Are you looking for the best beaches in the Florida Keys? Look no further! We’ve gathered a list of all of our favorite Florida Keys beaches.
Whether you are road-tripping through the Florida Keys or sticking to just one key, going to the beach should absolutely be on your list of things to do in the Keys. There are some truly beautiful beaches in the Keys, no matter which key you’re on.
Full of state parks and natural beauty, the Florida Keys are an obvious choice for a weekend getaway in Florida. The stunningly blue water and balmy temperatures are, of course, the highlights of visiting the Keys. And what better way to admire this beauty than at the best beaches in the Keys?!
While there are plenty of resort beaches, there are public beaches in the Keys as well. In this list of beaches in the Florida Keys, we’ll mention the beaches anyone can visit.
So grab your sunscreen and discover the best Florida Keys beaches!
Before you plan your trip, make sure to check out The Best Times To Visit The Keys where we break down each month and talk all things weather!
Which Florida Key has the best beaches?
Each Florida Key has some awesome beaches, but our favorite Key for beaches is probably Big Pine Key. This is mostly due to Bahia Honda State Park, home to 524 acres of protected land. At Bahia Honda, you can find some of the best beach spots in the Florida Keys.
However, Big Pine Key also has a Veterans Memorial Park and Beach to recommend it as the Key with the best beaches.
Are there any sandy beaches in Key West?
There are indeed sandy beaches in Key West! While the most western of the Florida Keys is not known for its sandy beaches due to the barrier reef offshore that keeps sand from reaching land, sandy beaches can be found.
Sand has actually been imported to create some of the best vacation beaches in the Keys. Two of the most popular sandy beaches in Key West are Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor Beach. At these Key West beaches, you’ll be able to feel plenty of sand between your toes!
Where is the clearest water in the Florida Keys?
Of all the places with the clearest water in the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas National Park is at the top of our list! In fact, Dry Tortugas has some of the clearest water in all of Florida.
This stunning set of islands in the Gulf of Mexico is a 100-square-mile National Park and it contains the only tropical reef in the United States. The water at Dry Tortugas is so clear that it makes the park one of the best places to go snorkeling in the Keys.
Whether you are looking to gaze at tropical fish, tour the fort, or just relax in the emerald waves, Dry Tortugas provides some of the most unique experiences of the Florida Key Beaches.
Best Beaches In The Florida Keys
Bahia Honda State Park
As we mentioned above, Bahia Honda State Park has some of the nicest beaches in the Florida Keys. (We might even argue that it is the best beach in the Keys.) Located on Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda State Park is a favorite tropical paradise.
There are several beaches at Bahia Honda: Sandspur Beach, Loggerhead Beach, and the iconic Calusa Beach. Calusa Beach is easily recognizable since it’s adjacent to the Bahia Honda Bridge.
In the early 20th century, Henry Flagler funded the construction of a bridge as part of the railroad to Key West. However, it wasn’t long before a hurricane destroyed the bridge. For a while, the Bahia Honda Bridge was used as part of a motorway but now stands derelict, overlooking Bahia Hoda State Park.
Make sure to check out some of our other favorite things to do in the Lower Keys other than Bahia Honda!
Bahia Honda State Park provides everything you could want at one of the best beaches in the Keys. Enjoy picnicking, paddling, and swimming along the palm-lined shores. Restrooms, shower stations, and parking are all available.
Be sure to check out our tips for visiting Bahia Honda State Park!
One of the best beaches in Marathon Key is Sombrero Beach. With beautiful views, and shallow, crystal-clear water, Sombrero Beach is a bit of a hidden gem!
Sombrero Beach is a quiet, man-made, sandy beach that sits on the southern tip of Marathon Key. Open from 7 am until dusk, it is kept clean by the city, and is available for public use. There are picnic pavilions, volleyball courts, restrooms, and showers available.
Be aware that Sombrero Beach is also a turtle-nesting beach! During the warmer months of the year, Loggerhead turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs. While the city does monitor and mark new nesting spots, keep an eye out; you might be able to see some turtles!
If you love Marathon, make sure to check out some of our other favorite things to do in the Middle Keys!
One of the most popular beaches in the Florida Keys is Smathers Beach in Key West. In fact, it is the largest beach in Key West so it’s hard to miss! Best of all, Smathers Beach is free to visit as it is a public beach.
Smathers Beach is one of the white sand beaches in Florida that uses imported sand, so you don’t have to worry about the rocky shore usually associated with Key West beaches.
If you’re looking to spend some time relaxing by the water while spending a few days in Key West, you should definitely make a stop at Smathers Beach.
At Smathers Beach, you’ll find restrooms, beach volleyball courts, and food vendors. You can rent chairs and umbrellas, or you can hang out under the palms that line the shore.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Another of the best beaches in Key West is Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. At this southernmost state park in the continental United States, you can find the beautiful blue water associated with beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
However, you will want to pack water shoes, as Fort Zachary Taylor doesn’t import sand, so the ground might be a bit rougher than other beaches in the Florida Keys. Still, the beach here is stunning, and it’s a great place to go swimming and snorkeling.
If you get hungry, swing by the Cayo Hueso Café which serves local beach cuisine, as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There are also restroom and shower amenities available at the beach.
There are so many things to do in Fort Zachary Taylor! In addition to the beach, you can tour the historic Civil War-era fort, hike the park trails, or go fishing. Check out our tips for visiting Fort Zachary Taylor State Park for more info!
Right off the Overseas Highway, you can find one of the best public beaches in Islamorada. Anne’s Beach may be small, but it is picturesque. It was named for environmentalist Anne Elliot, a local Florida Keys resident.
Anne’s Beach is a rarity in that it is one of the natural sand beaches in the Florida Keys! While not the best place for swimming, Anne’s Beach is a great place to picnic or sunbathe, especially at low tide. You can cool off by wading in the shallows that extend quite far out.
There is a boardwalk through the mangroves, connecting the two parking lots, with picnic pavilions along the way.
Anne’s Beach can get breezy, so it is a popular spot for windsurfers!
Make sure to check out some of the Best Islamorada Restaurants for your trip!
Dry Tortugas National Park
As we said above, if you’re looking for the clearest water in the Key beaches, you have to check out Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s an adventure to reach this unique spot, but absolutely worth it!
Although it is 70 miles west of Key West, there is no road to reach Dry Tortugas National Park! You can take a ferry, a seaplane, or charter a boat. Because it’s so remote, you don’t have to worry about overcrowding at the beach!
Camping is allowed within the park, however, the sites are primitive. You will want to stock up on any remaining supplies before you get off the ferry. For more tips, check out our guide to visiting Dry Tortugas.
With Fort Jefferson as the centerpiece, no wifi, and tales of hidden treasure off the coast, at Dry Tortugas National Park, you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time!
Though Key Largo doesn’t have as many beaches as some of its neighboring Keys, it is home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Within the park are two beaches: Far Beach and Cannon Beach. Far Beach may be the more popular beach in Key Largo, so if you’re looking to get away, head to Cannon Beach.
Cannon Beach got its name from the real 17th-century cannons that sit along the shore!
Being part of a coral reef state park, Cannon Beach’s sand also includes rocky coral, so you’ll want to bring your water shoes. Once you are in the water though, it is warm and calm and provides some great snorkeling opportunities.
Experienced divers can even explore a man-made shipwreck!
This is truly one of the best things to do in the Upper Keys!!
Veterans Memorial Park and Beach
Along the Seven Mile Bridge, before you reach Big Pine Key, you’ll find the Veterans Memorial Park and Beach. This scenic spot is a great place to stop while doing a road trip to Key West, though it is used by tourists and locals alike.
Similar to Anne’s Beach, the beautiful blue water at Veterans Memorial Beach stays quite shallow, so you can walk far out. Follow the little paths that lead through the beds of turtle grass.
Though small, Veterans Memorial Beach has restrooms and picnic pavilions. Bring a cooler and spend a fun afternoon at one of the best, little-known beaches in the Florida Keys!
Curry Hammock State Park
Another of the best beaches in Marathon is located in Curry Hammock State Park. This area of protected land is a fun spot to hang out in nature amongst the hustle and bustle of the Keys.
Curry Hammock State Park has some of the best beach camping of all the beaches in the Florida Keys. You’ll be steps from the lovely clear water and can fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.
Other than swimming, other popular activities at Curry Hammock State Park include kite surfing and kayaking. Kayaks can be rented from the park and going for a paddle is a great way to see the local wildlife. You might even see some wild manatees!
One of the other best beaches in Islamorada is within Founders Park. This 45-acre park offers beach access along with a whole bunch of other amenities.
Founders Park is one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys for those visiting with children. The water is shallow and clear. If anyone tires of the ocean water, there is a swimming pool, a playground, and a splash pad. There are also plenty of picnic areas, as well as grills.
Be aware that there is an entrance fee (per person) to Founders Park for non-residents.
Long Key State Park
Back when Flagler’s railroad to Key West was in operation, the rich and famous would stop off in Long Key for some saltwater angling. Today it’s a Florida State Park with one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys.
The beach at Long Key State Park doesn’t use imported sand, but the views are lovely, and you can still enjoy the water. Popular activities include hiking, paddling, and bird-watching. Enjoy lunch under the tiki hut before combing the beach and walking the nature trails.
The park was damaged during Hurricane Irma, but construction is being done to restore its oceanfront campsites.
Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach
Lastly, on our list of beaches in the Florida Keys, we have Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach. Higgs Beach is another popular beach in Key West.
Higgs Beach has sand, calm turquoise water, and free parking! Chairs and umbrellas can be rented, as well as kayaks and paddleboards. Enjoy almost 17 acres of oceanfront and walk out onto the 400-foot Reynolds Street Pier!
It’s also important to note that Higgs Beach is also home to the only known African refugee cemetery in the United States. In 1860 the US Navy intercepted an illegal ship bound for Cuba and the 1,400 enslaved people on board were brought to Key West. Those who succumbed to illness were buried near Fort West Martello. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the site is free to visit.
There are some really great beaches in the Florida Keys, and we hope you get to visit many of them! The Keys are such a unique part of Florida that going to the beaches in the Keys is sure to be an unforgettable experience.