Key West is a beach bum magnet. Although it’s just a mile wide and four miles long, this island city boasts some of the most gorgeous beaches in the Florida Keys. Like its local residents, the beaches on Key West are perpetually fun, sometimes quirky, and exotic.
Not only are these oceanfront wonders picture-perfect, but they are also playgrounds for those who want to celebrate the sun and sand. What’s more, Key West beaches dazzle and wow their visitors with their spectacular and dramatic sunsets.
So, pack your swimsuit, lotion, sunnies, and head to our handpicked best favorites. Whether you’re traveling alone or with your family, these beaches are sure to give you a healthy dose of vitamin sea.
If you’re looking for more, be sure to check out our extensive guide to Key West to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the fun during your visit.
Don’t forget your Beach Essentials when you visit Key West!
11 Best Beaches on Key West
Table of Contents
1. Smathers Beach Key West
Smathers Beach is, hands down, the most popular beach in Key West. Stunning and action-packed, this two-mile stretch has everything you need for a day filled with fun in the sun and sand.
If you want some action, you’ll find tons of watersport rentals, beach volleyball, and food vendors at this beach. Of course, there are a few nice spots for those who want to lounge, unwind, sunbathe, and escape their frenzied lifestyle.
There are lounge chair rentals, public restrooms available, and plenty of free parking along the boulevard. On top of it all, you can enter this beach at no cost at all.
- Address: 2601 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA
- Contact number: (305) 809-3700
- Opening hours: 7:00 to 23:00 daily
2. South Beach
Don’t let its name deceive you! Sure, it shares the same name with the glitzy and trendy strip in Miami Beach. But trust me, it’s nowhere as busy, fast-paced, and hectic as the famed South Beach.
On the contrary, this 200-foot-long public stretch is quite laid-back and ideal for a relaxing day at the beach. Plus, it has stunning, spotless, shallow, and calm waters, making it one of the best beaches on Key West for families.
There’s no public restroom on this beach, but there are some makeshift food stalls available here. Additionally, it’s situated near the Southernmost Cafe, which offers dinner, lunch, and breakfast at reasonable rates.
- Address: 1405 Duval St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
- Contact number: (305) 295-6550
3. Rest Beach
At 300 yards long, Rest Beach is pretty small, even when compared to the other best beaches on Key West. But, guess what? It has, undoubtedly, the most picturesque sunsets and sunrises in the island city.
With its unrivaled vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, the beach is worth the early morning sojourn. If you’re not a morning person, you’ll love the lively nightly sunset celebrations in the nearby Mallory Square.
There’s also a yoga deck on the beach and regular classes for weary travelers and locals who want to exercise, meditate, and stretch.
- Address: White St & Atlantic Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA
- Contact number: (305) 809-3700
4. Higgs Beach Key West
Searching for a more serene and less crowded alternative to Smathers Beach? Actually, you don’t have to drive far to find a peaceful stretch near Smathers. From Smathers, you can reach Higgs Beach in a few minutes on foot.
If you just want to relax, read a book, and sunbathe sans the crowds, this is the place to go. With its palm-fringed shore and tropical vibe, it’s quite easy on the eyes too.
And, when you ache for some action, you’ll find a bunch of shops nearby offering rentals for watersports equipment and snorkeling gear.
Nearby to Higgs Beach are the remains of the West Martello Fort. It features the same beautiful brick work that can be found at Fort Jefferson. Today the fort is maintained as a stunning botanical garden with ocean views.
Also, be sure to make a stop at the African Refugee Cemetery Memorial to learn about the early slave trade in the Florida Keys. It’s an insightful and moving monument to a sad past.
- Address: 1000 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, FL 33040, USA
- Contact number: (305) 295-4385
5. Casa Marina Resort
Want a more private and deluxe beach escape in Key West? Why not enjoy a stay at this fabulous seaside resort? Managed by Waldorf Astoria, this luxurious mansion-style waterfront resort entices guests with its private 1,000-foot beach and unparalleled hospitality.
There’s no shortage of fantastic amenities at this resort too. They even serve first-rate cocktails and offer cucumber slices that you may use as you relax on the beach. Did we mention that it has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places?
While staying at the resort, you might want to indulge in their soothing and rejuvenating spa treatments. From aromatherapy to deep-tissue massage treatments, the resort offers a plethora of therapeutic spa services.
- Address: 1500 Reynolds St, Key West, FL 33040, United States
- Contact number: (305) 296-3535
6. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is simply one-of-a-kind. Unlike most beaches on Key West, this seaside marvel is set within an National Historic Landmark. Not to mention, its shoreline is 100% natural, meaning it doesn’t use imported Caribbean sands.
The beach is a prime snorkeling spot as well, offering plenty of opportunities to see amazing wildlife, like dolphins and turtles. And, when you need a quick break from the surf, sand, and salt, you may get a ranger-led tour of its historic fort.
Besides highlighting Civil War era relics, this tour also includes scenic nature trails.
- Address: 601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040, United States
- Contact number: (305) 292-6713
7. Dry Tortugas
If you’re really looking for an off-the-beaten-path option for Key West beaches, then you’ll want to book the ferry or seaplane and visit Dry Tortugas National Park.
Garden Key offers sugar-white sand, turquoise waters, and some nice swim areas accessible via East, South, and North Beach. Ideal for snorkelers and newbie swimmers, these beaches offer easy entry and gradual slopes.
Be sure to leave enough time to explore the historic Fort Jefferson, the largest brick building in the United States.
8. Sunset Key
Spanning 27 acres, this exceptional, deluxe island offers a slice of heaven on earth for sun-seekers. With soft white sands and striking Gulf vistas, this quaint cove is also a haven of irresistible tropical beauty.
Expect first-class facilities and services at this resort island. For foodies, you can’t afford to miss the Latitude Cafe. Spearheaded by the well-known Chef Todd Holender, this cafe appeases taste buds with a smorgasbord of mouth-watering Caribbean goodies and staples.
- Address: 245 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, United States
- Contact number: (305) 292-5300
9. Bahia Honda State Park
Technically, Bahia Honda State Park isn’t part of Key West. But since it’s a short drive away from the city, we’re sneaking it in on our list of the best beaches on Key West.
Make no mistake about it – this state park is one stellar and unforgettable seaside getaway.
You can easily spend the entire day in this state park relishing the grandeur of its exquisite sugar-white beach. Likewise, it’s a superb place to do some snorkeling.
Fond of animals? With its flourishing reef, you’ll also discover a multitude of marine life here, including barracuda, rays, and nurse sharks. On land, visitors will also lay eyes on the highly endangered and rare Miami Blue butterfly.
- Address: 36850 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043-3517, USA
- Contact number: (305) 872-2353
- Opening hours: 8:00 until sunset
10. Simonton Street Beach
Situated near Duval Street, this cove is significantly smaller than the other beaches on Key West. In fact, it can only accommodate a maximum of 30 visitors.
Still, it’s worth a pit stop, especially if you’re looking for underrated and offbeat attractions in Key West.
Savvy visitors often make a beeline for the waterfront’s sandy dunes, which include dock chair rentals and a dedicated swimming spot. Arrive early here to gain access to the beach and look for a cozy and quiet spot where you can enjoy the glistening white sands.
When hunger strikes, make your way to the Lagerheads Beach Bar and Watersports shack. Once there, sample their fresh fish paired with toasted Cuban bread.
- Address: Simonton Street, Key West, Florida, 33040, USA
11. The Reach Resort
No list of the best beaches on Key West is complete without the Reach Resort. Resting on a tranquil white sand stretch that faces the Atlantic, this impressive resort guarantees a lavish and idyllic oceanfront getaway.
As you stay at this resort, make sure to wake up and savor a tantalizing sunrise view on the beach. Afterwards, indulge in a hearty breakfast and spend the rest of the day just enjoying the private natural beach.
You can also ask the resort staff to arrange some thirst-quenching drinks, popsicles, wet towels, and lounge chairs. And if you want to spice up your beach trip a bit, you may head to Duval Street and go on a shopping spree.
Then, take a short stroll to the Instagrammable Key West Lighthouse.
- Address: 1435 Simonton St, Key West, FL 33040, United States
- Contact number: (305) 296-5000
Our visit to Key West was done in partnership with The Florida Keys & Key West. All opinions, recommendations, and stories are 100% our own, as always.
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