent beachside refreshment outlets, as well as various possibilities for renting lounge chairs and even towels. A modest café and public water fountains are also present.
The absence of public facilities is the only major negative, especially for families with young children. However, neighboring businesses are good about allowing people to use their spaces, particularly if you’re using their products or services. If you’re willing to stay up late, hang out near the Emma Carrero Cates Pier on the west side of the beach for a fantastic (and quieter) sunset.
#4. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, which is around two miles from downtown Key West, is a fantastic beach with lots to do where you can spend the whole day. Bring your snorkeling equipment and a picnic lunch; there are many grills available. You can locate a fascinating ancient fort inside the park that was used to defend Key West Harbor during the Civil War and is named for President Zachary Taylor. The fort, which is now a National Historic Landmark, features the largest collection of guns from the American Civil War. Watch a breathtaking sunset while you wait until the park shuts at dusk.
The 1,100 feet of private beach at this mansion-style resort is lined with palm trees and swinging hammocks. Your beach concierge will take care of everything if you’re fortunate enough to stay at this classic gem, which is designated on the National Register of Historic Places. He will set you up with a chair and towel while the crew serves you cold cucumber slices for your eyes and tropical beverages.
At Spa al Mare, you are welcome to unwind with a deep-tissue massage or aromatherapy while listening to the crashing waves. Before learning how to build sandcastles with Sand-Isle, have lunch at Sun Sun with the catch of the day and watermelon mojitos. Set your alarm to wake you up in time to see the sunrise. This beach is without a doubt one of the best beaches in Key West, Florida.
#6. Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach Park
The C.B. Harvey Rest Beach Park includes a number of beaches, one of which is the Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach Park, more commonly known as just “Higgs Beach.” A café and gardens are also located in this modest yet charming public space. There are plenty of options at the local rental businesses for those looking to make a day of it, ranging from straightforward beach chairs and volleyball nets to snorkeling gear and water sports rentals.
Families will value the local playground, while pet owners will like the adjoining dog park. Parking is also free, and there are public restrooms and showers available. Higgs Beach’s historical significance is one of its distinctive features. You can explore the area and find memorials honoring the slave cemetery that was there in the 19th century. At Higgs Beach, there is also a pier where tourists can frequently see stingrays and other aquatic creatures.
Book a ferry or seaplane ride to the secluded Dry Tortugas National Park for a wonderful beach day that is truly off the main path. The 100-square-mile park is about 70 miles west of Key West’s coast. The journey to the group of seven islands in the Straits of Florida is lengthy but well worth it. Just so you know, you should pack everything you believe you’ll need for the day, like sunscreen, food, water, snorkeling equipment, and other supplies.
Discover the historic Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, one of the biggest forts during the American Revolution. There are campsites available for overnight stays for serious explorers, and astronomy is amazing.
#8. Higgs Beach
Higgs Beach in Old Town Key West is one of the best beaches in Key West, Florida, and a well-liked location to soak up some sun and cool off in the shallow water. It is not far from Duval Street. Tennis courts, volleyball courts, a playground for kids, and a dog park are among the amenities. White Street Pier extends well beyond the sand, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Kids can also throw bread into the sea to attract fish at the end of the pier.
Beach concessionaire Tropical Water Sports provides a wide range of beach equipment for rent, such as beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and paddleboards. Don’t forget to visit the Key West AIDS Memorial and the African Cemetery, which contains the graves of victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Check out Salute on the Beach, a charming seaside tavern and restaurant, if you’re in the mood to eat.
#9. Simonton Beach
The only public beach in Key West’s downtown area is Simonton Beach, which is a short distance from Mallory Square. Since it is a locals’ favorite location and is small, it is best to go there early to guarantee a position on the sand. A boat ramp, chair and umbrella rentals, picnic tables, restrooms, and a small food vendor are all available on-site. The beachfront restaurant provides a wide selection of water sport rentals, including sunset cruises, and charter trips for snorkeling, fishing, dolphin viewing, and island exploration.
Bahia Honda State Park’s three natural, soft-sand beaches alone would be enough to distinguish it from the rest of the Florida Keys. But when you include the nature paths, unrivaled snorkeling on the reef, and a piece of railroad history, you end up with one of the most distinctive state parks in the nation. The park, which is 37 miles north of Key West, is a camper’s paradise—if you can get one of the prized spaces.
Set up shop at a picnic table beneath one of the three pavilions at Sandspur Beach, the largest beach on the island. Hit the crystal-clear shallow water with a flotation device. The steel trestle train bridge, which is all that’s left of Henry Flagler’s railroad that was wrecked by the hurricane in 1935, casts a shadow over Calusa Beach on the island’s southern coast.
#11. Dog Beach
Dog Beach is loved by pet parents who live in Key West and travel there, despite the fact that it is only a little more than 20 feet long from end to end. The only beach that permits dogs to run loose, dogs of all sizes can play in the sea and explore the rocks for hidden treasure without their human companions having to worry about their four-legged pals shaking saltwater on a sunbather or breaking a child’s sandcastle.
If you have trouble finding Dog Beach and don’t see the small sign, just inquire at Louie’s Backyard. The personnel at this beachfront dog-friendly restaurant will be happy to make things right.
#12. County Beach
This is also one of the best beaches in Key West, Florida. County Beach, which is located between Rest Beach and Higgs Memorial Beach Park, is a lovely small location for sunbathers who aren’t too concerned with swimming (swimmers should head over to the nearby beaches to dip their toes). This man-made beach has a flat, sandy area, but the shoreline is protected by big stones that were strategically placed.
Families with children frequently move to Higgs Beach in the west, where it is typically quieter and less congested. Its lovely location, which backs up to the incredibly picturesque West Martello Tower, is another advantage.
The Best Time to Visit Key West
March through May are the ideal months to explore Key West. The winter tourists will thin out, lodging rates will drop, and the weather will be very similar to the delightful 70s and 80s of winter. Winter, in particular, is the most expensive and busy time of year on the island. The summer’s humid and rainy conditions draw the fewest visitors, yet hotel rates are at their lowest. Although the trade-off can be worthwhile, you are still taking a chance during the season of hurricanes, which is between June and November. Be warned that prices will rise during events like Fantasy Fest and Key West Pride.