Best Beaches in Florida Keys

Sombrero Beach Marathon Keys Famous Beach

The Florida Keys are built on coral rock, and offshore reefs are wonderful for snorkelers and scuba divers. But those reefs also prevent sand from building up to create beaches, so the shoreline is either rocky or mucky or thick with seaweed.

 

Nevertheless, you can find a few great beaches in the Florida Keys, including one consistently ranked one of the best beaches in America. You just have to know where to go.

Sombrero Beach is both kid-friendly and dog friendly beach. With playgrounds and clean sandy white beach perfect for building sand castles. Pavilions with picnic tables for family gathering, handicap accessibility, restrooms, showers and valleyball courts.
 
Shady Palm trees and a trutle nesting beach. Sombrero Beach has it all and it's Free with parking! So bring your whole family and the dog to Sombrero Beach! 411 Sombrero Beach Road rentals is walking or biking distance from Sombrero Beach.  That is why our rentals are in such demand when "snowbirds" come to Marathon FL.

Sombrero Beach

For years, there has been widespread agreement that the best beaches in the Florida Keys, are in Bahia Honda State Park at MM 36.8. One of three beaches at Bahia Honda is open in summer 2019, but, sadly the 2.5 mile-long Sandspur Beach on the Atlantic, once named the best in America, is still closed and will be through early 2020, according to park representatives.

The open beach is the smaller of three, Calusa Beach. It was always the most popular one — the best beach for swimming and where all the concessions, the nature center, picnic shelters and the souvenir shop are located, adjacent to the marina. It is also the most photographed beach because it is where the old bridge and new bridge converge in the background.

When they reopen, the other two beaches are winners, with white sand and water so shallow that you can wade far out before you even get your swimsuit wet. Dr. Beach, the professor who rates beaches and releases a 10-best list each year, called the closed Sandspur Beach “a piece of the Caribbean” because of its “crystal clear, turquoise water and white coral beach lined with coconut palms.”

Bahia Honda has natural beaches, not manmade ones.

Admission is $8.50 per vehicle (2-8 people). $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers; $4 single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

Bahia Honda State Park, 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida 33043, (305) 872-2353

Calusa Beach Bahia Honda Park

Curry Hammock State Park has 1,200 feet of beach. Although shallow, it has more of a slope than most Keys beaches, so you can get into deeper water faster. Curry Hammock also has an excellent beach launch for kayaks that allows paddlers to explore offshore islands or paddle sheltered coves and a shady mangrove trail.

From your kayak, you’ll still see hurricane debris lodged into the mangroves, but the rest of the area around Curry Hammock is survived the storm well.

The day use area has four large picnic pavilions, rest rooms and showers for swimmers, and a playground. There’s a 1.5-mile nature trail for hiking,

Admission to the park is $4.50 per vehicle (one person) or $5 per vehicle (plus 50 cents per person, 2+ people). Pedestrians and bicyclists, $2.50. Kayak rentals are $17.20 on a single kayak for two hours, $21.50 for a tandem.

Curry Hammock State Park

This is the best beach in Key West, located where Gulf waters meet the Atlantic. The water is clear and the bottom is rocky, which makes this a good place to snorkel and see tropical fish and live coral. Because of those rocks, it’s smart to bring water shoes. The state park offers shady areas to relax and the historic fort is worth exploring.

Parking is hard to find in Key West, and so it’s good to know you CAN park here. The beachfront Cayo Hueso Café offers reasonably priced sandwiches, snacks, cold beverages and beach sundries served on a patio overlooking the beach.

Admission: $6 per vehicle (2-8 people) plus 50 cents per person. $2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, and  passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass. $4.50 single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Beach, 601 Howard England Way, Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 292-6713

Florida Rambler guide to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Smathers Beach is a rare stretch of sand in Key West, even though the sand has to be imported.

The beach, the longest in Key West, is free. It’s lined with palm trees and has restrooms, volleyball courts and picnic areas. It’s a shallow beach and the water is sometimes lacking in clarity. Sunset Watersports offers parasailing, wind surfing, paddle boards, kayaks and Hobie Cat rentals. Smather’s has a reputation as a Spring Break/party beach. At the same time, it is also a popular location for beachfront weddings.

Smathers Beach, South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL 33040
To find Smather’s Beach, bear left as you enter Key West on South Roosevelt Boulevard. Admission: Free

Smathers Beach, Key West

Simonton Street Beach Key West

In any other town in Florida, this wouldn’t get mentioned, but this is Key West, where beaches are scarce.

Located where Duval Street meets the Atlantic, this little patch of sand attracts lots of visitors, as it is close to the Southernmost Point, which attracts selfie-seekers from around the world. It’s a well-groomed stretch of beach but there is very little parking, so come by foot or bike.

Overlooking this beach is the Southernmost Beach Cafe, which offers beautiful seaside dining. It’s popular for happy hour and gets good ratings on Yelp and TripAdvisor.

This small pocket beach at the west end of Simonton Street is in the middle of the heavily visited tourist area near Mallory Square, but you would hardly know it’s there unless you stumbled upon it taking a wrong turn. Wiped out by Hurricane Irma, the beach was quickly restored by trucking in tons of sand.

Wedged between the Pier House and the Hyatt Key West, the beach is a popular destination for locals and hotel guests, and it is often crowded. There’s a small parking area and a fabulous little beach bar, called Lager-heads, serving craft beers and seafood treats like fish tacos, fish sandwiches, smoked fish dip and fresh ceviche, as well as hot dogs and burgers. They also serve breakfast.

This beach is a terrific alternative to Mallory Square for sunsets. Beach admission is free.

Simonton Street Beach, 0 Simonton Street, Key West, FL 33040

This is the best beach in Key West, located where Gulf waters meet the Atlantic. The water is clear and the bottom is rocky, which makes this a good place to snorkel and see tropical fish and live coral. Because of those rocks, it’s smart to bring water shoes. The state park offers shady areas to relax and the historic fort is worth exploring.

Parking is hard to find in Key West, and so it’s good to know you CAN park here. The beachfront Cayo Hueso Café offers reasonably priced sandwiches, snacks, cold beverages and beach sundries served on a patio overlooking the beach.

Admission: $6 per vehicle (2-8 people) plus 50 cents per person. $2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, and  passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass. $4.50 single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Beach, 601 Howard England Way, Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 292-6713

Florida Rambler guide to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Anne's Beach, Islamorada

A long-time favorite, Anne’s beach remains closed but is expected to reopen by the fall of 2019. 

When restored, Anne’s is a lovely, sandy beach and delightful for wading. The beach is shallow for quite a ways. 

The shore is lined with mangroves, through which a boardwalk, with periodic picnic tables, weaves. Anne’s Beach has two small parking lots. It’s free and worth a stop on your travels along the Overseas Highway.

Here’s one you probably didn’t know existed, and it’s a beauty.

Near Mile Marker 54, before you get to Key Colony Beach and Marathon, there’s a traffic light at Coco Plum Drive. Head toward the ocean and follow Coco Plum Drive around the curve to the end, where there’s a fenced public parking area in the sand.

This beach is popular with kite surfers, but there’s room for everyone. You can also launch a kayak or paddle board to explore Deer Key, or paddle around Deer Key to the paddle trails in Curry Hammock State Park and beyond.

The fact that this beach is hard to find and known only to locals, you are practically guaranteed a peaceful beach experience. I love to set my chair up in the shade of overhanging branches and chill out.

No admission to the beach or to park.

Coco Plum Beach

Higgs Beach, Key West

As you continue south along the Atlantic from Smather’s, you come to Higgs Beach, which is south of the White Street Fishing Pier and adjacent to the Waldorf Astoria’s Casa Marina Resort. This urban beach offers shade from a grove of palm trees and a number of picnic tables as well as a dog park and free parking.

The adjacent free fishing pier is worth a visit. The large concrete structure offers a spectacular walk out over the Atlantic, surrounding you with many shades of blue. (Some call it the unfinished road to Havana.)

Higgs Beach is also the site of a monument marking what is thought to be the burial site of Africans rescued from the slave trade who were brought to the island by the U.S. Navy. During the Civil War, Key West remained under Union control and was a refuge for victims of the slave trade.

Pet Friendly Beach

Dog Lovers enjoy spending time with their "Best Friends" on the beach and Sombrero Beach is a dog friendly beach. Check out our pet friendly vacation rentals near Sombrero Beach! Florida Keys Vacation Villas.com

954-263-2995

411 Sombrero Beach Rd., Marathon, Florida 33050

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