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Visit the Best Beaches in the Florida Keys

a sandy beach next to a body of water

The best beaches in the Florida Keys are right at your fingertips! Whether you’re planning a day trip from Miami or staying in Key West, powdery white sand, crystalline water, and lush palm trees await you at dozens of immaculate Florida Keys beaches.

Though they’re best known for warm, cerulean waters and ample snorkeling spots, the beaches from Key Largo to Key West offer a wide range of amenities and attractions like playgrounds, beachside bars, dog-friendly areas, and even a Civil War-era fort. Pack your swimsuit, beach umbrella, and a good book and set out to one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys.

Key West Beaches

key west

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Smathers Beach

Known for being one of the best beaches in Key West, Smathers Beach boasts over a half-mile of pristine, white sand shores lined with palm trees. It’s an ideal location for water sports lovers since you can rent kayaks and snorkeling gear right on the beach.

At just 1.5 miles from downtown Mallory Square, on the southern shore of the island, Smathers Beach is a quick bike ride away, perfect for when you want to cool off or soak up some sun. Head there in the early morning to beat the crowds. No matter when you choose to visit, you’re sure to love the tranquil atmosphere and clean beach.

Traveling solo? Smathers Beach is a great place to socialize (especially if you come during spring break!). It’s easy to join in on a game of beach volleyball and make new friends.

Higgs Beach

Also located on the southern side of the island, Higgs Beach is one of the most inviting stretches of sand in Florida thanks to its clear turquoise waters and variety of amenities. Its calm, shallow waters are perfect for swimming, and the long wooden pier offers a nice walk to stretch your legs and enjoy the views. With playgrounds, a dog park, and beachside cafe, Higgs Beach is a wonderful place to spend the day.

The beach is part of the greater Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach Park, which offers many attractions and points of interest. Check out the Civil War-era fort, African Refugee Burial Ground, or Key West Marine Park, a shore-accessible protected snorkeling area. The park covers 40 acres between Higgs Beach and South Beach and is home to seagrass, crabs, starfish, coral, and more.

Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

a sunset over a body of water

Braden Egli, Unsplash

On the southern edge of Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor is a 54-acre park with walking trails, Civil War-era attractions, and a beautiful sandy beach with a cafe and beach rentals. Fish for your dinner off the west rock jetty, or don your mask and snorkel and immerse yourself in the beautiful underwater marine habitat. You might see parrot fish, corals, and lobsters.

If you have a day of relaxation in mind, rent a lounge chair and umbrella from the Chickee Hut. Want to do some exploring? Wooded nature trails and bike paths await. With just a $4 entry fee per vehicle, a visit to Fort Zachary Taylor is an affordable way to spend a fun summer day at the beach.

Marathon Beaches

a sunset over a beach next to the ocean

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Sombrero Beach

One of the hidden gems of the Middle Keys, Sombrero Beach in Marathon is a cozy spot for islanders and tourists alike (though it’s most frequently visited by locals). To get there, turn off U.S. 1 toward the Atlantic side (south) at mile marker 50, and drive along Sombrero Beach Road until you reach the beach.

This man-made beach has soft sand and turquoise waters, palm trees, and spectacular ocean views, with great amenities for the whole family. Enjoy its picnic areas, a playground, volleyball court, and showers. Plus, dogs on leashes are allowed at Sombrero Beach!

Gentle surf and shallow water make Sombrero Beach a wonderful place for fishing, snorkeling, and swimming.

Calusa Beach

Located in Bahia Honda State Park, on a small island just 20 minutes away from Marathon, Calusa Beach is known for its clear waters, balmy sea breezes, and incredible sunsets. Although Bahia Honda State Park has three beaches, Calusa Beach has always been the most popular. It’s the best place to go for a swim, and it offers the convenience of concessions, picnic areas, a souvenir shop, and nature center.

Sandspur Beach

Another Bahia Honda State Park beach, Sandspur Beach transports you to the Caribbean with its white coral beach and coconut palms. At 2.5 miles long, Sandspur Beach gives visitors plenty of room to stretch out, and it has even been named the best beach in America. You can walk about 50 yards in clear blue water at waist-level, making it the ideal choice for snorkeling in the Florida Keys.

Know before you go: Sandspur Beach is currently closed to repair damage from Hurricane Irma.

Visit Bahia Honda State Park on a Florida Keys road trip!

Islamorada Beaches

a row of palm trees on a sandy beach

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Anne’s Beach

After severe damage from Hurricane Irma, Islamorada’s favorite beach has reopened. Located on the southern end of Upper Matecumbe Key, Anne’s Beach is a natural sandy beach with an expansive shore, mangroves, and a long boardwalk that meanders through the trees. Equipped with picnic tables and restrooms, it’s a great spot to spend the day. Plus, it’s free to visit!

Since the water here is so shallow – almost too shallow to swim! – young kids and less experienced swimmers are right at home at Anne’s Beach. In fact, you can wade out for what feels like miles and still be only up to your knees in the water. The shallow water also makes this a popular place for windsurfing!

Islamorada Library Beach

This small strip of sand behind the Islamorada Library is a true hidden gem. With just about 30 feet of sand and no crowds to be seen, Islamorada Library Beach boasts spectacular views, clear water, and a secluded feel. There’s also a small park nearby that’s great for kids. Stop in at the library to pick up a good beach read and claim your spot in the sun.

Holiday Isle Beach

If you’re looking for spring break vibes year-round, Holiday Isle Beach is the place to be. Located near many of Islamorada’s hotels and restaurants, Holiday Isle Beach is part of a resort complex, but you don’t have to be staying there to enjoy the amenities like beach bars, sun loungers, and access to boat charters. Lounge in the sand and stay until the evening for the inevitable beach party, especially on weekends.

Key Largo Beaches

a large body of water next to the ocean

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Far Beach

One of the beaches within the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Far Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. You might even get to spot a manatee! The wide, shallow area of water is known for its warmth and easy access to snorkeling. But there are some rocks at the bottom, so we recommend packing your water shoes. Luckily, you can ditch the shoes on the smooth, sandy beach. Lay out your beach towel and take in the views of palm trees and foliage lining the shore. You can even camp overnight here!

Cannon Beach

Right next to Far Beach in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Cannon Beach gets its name from the real 17th-century cannons sitting in the sand. Like Far Beach, Cannon Beach boasts warm, shallow waters with plenty of chances to spot marine life. If diving is more your speed, swim out to the Spanish shipwreck beneath the surface for an exciting underwater experience. If you’re looking for the best beaches in Key Largo, don’t miss a chance to enjoy the cerulean waters and powdery white sand at Cannon Beach.

Harry Harris Beach

Named for former Monroe County Commissioner Harry Harris (who is now laid to rest in the park), Harry Harris Beach is a man-made beach that’s protected from waves by a coral rock barrier. The barrier’s screened culverts make the water calm and warm, almost like a tidal pool right off the shore. White sand, picnic tables, a playground, and sporting fields/courts make this public Key Largo beach a wonderful family attraction.

Looking for more fun in the sun? Many beaches in the Florida Keys offer watersport rentals, diving instruction, tours, and more. Click here to browse by location.