Are you looking for the best Islands in the Florida Keys to recharge and relax by the gorgeous Florida ocean and soak up some vitamin D? Then look no further, we’ve got you covered!
Whether you’re looking for gorgeous beaches, fun watersports activities, or even underwater exploring, we rounded up the best of the best so you have it all in one place!
So make sure you have your aloe and sunscreen packed, and let’s go!
How many islands are in the Florida Keys?
Depending on what exactly you define as an island, there are over seventeen HUNDRED islands that are included in the Florida Keys, which makes it an embarrassment of riches when it comes to gorgeous places to have fun!
Not to worry if it seems overwhelming though, because only 43 of them are connected to the highway that connects Miami to Key West, the rest of the islands you need some sort of water vehicle to get to.
If you don’t have your own water vehicle, no sweat! There are all kinds of rental establishments around that would be happy to assist!
What is the nicest Florida Key?
This might be the answer that you’re looking for but it really truly depends a lot on what you’re looking for! Some keys have nicer beaches, some keys have meh beaches but amazing scuba diving, it really just depends on what you want your best experience to be like!
10 Best Islands in the Florida Keys You Shouldn’t Miss!
When it comes to hidden gems, Dry Tortugas National Park takes the cake as one of the best Islands in the Florida Keys!
Crystal clear water, magical historic forts and shipwrecks, it’s a veritable slice of remote heaven!
The park is home to 7 islands, or “Keys” and while the amount of them that are open to visitors varies by time of year, the main key that is always open to visitors during the season is Garden Key. Make sure to put this on your list when doing a Florida Keys Road Trip!
Garden Key is where the old Military fort, Fort Jefferson is located.
The fort has a rich history of functioning as several different things besides a military fort: including a hospital, a prison, and now it houses State Park rangers!
Dry Tortugas is only accessible by seaplane or a ferry, unless you have access to a boat (which is something worth it to rent), in which case you can get there whenever!
When it comes to being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by mother nature, Dry Tortugas is one of the best islands in the Florida Keys!
The park offers hiking, incomparable scuba and kayaking, and camping as well, but that is something you have to reserve in advance – check out their website for more info!
There are a lot of quirks about Dry Tortugas that you should know if you want to have the best time possible, so check out our post on Mistakes to Avoid When Going to Dry Tortugas!
There’s a reason why this key is mentioned in the Beach Boy’s song about island paradise, because it really is just that!
Key Largo is one of the best islands in the Florida Keys, and it’s not hard to see why, as one of the first keys on the highway, it makes a strong impression right away!
This one of the islands in the Florida Keys that enjoys robust environmental protection under the law, which allows the stunning marine life to thrive in safety.
In terms of scuba-ing, Key Largo is one of the best islands in the Florida Keys for underwater activities, because the gorgeous John Pennekamp State Park is located nearby, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity you shouldn’t miss!
There are all sorts of colorful coral and fish just waiting to be discovered, so make sure you have your scuba paperwork sorted out to really enjoy the best that the area has to offer!
For more fun stuff that Key Largo can offer like other activities and restaurants, check out our post on the Best Things To Do in Key Largo.
The Marquesas Keys
If you like the beautiful remote charm of Dry Tortugas, but don’t want to go quite that far, then this is one of the perfect islands in the Florida Keys for scuba and pristine remote beauty, just a little bit closer!
The Marquesas are not a key with any sort of development, in fact there is a strict no-motor zone surrounding the three small islands that make up the key, making it an absolute paradise for scuba diving!
The foundation of these islands are from the 10 or so hardwood hammock groves that grow deep into the seabed, which is also really beneficial for the flora and fauna of the area as well.
On top of being a hidden gem when it comes to scuba, the Marquesas are also an ideal location for fishing, though check the local laws to make sure you have the proper certifications and licensing in order to have the best time possible!
If you’re looking for a town experience in the keys but one that affords you access to multiple islands, then this is one of the most perfect islands in the florida keys for you!
The town of Marathon is spread across thirteen islands, which are connected by the seven-mile bridge! Even if you’re not spending a lot of time in Marathon, driving along the bridge is a gorgeous experience by itself
Marathon has a plethora of gorgeous beaches, reefs, and some truly exceptional waterfront dining, making it one of the best islands in the Florida Keys for someone who wants a little bit of everything from their vacation experience!
Marathon has so many other exciting and fun things to do, check out our post on the Best Things to Do in Marathon, Florida Keys, you can’t miss the Turtle Hospital!
If you’re big into fishing, then Islamorada is the perfect destination for you! Known as the sportsfishing capital of the world, Islamorada is one of the best islands in the florida keys for fishing enthusiasts!
If you love fish, but are not so much into the fishing part, then there is a perfect spot for you called Robbie’s!
The establishment was born out of a relationship between a businessman and a fish he nursed back to health – the fish came back and brought its friends! Now they hang out by the pier for you to admire and feed at your leisure.
Other highlights of Islamorada include beautiful State Parks, delicious food, and fun museums!
Visit yourself and see why its one of the best islands in the Florida Keys!
Islamorada is a super fun area, so check out our post on Fun Stuff To Do in Islamorada for all the best the Key has to offer.
Though it’s the last stop on the Florida Keys highway, Key West is far from the least and is rightfully known as one of the best islands in the Florida Keys, if not THE best island!
To get to some of the other places on this list most cases require you to make a stop in Key West anyways, so it would be a shame to miss out on the great offerings around.
Key West has anything that you could want: an amazing food and bar scene, gorgeous beaches and fun tours/activities of all kinds!
We have SO MANY fun posts on what to do in Key West, the area really has a wealth of all different kinds of fun no matter what you’re looking for! One of our favorite posts is The Best Things To Do in Key West at Night!
Some favorite activities of ours are the drag queen pub crawl, the ghost tour, and the sunset catamaran rides.
Bahia Honda Key
If the hustle and bustle of Key West are a little too much for your sensibilities, and you’re wanting something a little more lowkey (but still outside) then Bahia Honda Key is one of the perfect islands in the Florida Keys for you!
This spot is beloved by locals and tourists alike for a reason: It’s SO gorgeous! I mean… only if you like pristine white beaches, crystal clear water, great facilities, and unbeatable scenery though….
Originally the area was intended for use as a railroad, which initially brought it a lot of attention – today we get to enjoy the fruits of that attention to the islands in the Florida Keys even though the railroad has been long defunct!
Parts of the old railroad are still visible in some areas, the most notable being the old Bahia Honda bridge! The bridge was once the main method of transporting goods across water, and YES you can walk on the bridge, but only on the part that is open!
Since this is a State Park, there are some idiosyncrasies to be aware of in order to get the most out of your trip, all of these and more can be found in our post dedicated to Tips and Tricks for Bahia Honda State Park!
Little Duck Key
If you’re looking for a beach that is small and uncrowded, but only slightly off the beaten path, then this one of the perfect islands in the Florida Keys for you to stop at on your way to Key West!
Little duck key is a small island just off of the the island highway to Key West, and has been part of a rather chaotic name change situation with two other islands – but that’s not the fun part!
This key houses a beach that is truly like no other called Veterans Memorial Park, and if you like unique photo opportunities then you MUST check this one out!
At a first glance, this modest beach is unassuming, but there is a magical hidden gem of the islands in the Florida keys at this park that makes the trip totally worth it!
The sandy part of the beach itself is rather small, but that’s not the interesting part (although it is very nice to sit at if you don’t like getting wet!) the interesting par is what’s in the water!
The unique combination of shallow water and seagrass by themselves might not be anything to write home about, but here at Veteran’s Park they come together to make something stunning!
The dark green seagrass has been cleanly moved away in sections to make for a relatively shallow knee-high path that takes you far out to the edges of the of the sandbar, giving you the illusion of being super far away from the shore!
It truly feels like a once in a lifetime moment to gaze out at the sea when you’re already in the middle of it, you’ll feel like it’s a different world!
For even more gorgeous stops on the way, check out our post on the Best Stops On the Way to Key West!
Lower Matacumbe Key
If you’re looking for a nature-forward experience in the islands in the Florida Keys, but still want the convenience of nearby hotels and a few amazing restaurants, then this is the perfect spot for you!
Nearby just slightly up the highway is the gorgeous Lignumvitae State Park, which is a perfect place to go if you’re sticking around in the area, which makes it one of the best islands in the Florida Keys!
Other highlights of Matacumbe Key include the gorgeous beaches that are just within throwing distance all over the island – check out it, you won’t be disappointed!
For even more of the gorgeous beaches that the Florida Keys are absolutely lousy with, check out our post on the Best Beaches in Key West!
Another great pick of the islands in the Florida Keys on the way to Key West is Stock Island! In a day and age where locals of the Keys believe that the culture is changing, Stock Island is a cornerstone island that still has the “old” Florida Keys feel!
While there are gorgeous nature adventures to be had on Stock Island, there also a ton of some of the most amazing seafood restaurants and fresh seafood markets!
If you have someone in your group that likes to maybe stay back and do the cooking while people are out, this would be a great place to get an airbnb with a gorgeous kitchen!
That way, you can fully take advantage of all the gorgeous offerings from the sea that you’ll have access to!
Stock Island is a haven and playground for speed boats, so if you want something outside but need a little adrenaline, this is one of the perfect picks from the islands in the Florida Keys for you!
If you’re hungry after all the action take a look at our list of the Best Restaurants in the Keys to make some apres-boating plans!
Big Pine Key
Ok so we remember Bahia Honda from earlier in the list, right? Totally gorgeous, but what about all the other amazing areas in Big Pine Key?
This key shows up twice on this list because it really is one of the best islands in the Florida Keys!
One particular area that sticks out vividly is the wild deer sanctuary!
These are not just your average run of the mill wild deer though, they are small deer! Yes, like dog-sized deer that your children can shriek with joy at!
The deer sanctuary is one of the perfect destinations for those with children, because no one has ever met a kid that doesn’t like small animals!
As if Bahia Honda wasn’t enough? The addition of the deer sanctuary makes Big Pine Key one of the best islands in the Florida Keys!
If you want to experience all of the best that Key West and the Florida Keys has to offer, check out our amazing Florida Keys Itinerary E-book! It’s the most comprehensive compilation of info on all the coolest things to do and places to go!