9 Best Beaches in Key West, FL to Visit in Spring 2023

best beaches in key west floridabest beaches in key west florida

Key West, the southernmost city in the state, offers visitors some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. It is an island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and is famous for charming architecture, historic sites, nightlife, and stunning beaches.

Each Key West beach has unique features. Some beaches have a quiet, serene atmosphere where visitors linger to watch the spectacular sunsets. Others have shallow waters and gentle waves and are perfect for families with young kids. Key West is also the ideal vacation destination for snorkeling, parasailing, or jet skiing if you love water sports.

Most of the beaches on Key West are on the south shore. If you seek seclusion, some of the most remote beaches in Key West are within the boundaries of state and national parks.

Visitors also love Key West for its warm, sunny climate. Average winter temperatures range from 75 – 80 degrees. Therefore, Key West is a perfect destination for summer or winter.

Here are six of the best beaches in Key West, Florida you should not miss on your next trip to the Sunshine State.

Suggested: 6 Best beaches near Miami, Florida

Best Beaches in KEY WEST, FL

Smathers Beach

The most popular and one of the most extensive beaches on Key West is Smathers Beach. The two-mile-long beach on Roosevelt Boulevard is one mile from Key West International Airport.

Amenities for beachgoers include showers, restrooms, and volleyball courts. Shops on the beach rent beach umbrellas, chairs, and sports equipment, including jet skis, kayaks, and snorkeling gear. Stalls along Roosevelt Boulevard sell food and drinks.

One of the best features of Smathers Beach is the sloping shoreline and mild ocean currents, making it ideal for swimming. The gradual slope of the coastline allows swimmers to wade quite a distance into the water.

Note that Smathers Beach has no entry fee, so it’s perfect for family beach outings. It is also one of the most popular beaches at peak times, so plan on arriving early.

Higgs Beach

The centrally located Higgs Beach is a short walk or drive from Smather’s Beach. Higgs is the beach for you if you prefer beaches with fewer crowds.

This small beach features a restaurant, gardens, and a variety of rental shops that carry equipment for water sports. Higgs Beach also has a playground for the kids and a dog park.

What’s more, Higgs Beach is the perfect spot for spectacular sunrise and sunset views. It features a yoga deck where local yoga instructors have morning and evening classes. If you’re a night person, spend some time at Higgs Beach, then head over to the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration that takes place 365 days a year.

Dog Beach

Planning a beach day or a run along the beach with your furry friend? The best beach for dog lovers is, as the name suggests, Dog Beach.

The beach is the one location on Key West where your best friend can run free. Dog Beach is a fun spot for your pup to get some exercise and make new friends.

Large and small breed dogs can splash in the water, and owners don’t have to worry about other beachgoers. The beach can be a fun place to explore. However, the terrain near the coast is hilly and rocky, and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your buddy.

Dog Beach is a favorite location for pet parents that both visit or live on the island. The beach is small and might be hard to find if you aren’t familiar with the area. The best way to find it is to look for Louie’s Backyard, a dog-friendly restaurant at Vernon and Waddell which is right next to the beach.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Visitors who love being on the water can plan a day trip to Dry Tortugas Beach at Dry Tortugas National Park. The beach is located approximately 90 miles from Key West but is considered one of the Key West beaches since it can be reached by ferry. Ideally, you should plan on spending a day at the park.

The beach is lined with graceful, swaying palm trees and is perfect for capturing photos of nature. You can also swim there, play on the beach with the kids or relax in the shade.

Another amazing attraction at Dry Tortuga is the colorful coral reefs and exploring it is one of the top activities there.

If history interests you, tours of Fort Jefferson, constructed in the 19th century, are a fascinating way to spend time, too. A few options for tours and excursions are available.

As you will be on an island, prepare to bring a picnic lunch if you choose an option in which meals aren’t included. When you plan your trip to the island, bring anything you might need for the day since there aren’t any stores on Dry Tortuga.

Transportation from the mainland for campers is allowed by private boat, ferry from Key West, or approved tour guides. Campsites are available for groups of up to six. Large groups must reserve in advance.

If you love adventure, you can reserve a seaplane to transport you to and from Dry Tortuga.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach is one of the most unique beaches in Key West. Instead of a sandy beach, the beach here is composed of ground, natural coral. The beach at the state park is well-maintained and there are chairs, beach umbrellas, and water sports rentals available.

The attraction at Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is the habitat of native animals, exotic plant life, and spectacular snorkeling sites. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach is renowned as one of the best snorkeling locations in Key West. Goliath groupers and schools of tiny fish that dwell among the coral reefs are among the species you’ll observe. You’ll be also able to swim up close to sea turtles and playful dolphins.

After your snorkeling adventure, you can relax on the beach or take a leisurely walk along the nature trails. Another exciting feature of the state park is the historic fort named after President Zachary Taylor. Park rangers guide tours of the fort.

South Beach

South Beach on Duval Street in Key West is quite different from the famous beach in Miami and it’s not surprising that it got its name from its southernmost location.

It is the perfect destination for family beach days. The beach is smaller than most Key West beaches but features a resort, pier, and a café.

The beautiful, crystal-clear water is calm and shallow, so the kids safely paddle around in the surf. And the atmosphere is very relaxing. You can rent lounge chairs and beach towels or just take a quick dip in the ocean.

Purchase snacks and drinks at nearby stands or the beachfront cafe. For early risers, the South Beach Pier is one of the best locations on the island to view the sunrise.

Simonton Beach

Simonton Beach is ideal for people wishing to escape the hordes of tourists. It is the only public beach in downtown Key West and is located just feet from Mallory Square. 

This pet-friendly beach is popular among residents, so it’s important to arrive as early as possible to guarantee a place on the sand. Despite the smooth sand beach, the shoreline can be rocky, thus swimmers should wear water shoes.

Despite its small size, Simonton Beach features a good assortment of services, including a boat ramp and on-site chair and umbrella rentals. It also has picnic tables and restrooms, as well as a small food seller on the beach.

A beachfront restaurant provides a comprehensive selection of water sports rentals, including Jet Skis and boats, as well as sunset cruises and charter tours for snorkeling, fishing, dolphin viewing, and island tours.

Rest Beach

The appropriately called Rest Beach is a modest but popular (and frequently busy ) beach in Key West, located in the same park as Higgs Beach. The beach’s location is ideal for giving visitors the best sunrise and sunset views, and that’s its most famous feature.

This is the right place for you if you are looking for a change from the boisterous ambiance of the sunset celebrations at Mallory Park. However, here you will find a quiet place to take in the scenery.

There is a designated yoga deck where guests can take morning and evening yoga classes to welcome the day or night, adding to the tranquil atmosphere of Rest Beach.

County Beach 

Located between Rest Beach and Higgs Memorial Beach Park, County Beach is a pretty spot for sunbathers who do not want to swim (swimmers should head over to neighboring beaches to dip their toes).

Although the sandy area is shallow, the shore of this man-made beach is made up of large stones strategically placed to keep out the tide.

What’s the advantage? Families with children like to flock to Higgs Beach to the west, making it quieter and less crowded. Another advantage is that it faces the incredibly photogenic West Martello Tower.