You’re all set with your beach towel and sunscreen, ready to hit up some of the best beaches in Key West.
But, which Key West beach are you going to pick to kick back and relax?
For such a small island, there are several to choose from.
Are you looking for a family-friendly beach for the kids to run free on, do you want a super beachy vibe with nearby bars and restaurants, or are you looking for somewhere more remote and quiet? Lucky for you, there are plenty of options to consider.
So, let’s jump right in with a list of the best Key West beaches to visit this summer.
Check out our post on the best sunglasses for the beach.
Related Post: How to Get to Key West
Here’s a list of the best beaches in Key West
This two mile stretch of white tropical sand is the largest public beach in Key West. Offering wide views of the Atlantic Ocean, this is a beach you could spend the whole day enjoying and if the sand between your toes feels like it did on your last trip to the Bahamas; you’re right!
As with all the sand on our beaches in Key West, it was imported, this one from the Bahamas. Smathers offers volleyball, snorkeling, and other water sports right from the beach.
There are picnic areas to enjoy a snack from the local beach vendors. Public restrooms can also be found nearby. Several moderately priced hotels can be found all along this beach, making it a favorite of the Spring Break crowd. As with parking anywhere in Key West, be prepared to pay a meter.
This beach is located ½ mile further south of Smathers on Atlantic Blvd. near White St. This little beach with its shallow water and beach side playground has much to offer families with small children. Along with swimming and water sports, you can find a pier, restaurant, volleyball, tennis, and handball courts nearby. Dogs are welcome at the dog park across the street. There is even a civil war era fort and garden to enjoy with your children. A limited amount of free parking is available for this beach.
Located on the southern end of Vernon & Waddel Streets this is the only beach in the Keys were dogs, as well as other pets, can go to freely swim and play.
It is a favorite of families with pets but don’t plan on having the kids build sand castles or laying out on your towel to catch some rays while Fido is frolicking with Fifi; it is a dog’s beach! It is not cleaned by the city; just by responsible pet owners.
This parcel of land is squeezed between Louie’s Backyard and The Reach Resort. To make sure I don’t steer you wrong I called our friends at Louie’s Backyard and confirmed your pooch is still welcome at the bar during lunch hour so you can grab a delicious bite to eat while your dog catches the waves.
As a side note: if you want to go to Louie’s for dinner and bring the dog, to be on the safe side, you should give the manager a call first to see what the crowd is like.
Located next to Higgs Beach, Rest Beach is wheelchair accessible and where you will find the White Street Pier. This is a great place to fish, relax, and enjoy the natural vegetation.
Fort Zachary Taylor
This 54 acre state park is where the Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico and home to probably the all around best beach Key West has to offer.
If you prefer to sit in the shade; no problem. If you like to roast under the sun; no problem. If you want to swim or snorkel; no problem. If you’d rather sit on a beach chair but forgot to bring one; no problem. If you like to bike or walk along the wooded park; no problem!
I think you get the idea.
In addition to all that there is also the Civil War fort, which you can get a guided tour of, and fishing is allowed on the western end. It is a wonderful place to see the famous sunset views Key West is known for. Public restrooms, a food and drink kiosk, chair rentals, picnic tables and BBQ grill pits are there too. The beach can be a bit rocky so I advise bringing your flipflops. There is an admission fee. To get to the beach you enter through the Truman Annex at Southard Street.
Despite its name the beach is not related to its Miami namesake. This small and open area is a favorite of locals. The beach is nice and sandy and the water is fairly shallow allowing you to walk out quite a way. There is also a concrete pier.
There are no restrooms or facilities but there is a snack bar and you can easily walk to nearby restaurants. The beach is located at the south end of Duval Street on the Atlantic Ocean.
Broken Glass Beach
At first glance this probably was not the best choice in names for a public beach area in a tourist town, however; there was method to the madness and it has to do with a bit of Key West history, albeit the less exciting side.
This strip of the Atlantic shoreline is best accessed at low tide and getting to it does require steeping down off a retaining wall. The terrain is somewhat rocky and thus this not my first recommendation for beaches.
The name Broken Glass Beach stems from when the local garbage dump used to be situated on the site many years ago and it has been obviously well cleaned up since. Well some of the broken glass remained and after years of being pounded by the surf and being rolled back and forth over the rocks, corral and sand, these glass pieces are now nicely rounded and are much sought after by jewelry makers!
We love our town and all its charm to bits and I want you to enjoy every part of what I share with you, however; suffice it to say Simonton Beach is not really a place you need to visit. We added it here to cancel any doubt about not having included it, just in case you wonder why when you see it on a map.
Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas
Articles like this wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the most inaccessible national park in America, 70 miles off the shores of Key West, out on Garden Key.
This group of seven small islands, first discovered by Ponce de Leon, is home to the largest coastal fort; the majestic Fort Jefferson. The only ways to get there are by high speed ferry or seaplane, both of which depart from Key West and since seating is limited on each trip out you are best advised to book in advance.
The trip is worth it though. The palm lined beaches are pristine and snorkeling over the living reef is an experience you’ll never forget!
Apart from some of the best beaches in the US, Key West is also known for watersports, lively nightlife, historic sites, and, of course, their Key Lime Pie.