Travel down U.S. Highway 1, and you’ll reach Key West, the southernmost city in America. Key West is part of the incredible and diverse Florida Keys. Beaches in Key West on both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Key West is best known for its Key Lime Pie, endless sunshine, and attractive beaches. If you’re wondering what the best beaches in Key West are, we’ve got you covered.
There is a beach for everybody, swimmers, sunbathers, families, history buffs, and even dog owners. From powder white sand to authentic coral beaches, Key West has them all. If you love beaches, swimming, and stunning views, you’ve got to check out the island. These are our top 10 best beaches in Key West.
What is the prettiest beach in Key West?
Key West has an abundance of pretty beaches. One of the prettiest is Dry Tortugas Beach. It has some of the clearest water in Florida. This isolated island fort beach has endless crystal clear ocean views. Dry Tortugas are so beautiful you won’t want to leave the island.
Does Key West have swimmable beaches?
Key West has a ton of swimmable beaches. Smathers Beach and South Beach are the most popular swimming beaches in Key West. Tennessee Williams used to swim at South Beach every day he stayed in Key West. Sandy bottoms, as well as warm and shallow waters, make for ideal swimming conditions.
What is the best beach to go to in Key West?
Smathers Beach is often considered to be one of the best beaches in Key West. It’s picturesque, atmospheric, and great for swimming.
The best beach to go to in Key West depends on what you’re looking for. Key West has beaches for families, swimmers, and even history buffs. There are also fantastic local beaches and exclusive private ones. Head to Key West, and you’ll discover your new favorite beach.
1. Smathers Beach
Smathers Beach is one of Key West’s most popular beaches among tourists and locals. With almost a mile of soft sand, it’s easy to see why everybody loves it. One of the reasons why people love Smathers Beach so much is the ideal swimming conditions. Lookout at the water and you can barely see a ripple. This makes Smathers Beach one of the best beaches in Key West for families. With crystal clear waters and palms lining the shores, it’s an enjoyable place.
As well as the beautiful beach and ocean, there are several amenities. There are showers and restrooms, perfect if you’re spending the day. There are also food vendors, volleyball courts, and rental shops. Check out the rental shops for all your watersport needs. They’ve got kayaks, snorkeling gear, and jet skis, all for you to rent.
If you are in Key West for a bachelor/bachelorette party, this is the perfect place to nurse a hangover after hitting up the best Key West bars the night before.
Did I mention that you can also head to Smathers Beach for free? The perfect Key West activity for low-budget travelers or families.
2. South Beach
South Beach was one of Tennessee Williams’ favorite Key West beaches. Every morning the famous playwright would walk through town and go for a swim here. Many, like Williams, are attracted to South Beach because of its calm, shallow waters. Great swimming conditions make this a top beach among families.
Unlike Smathers Beach, there isn’t a plethora of rental shops at South Beach. However, this does mean it’s a much quieter area with a more relaxed atmosphere. The beach is backed by the Southernmost Beach Café, a great place to refuel.
3. Higgs Memorial Beach Park
Locally known as Higgs Beach, this spot is in the C.B. Harvey Rest Beach Park. Higgs Beach is one of the best beaches in Key West to visit for the whole day. There are volleyball nets, tennis courts, a playground, a dog park, and gardens. After you’ve played some sport or explored the gardens, cool off in the shallow water. There’s also a fully-serviced restaurant so you can grab some food and continue your day.
Parking and admission to the beach are free, so be sure to head down early to get a space.
4. Dry Tortugas Beach
Dry Tortugas Beach is 70 miles from Key West. Despite the distance, Dry Tortugas is still considered part of Key West. If you want tranquility, then this is one of the best beaches in Florida. Of the best beaches in Key West, Dry Tortugas is popular among day-trippers.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll also love this island retreat. The beach sits in front of the spectacular hexagonal Fort Jefferson. Explore this Civil War-era fort and then head to the beach. You’ll feel as if you are in paradise at this Key West Beach. Visiting the island is one of the best things to do in Key West.
This is also one of the best beaches to visit for snorkeling. Surrounded by coral reefs, there are plenty of fish to see at Dry Tortugas.
5. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is a top beach in Key West. Many of the beaches in Key West are actually manmade. But Fort Zach Beach is authentic and made from finely grounded coral.
Backed by Fort Zachery, this beach is perfect for wildlife lovers. Many bird watchers visit the beach to see a variety of species. More than 35 species of wood warbler have been recorded in the park. You can also see Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Gray-cheeked Thrushes, and Painted Bunting.
Fort Zach is also one of the most popular beaches in Key West for snorkeling. Snorkel, and you might just see Goliath grouper, sea turtles, and, if you’re lucky, dolphins. After all that snorkeling, you’ll be longing to relax on the fine coral sand.
6. Bahia Honda State Park
Drive outside of Key West, and you’ll find the stunning Bahia Honda State Park. The park covers 500 acres and offers some of the best snorkeling around. There are two beaches in Bahia Honda: Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach. That’s two beaches for the price of one.
Calusa Beach has beautiful views looking out at the Bahia Honda bridge. A sandy shoreline and precariously balanced palms make for a blissful setting. Sandspur Beach is a beautiful mile-long beach right near the park entrance. It’s one of the longest beaches around, leaving plenty of room to walk and relax.
In the park, there are a bunch of concession stands and places to rent kayaks. Snorkeling tours to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary can also be arranged here. If you’re looking for somewhere that’s quiet but breathtaking, this is the place to be.
If you are making the drive from Miami to Key West, we highly suggest stopping before or after you reach Key West. It is worth the stop, trust us.
7. Rest Beach
Rest Beach just sounds like an idyllic location to kick back and take it easy. Rest Beach is located east of Higgs Beach in the C.B. Harvey Rest Beach Park. The beach is backed by some small dunes, making it a unique Key West beach.
If you’re into yoga, you’ve got to check out Rest Beach. Along the White Street Pier, you’ll see people practicing yoga. Arrive in the morning or evening, and you can enjoy a relaxing session by the beach.
As it isn’t a busy beach, you can also enjoy the sunset in peace and quiet. Why not bring some food and drink and sit out at the picnic benches?
8. Dog Beach
The name says it all, really! If you’re a dog owner, this is one of the best beaches in Key West. The aptly named Dog Beach is a local dog owner hotspot. It’s not just you that can enjoy this beach. Your pooch can too. Many Key West beaches don’t allow dogs. But at Dog Beach, you can even let them off the lead. Watch as your dog plays in the sand and water while enjoying a stroll yourself.
For first-timers, Dog Beach is a little tricky to find. Head to Louie’s Backyard restaurant, and they’ll point you in the right direction. Louie’s Backyard also has some of the best seafood in Key West, so it is worth trying to find Dog Beach!
9. Simonton Street Beach
Despite being the only public beach in downtown Key West, Simonton isn’t super busy. This is your go-to destination if you’re at Mallory Square and searching for a beach.
One of the reasons this beach isn’t super popular is that the waters are rocky. Put on some water shoes, however, and you’ll enjoy the ocean almost to yourself. This beach may be small, but it’s got everything you’ll need. There is a boat ramp, chair rentals, restrooms, and picnic tables. There is even a small vendor where you can grab a bite to eat. If there’s anything you need while at the beach, you can just wander into town.
10. Sunset Key
If you’re looking for a beach vacation, look no further than Sunset Key. Sunset Key is located 500 yards from Key West, yet many people have never visited. Sunset Key is one of the most exclusive things to do in Key West. In fact, many have absolutely no idea that Sunset Key has a beach.
Sunset Key is a private residential area where owners live in million-dollar homes. So how do you reach this exclusive Key? You can access the Key by booking a beach vacation at Sunset Key Cottages. Alternatively, you can book a table at the well-renowned Latitude restaurant. Note since it is one of the best restaurants in Key West, it requires reservations, and they book out weeks in advance. Dinner is on the pricier side, but lunch seemed reasonable for what you were getting.
Blissful white sand and palm trees make for a stunning backdrop. Guests can enjoy Tiki hut umbrellas, complimentary towels, and chairs. Sitting on this beach, it’s hard to believe you’re just 500 yards from downtown Key West.