If you are planning a Key West vacation, spending some quality time at the beach is a top priority on your travel itinerary. Boasting temperate waters and more than 3,400 hours of annual sunshine, the beaches of Key West are some of the most popular destinations on this tropical island paradise. You can enjoy the sun, sand and warm water as well as a variety of activities like swimming, snorkeling and fishing.
Boasting a half-mile stretch of soft, white sand, Smathers Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Key West. The longest beach on the island, it is the center of action during spring break when hundreds of college students descend on Key West. The rest of the year, the man-made beach is great for children because they can wade a considerable distance from the shoreline without the risk of a sudden drop off or a strong undertow. There is also a spot for snorkeling. Lined by beautiful palm trees, the beach has plenty of shade. In addition to beach chairs and umbrellas for relaxing in the sun, you can also rent equipment for jet skiing, kayaking, parasailing and windsurfing. Nets are available for beachgoers who want to play volleyball.
Located on South Roosevelt Boulevard, the beach has all the major conveniences. There is ample parking, restroom facilities and showers along with concession stands and picnic tables. The sidewalk along Roosevelt serves as a seaside boardwalk for scenic walking, jogging or bike riding. The Fort East Martello Museum is a short walk away. The beach is open every day from 7am to 11pm. Access is free for all beach goers.
Locally known as the unfinished road to Cuba, the monumental White Street Pier is a popular fishing spot. Stroll along the pier, and watch tropical sea birds compete with anglers for the catch of the day. The AIDS Memorial is located at the foot of the pier, which also provides beautiful views of Key West. Adjacent to the pier is the dog-friendly Rest Beach, which is also known as C.B. Harvey’s Beach. This small 300-yard-long beach has several picnic areas. It is a wonderful place for viewing the spectacular sunrise while you take an early morning walk. Situated west of the beach is the historic West Martello Tower that the Key West Garden Club has transformed into a colorful botanical garden. C.B. Harvey Rest Beach Park is situated just inland from the shore. While palm trees offer shade, restroom facilities are a short walk away. Open daily from dawn until 11pm, the recreation area has plenty of parking and does not charge an admission fee.
Higgs Beach offers the quintessential Key West beach experience complete with tropical palms casting their long shadows across the sand. The romantic setting is a popular destination for locals and visitors who dream of a Key West beach wedding. The white sand and wooden pier are ideal spots for working on your Florida tan. And the beach offers umbrella rentals for those who prefer a shaded oasis while enjoying the sea breeze.
With free parking, you can pull up close to the beach and easily unload your family’s gear and coolers. In addition to a restaurant and picnic tables, the beach has tennis and volleyball courts. Your little ones can swim and build sand castles while the adults relax. Featuring swings, a slide and other recreation equipment, the Astro City playground is located just across the street. Higgs Beach is located near the West Martello Tower.
The liveliest of Key West’s swaths of sand, South Beach is located at the south end of Duval Street. Along with beach chairs and umbrellas, this seaside location features the well-known Southernmost Beach Café that celebrates the community’s counterculture philosophy with its “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” policy. The beach is adjacent to the historic Southernmost House and the colorful buoy that designates the location as the southernmost point in the United States. There are no facilities at this free public beach, which is open from 8am until the restaurant closes.
Take a break and discover a different side of Key West with the team at Fury Water Adventures. Explore a secluded oasis in the Florida Keys backcountry with their Island Adventure eco tour. Kayak and snorkel through an array of mangroves, glistening turquoise waters, and shallow sandbars. The experienced and friendly staff provides insight into the ecosystem and surrounding marine life. All kayak and snorkeling equipment is provided by Fury Water Adventures, as well as free biodegradable reef sunscreen on each trip.
Food and refreshments are served to help power you through this unique 4.5-hour experience, normally reserved for locals. To ensure that guests experience the freshest and tastiest items, the sustainable menu features locally sourced ingredients, including hand-picked produce from Florida farms whenever possible. This exciting excursion is available to guests of all ages in the morning and afternoon.
The second-most popular beach in Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park offers a variety of water and onshore activities. You can enjoy a daily ranger-led tour of the Civil War-era bastion and stroll or bike along the scenic nature trails where you can view Key West’s indigenous flora and fauna. Unlike the sandy Smathers Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park has a crushed coral beach so beachgoers should wear water shoes or flip-flops to protect their feet. In addition to a snack bar, charcoal grills and shaded picnic areas, there are equipment rental shops, restrooms and showers. Anglers can fish off the jetty. You can also swim and enjoy other water sports like windsurfing and snorkeling as well as kayaking and paddleboarding in the clear, clean water inhabited by tropical fish. The park is a wonderful place to experience the famous Key West sunset. You can also visit nearby attractions like the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and the USCGC Ingham Maritime Museum. The park is open year-round from 8am to sunset and there is a small admission fee for the park depending on how many people are in your party.
Whether you’re enjoying an extended vacation or just a quick island getaway, there’s no better way to explore Key West than on the Old Town Trolley. Learn about all the rich history of the Keys. All tours are 100% live, with zero pre-recorded narrations, and led by a highly knowledgeable guide. Discover paradise at your pace with the ability to hop-on and hop-off any time you’d like.
And for a truly spooktacular adventure, take part in the Ghosts & Gravestones Tour and take a ride on the Trolley of the Doomed. Pass by some of the most tragic and most sacred sites of the island after dark, as you listen to tales of haunted ghosts and goblins that call Key West home. Please be advised, this tour may not be suitable for children under the age of 13.
Bookended by the popular Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, the southeast coastline of Key West offers great weather, a laid-back ambiance and the opportunity to enjoy a variety of water sports.
No trip to Key West would be complete without
visiting one of these beaches.