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Key West Beaches

Key West beaches rank among the best beaches in Florida, believe it or not.

Like the island itself, the beaches tend to be small, but they are tropical and sun-drenched most of the year. 

The waters are clear and warm, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Don't plan on surfing while at Key West Florida beaches -- the coral reef lurking offshore tends to keep the waters calm and smooth.

So what are the best beaches in Key West?  Here are some popular beach spots to plunk down your beach chair and enjoy Key West!

Best Key West Beaches

There are all kinds of beaches in Key West, but here are the best that are public and also family-friendly.   Here they are, in alphabetical order.

Best Beaches in Key WestDog Beach  

If you have a four-legged friend who might appreciate some water time, check out Dog Beach.  Located near Vernon and Waddell streets, this Florida Keys beach is a bit slippery and somewhat rocky.  There aren't any restrooms nearby, unfortunately.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and Beach

This is a fort built by the US government, and completed in 1866.  Now, Fort Zachary Taylor is an 87 acre Florida State Park, complete with its own beach.  The beach here is wonderful, and with some recent (2007) sand replenishment, the beach is no longer quite so rocky.

Excellent swimming and snorkeling -- there are patch reefs near to the swimming areas.  The waters are shallow enough for confident swimming, but deep enough to ensure a good "beach flow".  There is excellent diving nearby, too.

Like most of the Florida State Parks, there is an admission fee to get in.  The entrance is Southard Street at Truman Annex.

Inside the park you'll find rentals (umbrella, chair and snorkel gear), BBQs, picnic tables, restrooms and a food/drink concession.  Also included are fort tours, nature trails and fishing areas.

Higgs Memorial Beach  

Higgs Memorial Beach is the second-largest of the Key West Florida beaches (after Smathers Beach).  And like Smathers, there is plenty to do at Higgs Beach.

Like snorkeling?  Higgs Beach has the best snorkeling area of the Key West beaches.  You'll need to go a little offshore, as it's pretty shallow close in, but not too far out.  If you didn't bring your snorkel gear, you can rent some at the concession. 

In the mood for some boating, you're in luck because the concession also rents kayaks.  And as always, beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent..

If you like biking, you can ride the paths that parallel the beach, for some nice scenery and a welcome breeze.  Volleyball and tennis courts are available nearby as well.

There are, of course, picnic tables available, but if you want to splurge, there's a restaurant, with an area to eat that's pretty much on the beach.

Do visit the White Street pier, on the north side of the beach -- it's a great stroll out and back. 

Higgs Beach is on the eastern side of the island, just south of the White Street pier, at the end of Reynold's Street.

C.B. Harvey Rest Beach  

Key West Florida BeachesThis beach is named after a former Key West mayor, and is next to Higgs Beach.

Rest Beach starts at the White Street pier and goes north.  Along with some bike paths nearby, this beach is also wheelchair accessible.

On the pier you can wet a line and try your luck with fishing.  Or, just walk the pier and enjoy the scenery.

There isn't much as far as rentals and such at Rest Beach, but there are picnic tables and restrooms.  The draw here is the soft sands and the natural look.

Smathers Beach

This is the beach most people think of, when they hear Key West beaches being mentioned.

Smathers Beach is the biggest of the Key West beaches, at a half-mile long.  The beach is more or less sandy -- it's a man-made beach, so sometimes the sand gets swept away by the weather.  But fortunately it's replenished when needed.

There is lots and lots to do here at Smathers Beach.  What's your pleasure?  You can:

  • Go parasailing, jet skiing or wind surfing

  • Rent chairs, umbrellas and snorkel equipment

  • Play volleyball

  • Buy something to eat or drink

  • Swim, snorkel or do a little diving

  • Watch the world go by

You can reach Smathers Beach from South Roosevelt Boulevard, on the south side of the island.

Key West Florida Beaches -- Worth a Visit!

These are the main Key West beaches on the island, so you have several choices once you're here on vacation.

And since you're here on a Key West vacation, here are som additional things to do and places to stay on the island.

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