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If you’re looking for a slice of paradise on your vacation, the Florida Keys beaches are waiting for you. The best beaches in the Florida Keys are straight out of a postcard, with soft white sand, palm trees and turquoise water.
I absolutely love visiting the Florida Keys, and there are so many cool things to do here — but if you’re just here to hang out on the beaches, that’s fine, too!
What you should know before visiting, though, is that most of the Keys are edged in mangroves. Many of the beaches are small and a bit scraggly. Though there are some truly beautiful beaches in the Florida Keys, you shouldn’t expect the miles-long white sand stunners that you get along the Gulf Coast.
From Key Largo to Key West, from Marathon to Islamorada, let’s take a look at the best beaches in the Florida Keys!
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Best Beaches in the Florida Keys
Which beaches in the Florida Keys are the best of the best, the ones that you’ll be dreaming about? Here are what I consider the best Florida Keys beaches.
Here they are:
Calusa Beach, Bahia Honda Key
Good for: swimming, families, isolation, picnics, camping, snorkeling
Calusa Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the Florida Keys, and is located at the southernmost point of Bahia Honda Key. This family-friendly beach has shallow water, making it a good option for younger kids.
However, with fame comes popularity. If you’re coming to Bahia Honda Key, I strongly recommend you arrive early in the day. By afternoon you might not even be able to get in.
As part of Bahia Honda State Park, there are a few camping spots, but if you plan on spending the night tent-side, be sure to book well in advance! Restrooms and showers are available, as well as kayak and snorkeling gear for rent. The state park fee is $8 per vehicle.
Smathers Beach, Key West
Good for: swimming, watersports, beach volleyball, picnics, Miami day-trippers
Smathers Beach is located on the south side of Key West on the Atlantic Ocean side and is the largest free public beach in the area. If you’re looking for a great beach in Key West, this is the one you want to enjoy!
This is a nice spot for kayaking, jet skiing, windsurfing, and more. Rentals are available, and parking is $5 per vehicle. Restrooms and showers are available, and there are plenty of places to eat nearby if you don’t bring a picnic basket.
And Smathers Beach is right alongside Key West’s small airport (keep an eye out for low-flying planes!) and Margaritaville House is right around the corner.
Beaches of Dry Tortugas National Park
Good for: isolation, swimming, sunbathing, strolling, day tripping from Key West
Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles west of Key West, and is a very special place to visit in the Florida Keys. Trips here tend to book out far in advance, so I recommend booking a trip either by boat or seaplane as soon as you have your trip dates. Another option is chartering a boat of your own.
Dry Tortugas offers stunning snorkeling and boating opportunities around the historic Fort Jefferson. The remote location makes it a special destination for those seeking isolation and an escape from the busier parts of the Keys. And the beaches here are SENSATIONAL. Dinghy Beach, Seaplane Beach, and South Swim Beach all feature soft sand and turquoise waters.
Entrance fees to Dry Tortugas are $15 per person ages 16+ and are good for seven consecutive days.
Coco Plum Beach, Marathon
Good for: families, picnicking
Coco Plum Beach is located in the town of Marathon on the Atlantic side, and is a favorite for families due to its calm waters and shallow depth. It is also a natural sea turtle nesting area, hosting Atlantic Green turtles, loggerheads, leatherbacks, and Hawksbill turtles.
You will absolutely love the soft sand here, and despite its popularity, this beach is on the quieter side.
Restrooms and a pavilion with a couple of picnic tables are available. This beach is free to the public. It is also one of the few dog-friendly beaches in the Middle Keys.
Far Beach, Key Largo
Good for: families, picnics, camping, swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling
Far Beach is located within John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, and is known for its crystal-clear waters and soft sand. It is an ideal spot for sunbathing and picnics. Nearby amenities and calm waters make it family-friendly and numerous palm trees pepper the beach if you want to seek some shade.
Pennekamp State Park is one of the best places in the Keys for snorkeling, so I highly recommend you bring your mask and flippers!
This is one of the most popular beaches in Key Largo, so arrive early to grab your spot in the sand. To enter John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, each vehicle pays $8 plus $0.50 per person. If you want to camp overnight, the fees start at $36.
Higgs Beach, Key West
Good for: sunbathing, families, kayaking, snorkeling, history buffs
Higgs Beach is located in Key West, offering a serene environment perfect for families and sunbathers. Its calm waters along with concessions to rent beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and paddleboards make this beach a local favorite.
A Civil War-era fort lends a taste of history, along with a beachside café, the African Refugee Memorial, and an AIDS memorial. Higgs Beach is also home to the only shore-accessible underwater marine park in the U.S. The adjacent Key West Garden Club offers self-guided tours of Fort West Martello and its beautiful gardens.
You’ve got plenty of amenities here, including restrooms, showers, beach volleyball courts, and a restaurant.
Sombrero Beach, Marathon
Good for: swimming, sunbathing, families, snorkeling, volleyball, kayaking, sunrises and sunsets
Sombrero Beach is located in the town Marathon, in the southwest part of Vaca Key, close to Boot Key. This beach boasts clear waters and beautiful sandy shores, making it perfect for families, snorkelers, and sunbathers. The location has incredible sunset views, making it a popular spot for photographers. Plenty of early risers come out to photograph the sunrise, too!
There are bathroom and shower facilities with filtered water stations, so bring your refillable water bottle. There is also a playground for the kids and a volleyball court. And, loggerhead turtles can often be spotted nesting from April to October!
More Beaches in the Florida Keys
Cannon Beach, Key Largo
Good for: picnicking, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, swimming, families, Miami day-trippers
Cannon Beach is located in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, and is a hot spot for snorkeling and diving due to its historic Spanish shipwreck. The shallow waters with no big waves make this a top choice for families with small children, with a roped-off swimming area.
Snorkeling is a popular pastime at this beach, as this park is one of the best places for snorkeling in the Keys! And thanks to Key Largo’s proximity to Miami (about 90 minutes), this beach is a popular choice for day trippers.
Sunset Park Beach, Key Colony Beach
Good for: isolation, couples, sunsets, picnicking, shelling
Sunset Park Beach is tucked away in Key Colony Beach, very close to Marathon, and is a favorite among adults for its tranquility. This beach is ideal for watching breathtaking sunsets and having quiet picnics.
Partially covered by trees, this is the perfect place to escape the Florida heat. Although not great for swimming, beach walks here are divine, and you can often find tiny seashells on the beach. Access to the beach is free and there are changing rooms, showers, and toilets.
Harry Harris Park Beach, Key Largo
Good for: families, swimming, picnics, snorkeling
Harry Harris Park Beach is located on Key Largo and is a hidden gem in the town of Tavernier. This family-oriented beach boasts a playground and picnic area, making it a popular outing for families visiting the Keys! What makes the beach unique is that there’s a large enclosed tidal pool, pictured above.
This beach is free to the public during the week. On weekends, non-residents pay $8 for adults, and $5 for seniors and children ages 3–17. Active military, disabled vets, and their immediate families are free with ID.
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, Islamorada
Good for: isolation, swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, history buffs
Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is an island located off the coast of Islamorada in the Upper Keys, and is heaven for nature lovers and boaters. This park is accessible only by boat or kayak, making it a great spot for those seeking isolation and a tranquil escape.
Here, you can find small white sand beaches tucked amongst the mangroves. There’s one with your name on it!
Lignumvitae is not just a beach but also a historical site so be sure to visit the Matheson House Visitor Center while you’re there. William J. Matheson was a wealthy Miami chemist who bought the island back in 1919. Admission to the state park is $2.50 per person.
Anne’s Beach, Islamorada
Good for: swimming, picnics
Anne’s Beach was named after local environmentalist Anne Eaton. The beach is situated in Islamorada at the southern end of Upper Matecumbe Key. It’s perfect for sunbathers and swimmers, offering shallow waters and soft sands. Often times the water is so shallow here that only wading is possible.
The unique amenity here is the 1,300-foot boardwalk, which connects the beach areas to two parking lots with restroom facilities and a handful of pavilions with picnic tables. This public beach is free.
Rowell’s Waterfront Park, Key Largo
Good for: swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding
Rowell Park Beach is located in Key Largo, where the swimming hole is actually a tidal pool. It is somewhat deep at around 10 feet, with no real shallow water to speak of, so you will need to know how to swim! The tidal pool is surrounded by a concrete wall with a ladder to help you get out of the water.
There is a small patch of sand to lounge on that does not merge with the water, but offers great views, nonetheless! Does that make this a beach? I think it’s close enough!
The pool is blocked off from the ocean by a lovely line of breakwater rocks, making this beach a unique one in the Keys.
Indian Key Historic State Park, Islamorada
Good for: swimming, hiking, kayaking, fishing, boating, history buffs
Indian Key Historic State Park is another island located off the coast of Islamorada and is a must-visit for Florida history buffs. The island park is accessible only by boat, offering an adventurous outing for boating enthusiasts. You can swim along the shore for something adventurous.
There is a little bit of hiking on the island in the form of an interpretive trail, which takes you through the historic community of Indian Key. Because it is a state park, admission is $2.50 per person.
Loggerhead Beach, Bahia Honda Key
Good for: snorkeling, kayaking, shelling
Loggerhead Beach is also situated in Bahia Honda State Park, adjacent to Calusa Beach, and is a perfect destination for snorkeling enthusiasts thanks to its clear waters and vibrant marine life.
The beach here has a view of the Bahia Honda Rail Bridge, also known as the “interrupted bridge,” with one key piece of it missing! Don’t look for that to be replaced anytime soon; it’s the golden goose!
There is a tiny island just offshore, perfect for kayaking and donning snorkeling gear to explore the waters full of marine life. And you can enjoy a sandbar to hunt for shells and sea glass when the tide is out.
South Beach (Pocket Park Beach), Key West
Good for: swimming, sunbathing, Key West day-trippers, sunrise
South Beach (not to be confused with Miami’s famous beach of the same name) is located in Pocket Park in Key West and is known for its shallow waters and soft sand. You should know that this is a SMALL beach — just a bit of sand at the end of Duval Street!
This is a public beach and there are no bathrooms, but you can rent beach chairs. Because it’s right at the end of popular Duval Street and close to the Southernmost Point of the Continental USA, you get your fair share of tourists passing through.
If you’re feeling peckish, eat at the nearby Southernmost Café which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at reasonable prices. And there’s a bit of history here: literary legend Tennessee Williams swam at this beach nearly every day when he lived in Key West.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach, Key West
Good for: swimming, picnicking, paddling, hiking, bird watching, snorkeling, history buffs, sunsets
The beach at Fort Zachary is located in Key West and is more than just a beach. It’s part of a historic state park that’s home to a pre-Civil War Fort. The beach itself is excellent for swimming and snorkeling, while the park is popular for its rich history.
This state park is the westernmost part of Key West’s mainland. You know what that means — sunsets galore! This is one of the best beaches in Key West to watch the sunset.
This place is great for witnessing spring and fall bird migrations, and the Tropical Hammock Trail invites a nice stroll among native plants. As this beach is in a state park, visitors pay $6 per vehicle.
C.B. Harvey Rest Beach, Key West
Good for: couples, sea shelling, snorkeling, picnics, sunsets
“Rest Beach” (as called by the locals) is also located in Key West. This small beach is known for its spectacular sunset views, making it an ideal spot for couples and adults looking for a peaceful end to their day. You’ll find it adjacent to Higgs Beach just on the other side of White Street Pier.
One unique feature is its natural vegetation and small dunes, giving the beach a secluded feel. This provides shade and the smattering of picnic tables allows for easy lunching. The tides also bring shells. This beach is free to visit.
Founders Park Beach, Islamorada
Good for: families, picnics, Miami day-trippers
Founders Park Beach is a 45-acre park located in Islamorada along the Florida Bay side. This park has quite a few amenities, including a swimming pool, sports facilities, a splash pad, playgrounds, picnic spots, grills, a skate park, and a marina, and it has something for everyone!
How often do you have an Olympic-sized swimming pool just off a beach in the Florida Keys? Not that often! Non-resident fees are $8 for adults and $5 for kids 3–17. Active U.S. military and disabled veterans (with ID) and immediate family are free.
Curry Hammock State Park Beach, Marathon
Good for: camping, snorkeling, paddling, kiteboarding, wildlife viewing
Curry Hammock State Park is located in Marathon and is a popular spot for campers, due to the park’s well-equipped campsites. The clear waters also attract snorkeling enthusiasts. The beach at Curry Hammock is the largest stretch of undeveloped land between Key Largo and Big Pine Key, making it a big draw for those who like quiet, more natural beaches.
Because it is a state park, fees are $4.50 per person or $5.50 per couple, $6.50 for three, and an additional $0.50 per person, for up to six people at $8. Camping fees are $35 per night, plus tax.
Long Key State Park Beach, Long Key
Good for: families, campers, bird-watching, swimming, kayaking, hiking, isolation
Long Key State Park is located on Long Key, near the town of Layton. Known for its seclusion and natural beauty, this beach is a favorite among campers and those seeking solitude. The shallow, calm waters also make it a safer choice for families with young children.
Two nice hiking trails offer additional solace. State Park fees are $4.50 per person or $5.50 per couple, $6.50 for three, and an additional $0.50 per person, for up to six people at $8. Camping fees are $22.50 per night plus tax (walk-in, tent only).
Veterans Memorial Beach, Little Duck Key
Good for: families, camping, snorkeling, picnics, sunrises
Veterans Memorial Beach is situated on Little Duck Key, a small island just north of Bahia Honda State Park. This beach is well-suited for picnics and family outings with its pavilions and barbecue grills. The park also offers dedicated areas for camping, making it a hit among outdoor enthusiasts.
With ample vegetation and a few lazy palm trees, and very little to the east, this beach makes a fine place to catch a Florida sunrise. And if you’re here during low tide, you can walk to a sandbar about 100 yards off shore.
This public beach is free to the public.
Simonton Street Beach, Key West
Good for: sunbathing, sunsets, downtown proximity
Simonton Street Beach is a small, man-made beach located in Key West. Located in the heart of downtown Key West, this is a perfect place to stop and soak up the sun for a bit, or even take a swim!
Once a forgotten little area, the beach has seen a revitalization in recent years with the addition of a concession stand where visitors can rent beach chairs and umbrellas. The beach is free to the public.
Key Colony Beach, Marathon
Good for: fishing, boating, families
Key Colony Beach is a municipality located in the heart of Marathon and is also home to the previously mentioned Sunset Park Beach. This long beach on the Atlantic side is lovely for boating and fishing, with a community park and lots of amenities nearby for additional recreational activities.
Many of the homes in this area are Florida Keys vacation home rentals that come with private beaches. Activities include a 9-hole golf course, an array of outdoor sports, and a playground for the kids.
Sandspur Beach, Bahia Honda Key
Good for: solitude, camping, picnicking, snorkeling
Sandspur Beach is one of the excellent beaches in Bahia Honda State Park. Known for its soft white sand, shallow sparkling waters, and tall palm trees, this is a great spot for snorkeling. It feels a lot more remote than the other beaches in the state park, with views along the Atlantic coast.
At nearly a mile long, this beach is doesn’t get as crowded as nearby Calusa Beach — but I still recommend arriving early.
Restrooms are available near the parking lot. The beach also has camping facilities for those fond of overnight stays. A handful of them have ocean views so be sure to snag your spot of paradise. The state park day fee is $8 per vehicle.
Florida Keys Beaches Map
Above, you’ll find a map of the best beaches in the Florida Keys. No matter where you’re based, you’ll be able to get yourself to a fabulous beach!
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Have you been to the Florida Keys? What’s your favorite beach? Share away!