The 3 Best Beaches in Key West
Key West is a tropical paradise of blue skies, sun-filled days, and – perhaps the highlight – stunning beaches. You simply cannot come to Key West without exploring its array of beaches, which boast beautiful white sand, amazing views, and ample opportunities for R&R and family-friendly activities. Just as every site in the town of Key West is unique, so too are its beaches.
Looking for the perfect Key West beach experience? Read below to discover the top 3 beaches in Key West!
1. Smathers Beach
- Located a stone’s throw from Margaritaville Beach House Key West, this beach is the largest and (in our opinion) the most beautiful of the Key West beaches.
- Smathers is a family-friendly beach with public restrooms and plenty of space to spread out. The sand is white and fine, with few rocks – this makes it ideal for kids to play and adults to sunbathe. There are umbrellas available for rent at the beach as well, in case you’re getting a little too much sun. Palm trees arch over the beach, creating a tropical, relaxing vibe, while the gentle lapping of waves on the shore is enough to lull anyone to sleep. This is also a perfect spot to catch an iconic Key West sunrise or sunset.
- If you’re in need of some sustenance, Margaritaville Beach House Key West has a restaurant and bar (walkable from the beach!) that are open to the public. This is also a great place to grab dinner and drinks after a day in the sun!
- This is a popular beach for boaters, jet skiers, and windsurfers, so you are bound to see a few sailboats and jet skiers passing by. The water is fairly warm year-round and the lack of currents makes it a family favorite. If you’re feeling like an adventure, there are kayaks, paddleboards, and Hobie Cats available for rent through Sunset Watersports Key West. Like Margaritaville Beach House Key West, this beach is located on the quieter side of the island, making it an ideal spot for relaxation. We recommend this one 10/10!
2. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park's Beach
- This beach is located at the southern end of the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and is well worth a visit.
- Before going to the beach, we highly recommend checking out the rest of this state park, which is teeming with history. Fort Taylor is a National Historic Monument with the biggest collection of Civil War weaponry in the world. There, you’ll walk through brick corridors and take in the rich history – this fort played a part in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. If you’re a real history buff, you can watch a reenactment of a battle, put on by locals the third weekend of each month.
- Next, head to the beach for some relaxation. Go for a dip or snorkel – you are likely to see a wide array of marine life, including yellowtail snapper and parrot fish. This is also a great spot for a picnic or a barbecue – there are many picnic tables and grills scattered throughout the park. The Cayo Hueso Café, situated right along the beach, is an ideal place for families to grab a quick bite.
- If you’re interested in fishing, head to the west side of the park, by the Key West Shipping Channel. There are also beautiful nature trails where you can bird-watch and observe local plant life.
3. Higgs Beach
- This beach boasts 16.5 acres of oceanfront views, as well as picturesque turquoise water. Higgs is the only underwater marine park in the United States that is accessible by shore. This makes it a popular destination for snorkeling, swimming, and paddling. Kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent, and there are volleyball courts on the beach. There is also a cafe, called Salute! On The Beach, offering delicious Italian food and waterfront views.
- This is an especially family-friendly beach, as it offers a children’s playground right in the sand. If you have pets in tow, Higgs also has a large dog park, complete with water fountains, benches, and open grassy spaces.
- Higgs is home to a number of historical sites, including an African Refugee Memorial and an AIDS Memorial. The Key West Garden Club, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, offers free admission to two acres of gardens. You can wander the garden paths and explore the diverse plant life, including orchids, cacti, bromeliads, and more. Stop to rest in a gazebo and enjoy the ocean breeze against your face. The fountains and waterfalls give this space a soothing aura. There is also a butterfly garden filled with vibrant colors, a popular gathering spot for monarch butterflies. The beauty and tranquility of this place make it a popular destination for Key West weddings.
- If you’re looking for some gentle exercise, take a walk along the shore and head to the 400-foot Reynolds Street Pier for great ocean views. This is an excellent place for family pictures as well, especially at sunset!
When it comes to Key West beaches, there is truly something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, go for a romantic walk, or enjoy family-friendly fun, these beaches have so much to offer. Key West’s pristinely blue water and sunshine make them hard to beat. What’s more, many of Key West’s beaches offer a wonderful blend of natural beauty and history, providing intellectual stimulation alongside relaxation.
To find out more about Key West’s beaches and plan your tropical getaway, click here to connect with our concierge.