There are loads of beaches in the Florida Keys to choose from, here are the top 10 thanks to their views, sand, amenities and things to do…
Located about 120 miles from the southern tip of Florida State is a series of long stretches of turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and a lively coral reef called the Florida Keys. A string of tropical islands, the Florida Keys have long been a popular holiday spot for travellers of all ages. I love the Florida Keys. It’s such a colourful and happy part of the world, I can’t wait to go back one day.
The Florida Keys are broken up into three sections: The Upper Keys, Middle Keys, and Lower Keys. All are connected by the Overseas Highway – U.S Highway 1 – and take about 2 hours to get from one end of the Florida Keys to the other. This journey makes for a great road trip from Miami to Key West (click for the best stops along the route).
There are load of things to do in the Florida Keys attracting visitors worldwide. From snorkelling and scuba diving to sunbathing and swimming, there is something for everyone when it comes to daytime activities. Then during the evening, you get to experience the stunning sunset colour of the sky as it dips into the cerulean ocean as you hang out at the local bar or partake in some famous Florida key nightlife. On that note, here’s where to find the best nightlife in the Florida Keys.
However, the crown jewels are the remarkable Florida Keys beaches you can find among the 800 keys. Although the islands were formed over coral reefs that stop sand from creating natural, sandy beaches, the state has taken it upon itself to replenish the sand and so you can still find plenty of soft Florida Keys beaches to sunbathe, swim, and relax at.
10 Best Beaches in the Florida Keys
Here are all the best Florida Keys beaches for you to choose between…
1. Smathers Beach, Florida Keys
Smathers Beach is a long stretch of soft, white sand sandwiched between swaying coconut trees and azure waters that is reminiscent more of the Bahamas rather than the United States. The largest public beach in the Florida Keys, Smathers Beach is perfect for sunbathing, people-watching, and swimming. The sand stretches out into the crystal-clear waters and so you can be sure-footed in the ocean while you chill in the calm water.
There’s a selection of beach vendors offering food perfect for a day at the beach. If you’re in want of a bit more activity than sunbathing and swimming then you can also do some kite-surfing or jet-skiing. There are also some areas to play volleyball or watch people play volleyball. All in all, Smathers Beach is a great way to get introduced to the Florida Keys beaches.
2. Harry Harris Park, Key Largo
A small, palm-lined sandy beach located on Key Largo – the largest of the Keys – Harry Harris Park is a perfect spot to bask in the warm tropical sun and swim in serene waters. With a laid-back atmosphere and great snorkeling and fishing opportunities off the stone jetty, there is plenty to draw visitors to Harry Harris Park Beach.
The shallow lagoon is protected by a stone jetty and offers calm water that kids and adults can enjoy. Another big plus to the beach is the picnic tables dotting the beach and great facilities to use nearby.
3. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo
This Florida Keys beach is located on the same Key as Harry Harris Park, in what is widely considered to be the best dive spot in the Florida Keys. The beach itself is small, but it’s what’s underwater that counts – an early Spanish sunken ship that is easily reached from the shore and is eagerly explored by snorkelers and divers alike.
Besides the aged shipwreck, the Coral Reef here is colorful, lively, and usually filled with schools of fish you can swim among. If you’re looking for the best Florida Keys beach with a bit of action underwater, this could be the one for you.
4. Long Key State Park, Long Key
If you’re in search of gleaming, crystal waters and a tranquil day of bird watching then head to Long Key State Park where you can get your fill of kayaking, swimming, and picnicking. Located on Long Key, this Florida Keys beach is shallow and safe for children. The only risk is the smattering of coral reefs and sharp rocks but they’re easily avoidable due to the clarity of the water.
As for amenities, there are restrooms, showers, barbecue pits, and picnic tables found in Long Key State Park’s Day-use beach area. There are also some hikes in the nearby park where you can spot some fascinating birds as well as a kayak rental place so you can explore the shallow lagoons up close and personal.
5. Sombrero Beach, Marathon
White sands, green lawns, swaying palms, and azure waters are all the natural attractions that draw many people to Sombrero Beach each year. Located on Marathon Key, Sombrero Beach has long topped lists for best beaches to visit in the Florida Keys, and for good reason.
With great amenities such as restrooms, showers, barbecue grills, and a playground for kids, Sombrero Beach is a great option for families and sun-worshippers alike. The rocks located a short way away from the white sand shore also provide an ideal environment for snorkelling as you inspect the aquatic life nestled between the rocks.
6. Curry Hammock State Park, Marathon
Avid Kayakers will find a slice of paradise in Curry Hammock State Park, also located on the Marathon Key. Launch from the expansive sandy beach and head to deeper waters where you can leisurely explore islets and coves. There is even a mangrove trail you can follow in your kayak and explore the birds that call that area home.
Curry Hammock State Park is known for being one of the largest, relatively untouched parks in the Florida Keys. In the day-use area, you can find covered picnic areas, a large playground, restrooms, and showers, ensuring that you have everything you need to have a fantastic day out in the Florida Keys.
7. Dry Tortugas National Park
Located west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park is a stunner when it comes to natural wonders. Only accessible via a two-hour boat ride, this National Park is a hotspot for the more adventurous couples, families, and solo travelers who want a secluded paradise to explore while in the Florida Keys.
A great spot for snorkellers and divers, Dry Tortugas National Park offers stunning reefs and a handful of shipwrecks to explore offshore. A major attraction to this tucked-away paradise is the abundance of no less than 5 different sea turtle species that like to use the region for nesting. One of my favourite Florida Keys facts is that this is the third largest Barrier Reef in the world.
Another attraction to tour while in Dry Tortugas National Park is the 19th century coastal Fort Jefferson which was used as a prison for criminals and deserters. You can tour this impressive, and oftentimes gorgeous fort and learn a bit more about the fascinating history surrounding this iconic piece of American History.
This is one of the most interesting beaches in the Florida Keys, but also one of the most difficult to get to.
Check out my Florida Keys travel tips for more advice!
8. Zachary Taylor State Park Beach, Key West
If you’re dreaming of faraway destinations such as Barbados or even Aruba, then get your fill of turquoise waters and stretches of white sand beach at the Zachary Taylor State Park Beach. America’s southernmost beach, Zachary Taylor State Park Beach brings the magic of the tropical to the States doorstep.
With warm tropical water, a selection of beach shacks and cafes, and great snorkelling, it’s easy to spend sunrise to sunset on Zachary Taylor State Park Beach. Plus, if you want a break from the heat and are interested in history, you can explore Fort Zachary Taylor which was built in 1866.
9. Higgs Beach, Key West
Already spent a couple of days sunbathing and swimming and looking for a bit more adventure to add to your beach vacation in the Keys? Then look no further than Higgs Beach.
Located on Key West, Higgs beach offers a lot more than just its gorgeous white sands and cerulean waters. Spread out around the beach area you can find volleyball courts, tennis courts, and a bike path too.
If you want to adventure out on the water then there are kayaks, paddleboards, and snorkels for rent to lure you into the water for hours at a time. Next to the amazing amenities to be found at Higgs Beach is the delicious beachside restaurant offering perfect lunch and dinners for beachgoers. Might not be one of the best restaurants in the Florida Keys, but it’s well worth a visit!
To add a cherry on top of everything that Higgs Beach has to offer, there is also a pier you can fish off and the remains of a civil war-era fort tower called West Martello Tower that offers a picturesque site to explore.
10. Calusa Beach, Bahia Honda Key
Nestled in Bahia Honda State Park on the gulf side of the Bahia Honda Key is the gorgeous curved stretch of shore called Calusa Beach. Crowded with gently swaying palms, it’s hard not to find peace and serenity here. Relaxing here is definitely one of the best things to do in the Florida Keys.
With a few stalls offering beach food and gear rentals, you can be sure that you’ve set for a day of lounging and taking in the azure waters. Plus, the imposing Bahia Honda Bridge on the western side of the beach creates some unique photo opportunities as you pose against the cerulean ocean and a historic bridge in the background.
Beaches in the Florida Keys
Lots of fantastic beaches in the Florida Keys to choose from, hey? To be honest, you can’t really go wrong. The Florida Keys have some of the best beaches IN THE WORLD (in my opinion). Hope you have a great time there!