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The Best Beaches In Key West

Because the island of Key West was formerly a string of coral reefs below the water, much of its shoreline is rocky or used for boat landing docks. But if you’re in search of a sandy beach this tiny island has several that offer plenty of fun in the sun. Keep reading to find out the top 5 beaches in Key West.

1) Dry Tortugas & Fort Jefferson
To many, this secluded cluster of islands 70 miles west of Key West is home to the most beautiful beach in the Florida Keys. Climb aboard the official Dry Tortugas ferry, the Yankee Freedom III, and make your way to the remote Dry Tortugas. This expansive, luxurious catamaran offers complimentary breakfast and lunch, snorkel gear and a professional crew that fills you in on all the important facts about the area. When you arrive on the island, step onto a pristine beach, view the ancient Civil War fortress Fort Jefferson and discover why this is one of the world’s most unique eco-attractions. If you love to snorkel, or if this is your first time, you’ll be in for a treat. You can walk right into the warm shallow water and start exploring the thriving reef teeming with fish. Enjoy a walk along the sandy shoreline, relax in the sun, swim, go bird watching and kayak. Take a self-guided tour of the massive Fort Jefferson or go with a guide. Check out the cells that were once home to prisoners of war and the one that belonged to Fort Jefferson’s most famous inmate, Samuel Mudd. After a day of sunshine, snorkeling and exploration, you’ll realize that this was no ordinary beach day.

2) Fort Zachary Taylor
Located at the Truman Annex on Southard Street, Fort Zachary Taylor is often deemed Key West’s best beach. Within this 87-acre state park you’ll find a Civil War fort complete with cannons and guided tours, nature trails, ideal spots for fishing and snorkeling and a gorgeous sandy beach. Soak in the warmth of the sun and play in the delightful water. Snorkeling here is easy and offers a great view of colorful marine life, including schools of snapper, parrotfish and lobster. There is a café that’s open daily, picnic tables and grills for a perfect beach cookout.

Photo of lawnchairs on a Key West beach

3) Smathers Beach
Key West’s largest beach, Smathers is the place to go for action in the water and relaxing on a lovely half-mile stretch of soft sand. Admission to the beach is free and there are volleyball nets and various watersports companies offering rentals. You can also rent chairs and rafts and get a variety of snacks at the concession truck. A popular hang out among locals, Smathers is where many of the Spring Break visitors to Key West flock for fun in the sun. The beach is located on the south side of the island on South Roosevelt Boulevard.

4) Higgs Beach
For a true laid-back Key West beach day, head over to Higgs Beach in Old Town. Bring your beach chair or rent one and lounge in the sand as the waves hit the shore. There’s a long wooden pier for gazing out at the ocean and sunbathing, a full-service restaurant, a playground, volleyball nets, tennis courts and a dog park. Admission is free, and the beach is located at the end of Reynolds Street.

5) Bahia Honda State Park
Just a little over 30 miles north of Key West, Bahia Honda State Park beckons beach lovers to enjoy its shallow crystal waters, towering pine trees and miles of soft white sands. There are actually two beaches within this well-known state park, including Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach. Both offer a day of sun worshiping, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling. There are fresh water showers, a concession stand and nature trails that wind through lush, tropical mangroves.