Natural beaches are rare in the Florida Keys.
The shoreline is rocky coral, the coral forming the foundation of this series of scenic islands and offshore reefs interrupting the natural flow of sand to shore.
Resort hotels create their own beaches by bringing in sand. Others hope that you will be happy with their pools. In any case, these beaches and pools are not open to the public unless you are a guest.
If you look closely, there are several public beaches. You just have to know where to go. Here are our 14 most popular public beaches in the Florida Keys.
The best beaches in the Upper Keys
places to stay|Places to eat|places to play
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo
Coral Reef State Park mit John PennealreadyMile marker 102.8refers to what is underwater, and most diving and snorkeling takes place from shore from a vessel.
The main beach is Cannon Beach, the busier of the two, near the concession area with ample parking. My choice is Far Beach, which is further away, a short walk or bike ride on the paved path.
Snorkeling at Cannon Beach reveals artifacts from the 1715 Spanish shipwreck and can be a good diving experience, especially for children. Significant marine life can be seen in the seagrass beds along both beaches.
Admission to the park is $4.50 for a single vehicle; $8 per vehicle plus 50 cents per person up to 8 people; $2.50 per person after 8 people; $2 for pedestrians and cyclists.
Associated witness:Coral Reef State Park mit John Penne
Harry Harris Park, Key Largo
This small park features a man-made beach with a shallow, sheltered lagoon good for children, picnic tables, a picnic hut, and a playground.
Located next to the Übersee Autobahn in a residential area, the park is a great place for a picnic or swimming. The park is also appreciated for its boat ramp.
Admission is free for residents. $5 for non-residents on weekends and holidays. $10 to launch the boat.
Harry Harris Park, East Beach Road s Burton Drivea izMile marker 92.6on US 1
The best beaches in the Middle Keys
places to stay|Places to eat|places to play
Državni-Park Long Key, Long Key
Long Keya Beach is shallow with deeper water areas that rarely exceed shoulder height. It's a perfect beach for children. Once you have to watch out for isolated outcrops of coral rocks, but these can easily be avoided as the water is crystal clear.
Launch your own kayak (or rent one) from the beach and paddle around the island. Due to the shallow water, the sea is usually quite calm and is therefore suitable for both rowers and swimmers. The beach lounge area has picnic tables, a lounge and outdoor showers.
The oceanfront campground was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, but the day beach is open.
Park admission is $4.50 per vehicle (one person) or $5 per vehicle (plus 50 cents per person, 2 or more people). Pedestrians and cyclists: $2.50. Kayak rental is $17.50 for a single person and $21.50 for a double kayak for 2 hours.
Long Key State Parkis onMile marker 67.5, 67400 Overseas Highway, Layton.
Associated witness:Long Key State Park: A jewel of the Florida Keys, but no longer suitable for camping
Curry Hammock State Park, Marathon
Curry Hammock State Park has 1,200 feet of beach. Although flat, it has a steeper slope than most beaches in the Keys, allowing you to get to deeper water faster. Curry Hammock has an excellent kayaking platform that allows paddlers to explore offshore islands or paddle in sheltered coves and shady mangrove trails.
The Kayak Trail is a beautiful 90 minute paddle through beautiful mangroves and over shallows where there are thousands of upside down jellyfish that look like large snowflakes in the water. A popular destination for kayakers is an offshore sandbar that emerges at low tide.
The constant breeze on the beach attracts kite lovers, especially on weekends, who adorn the beach with their colorful kites and daring acrobatics.
The day area has four large picnic pavilions, rest rooms and showers for bathers, and a playground. There is a 2.5 mile nature trail for hiking,
Park admission is $4.50 per vehicle (one person) or $5 per vehicle (plus 50 cents per person, 2 or more people). Pedestrians and cyclists: $2.50. Kayak rental is possible.
Curry Hammock State Parkis onMile marker 56, Adresse: 56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon
Associated witness:Curry Hammock State Park: Tolles Strandcamping, Kajakfahren
Sombrero Beach, Marathon
Sombrero Beach in Marathon is a "real" beach, and after being rebuilt after Hurricane Irma, it's better than ever. Sombrero tops the list of the best beaches in the Florida Keys. In fact, in 2023, Sombrero was the only beach in South Florida to make TripAdvisor's Best Beaches in the United States list. (It ranked 22nd in the US based on reader ratings.)
Sombrero Beach is an arc of white sand with many facilities: lawns shaded by palm trees, changing rooms, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbecue areas and a playground.
This is a good site for shore diving, especially in the few areas where the coast is fringed by rocks. Sometimes you have to deal with piles of algae. There is also a kayak launching area for boardingbeautiful kayak trail on Boot Key.
The beach, two miles from the overseas highway, is popular with locals as many visitors don't know it's there.
Hat-Strand: Turn southMile marker 50at the traffic light (between Kmart and Publix) and follow Sombrero Beach Road to the end for approximately two miles. There is ample parking, but it fills up on sunny weekends.
Associated witness:Things to Do in Marathon: The maritime heart of the Florida Keys
Coco Plum Beach
Here's one you probably didn't know existed.
VicinityMile marker 54Before you reach Key Colony Beach and Marathon, there is a traffic light on Coco Plum Drive. Head toward the ocean and follow Coco Plum Drive around the bend to the end where there is a gated public parking lot in the sand.
This beach is popular with kite surfers, but there is room for everyone. You can also use a kayak or paddle board to explore Deer Key, or paddle around Deer Key to the paddling trails at Curry Hammock State Park and beyond.
The fact that this beach is difficult to find and known only to locals means you are virtually guaranteed a peaceful beach experience. I like to put my chair in the shade of the overhanging branches and take a rest.
Like all ocean-side beaches in the Keys, Coco Plum Beach can experience a build-up of seaweed — which no one particularly likes, but allowing seaweed to build up and break down is good for the shoreline.
Free entrance to the beach or parking lot.
Anne's Beach, Islamorada
A longtime roadside favorite, Anne's Strand was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017 but has been rebuilt with a new promenade.
Anne is a beautiful sandy beach that is great for walking. The beach is flat in many ways— It is difficult to get water deep enough for swimming. Most people just sit in the shallow water and relax.
The coast is lined with mangrove groves, through which a new boardwalk with picnic tables stretches. Anne's Beach has two small car parks. It's free and worth a stop on your journey along the Overseas Highway.
Anne's Beach is located onMile marker 73.4in Islamorada.
Associated witness:Anne's Beach in Islamorada: Worth a stop when driving through the Keys
The best beaches in the Lower Keys
Veterans Memorial Park, Little Duck Key
Veterans Memorial Park is a small, free oceanfront park just south of the Seven Mile Bridge with a nice little beach and a great spot for a picnic or to use the restroom on the drive to Key West.
There are five picnic tables with grills under the chicken coops, there is a beach where you can wade or swim, and showers. Palm trees stand here as if waiting to be captured on a postcard. It's also an easy kayak launch. There is also a large car park and small boat ramp along the bay when it is full.
In the summer of 2021, the toilets have not been open since Hurricane Irma in 2017, there are portapottis instead.
Veterans Memorial ParkalreadyMile marker 39.9.
Associated witness:The Big Pine Key Nature Center will help you find out where to see Key deer
Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key
For years, there has been a broad consensus that the best beaches in the Florida Keys are the beaches in the Florida KeysBahia Honda State Parkfrom MM 36.8.
Hurricane Irma devastated the area, but after 4 1/2 years, the 2.5-mile long Sandspur Beach on the island's Atlantic side finally reopened in spring 2022.
With white sand and water so shallow you can wade a long way before you wet your bathing suit, says Dr. Beach, a professor who rates beaches and publishes a list of the top 10 each year, once called it the best beach in America. He called Sandspur Beach "a slice of the Caribbean" for its "crystal clear turquoise waters and white coral beach lined with coconut palms."
The smaller of the three beaches, Calusa Beach, is the most popular. Calusa Beach is the best beach for swimming and has all amenities, a nature center, picnic areas and a gift shop next to the marina. It is also the most photographed beach as the old and new bridges meet in the background.
Bahia Honda has natural beaches, not artificial ones.
Admission is $8.50 per vehicle (2-8 people). $2 for pedestrians, cyclists, and additional passengers; Vehicle or motorcycle for one passenger $4. On busy weekends, the parking lot near Calusa Beach fills up.
Bahia Honda State Parkis onMile marker 37, 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida 33043, (305) 872-2353
Associated witness:Florida Rambler riders for Bahia Honda State Park
The best beaches in Key West
places to stay|Places to eat|places to play
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park und Strand
This is the best beach in Key West, located where the waters of the Gulf of Mexico meet the Atlantic. The water is clear and the bottom is rocky, making it a good spot for snorkeling and observing tropical fish and live coral. Because of these rocks, it is advisable to bring water shoes. The state park offers shaded areas to relax and the historic fort is worth a visit.
Parking is hard to find in Key West, so it's good to know you CAN park here. At the beachKey-West-Kavaoffers reasonably priced sandwiches, snacks, cold drinks and beach essentials served on a deck overlooking the beach.
Admission: $6 per vehicle (2-8 people) plus 50 cents per person. $2 Pedestrians, cyclists and passengers in a vehicle with an annual single ticket holder. Vehicle or motorcycle for one passenger $4.50.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park und Strand,601 Howard England Way, Key West, Florida 33040
Associated witness:Florida Rambler's Guide zum Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Smathers Beach is a rare sandy beach in Key West, although sand must be imported.
The beach, the longest in Key West, is free. It is lined with palm trees and has restrooms, volleyball courts, and picnic areas. It is a shallow beach and the water is sometimes not clear.Water sports at sunsetoffers parasailing, windsurfing, paddle boards, kayaks and hobie cat rentals. Smather's has a reputation for being a spring break and party beach. At the same time, it is also a popular spot for beach weddings.
Smathers Strand,South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL33040
To find Smather's Beach, turn left onto South Roosevelt Boulevard as you enter Key West. admission free
Associated witness:Shop for authentic Florida Keys souvenirs in Key West
If you continue south along the Atlantic from Smather's, you will come toHiggs Strand,Located south of White Street Fisherman's Wharf and adjacent to the Waldorf Astoria's Casa Marina Resort. This urban beach offers shade in a palm grove and a few picnic tables, as well as a dog park and free parking.
The adjacent pier for free fishing is worth a visit. The large concrete structure offers a spectacular walk across the Atlantic and surrounds you with many shades of blue. (Some call it the unfinished road to Havana.)
Higgs Beach is also the location of onea memorial marking the putative burial site of Africans rescued from the slave tradebrought to the island by the US Navy. During the Civil War, Key West remained under Union control and was a haven for victims of the slave trade.
There's another free attraction along the beach that's great to explore: the West Martello Tower, the remains of a Civil War-era fort that is now home to a botanical garden created by the Key West Garden Club. Some parts of the garden overlook the sea and the crumbling ruins with their tropical plants are particularly picturesque.
The downside of Higgs Beach? One part of the park — its concrete picnic tables and shelters — is often occupied by homeless people.
Higgs Beach,1000 Atlantic Blvd., Key West, FL 33040
Associated witness:Higgs Beach: The African Monument speaks to the cultural heart of Key West
Simonton Street Beach
This little pocket beach on the west end of Simonton Street is in the middle of a very busy tourist area near Mallory Square, but you'd hardly even notice it's there unless you happened upon it by taking a wrong turn.
Located between the Pier House and Hyatt Key West, the beach is a popular destination for locals and hotel guests and is often crowded.
There is a small car park and a fantastic little bar on the beach called thewarehouse manager, which serves craft beers and seafood delicacies like fish tacos, fish sandwiches, smoked fish dip, and fresh ceviche, as well as hot dogs and burgers. They also serve breakfast.
This beach is an alternative to Mallory Square for sunsets. Entry to the beach is free.
Plaza Simonton Street, 0 Simonton Street, Key West, FL 33040
Associated witness:On a budget? Exploring Key West on the cheap isn't easy, but here's a tip
No other Florida city would mention this beach, but this is Key West, where beaches are few.
Located where Duval Street meets the Atlantic, this small sandy beach attracts many visitors as it is close to the southernmost point that attracts selfie lovers from all over the world.
It's a well-maintained 200-foot beach, but there's very little parking nearby. So come on foot or by bike.
It overlooks this beachThe southernmost cafe on the beach, which offers a pleasant dinner by the sea. It's popular for happy hour and has good reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Associated witness:Conch Republic Dictionary: Talk like a local when visiting Key West
Swimming spots in the Florida Keys
Just want to take a dip in the clear waters of the Florida Keys?
Then the two new swimming pools opening at Monroe County Parks are for you.
What's even better? Both are free, located just off the Overseas Highway, and equipped with picnic tables and restrooms.
It's parksRowells Waterfront Park, 04550 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037, dPark prirode Pine Channel, 9550 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043.
Here's a Florida Rambler story with all the details on these two newbiesBeaches in the Florida Keys.
Plan your trip to the Florida Keys
- A basic guide to Florida Keys markers: Press!
- Florida Rambler's channel is dedicated to the Florida Keys
- 11 Great Kayak Trips in the Keys
- Legendary road food on the overseas highway
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Bob Rountree und Bonnie Gross
Bonnie and Bob, veteran journalists who worked together at the SunSentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, founded FloridaRambler.com in 2010 to explore natural, authentic Florida and share their natural interests in hiking, biking, paddling, camping and tent camping, wilderness and unique Write about accommodation, restaurants and historical places.