Exploring the Beaches of Key West, Florida

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When I initially looking into the beaches of Key West, I kept hearing that they are not the best in the Florida Keys. Many articles and locals mention that Key Largo is the best for clear water, snorkeling, and scuba diving. While Key West is the best option for nightlife and  having a big city to explore, the beaches were indeed nice, but not the best as I had heard.

The beaches in Key West are all open to the public and swimming is at your own risk. There may or may not be lifeguards at times.

What I saw along almost all the beaches was that the water is much choppier and murkier. This may have to do with the currents and oceans colliding at the end of Key West.

banana bayIn my opinion, the private beaches at resorts appear to be calmer with more “snorkeling friendly” beaches. I stayed at the Banana Bay Resort & Marina, which was about a 6 minute ride from Duval Street. The snorkeling there was by far the best compared to anything else I saw in Key West.

One thing for sure – these waters are perfect for jet-skiing and boating! Depending on the wind, surfing would even be better in these waters than snorkeling.

Even if you can’t go snorkeling, there are many activities at the beaches of Key West:

South Beach

south beach

This is a local and tourists’ favorite. You can walk, drive, or ride your bike to the end of Duval Street to the Atlantic Ocean side. There are piers and the beach is quite sandy.

Higg’s Beach


Higg’s Beach is bigger in size and offers more sports.  You can rent kayaks and rafts right off the beach. If you prefer to relax, sit at the beachfront restaurant where you can people-watch and sip on cocktails.

Smathers Beach


Smather’s Beach is man-made, but it was my favorite out of them all. There are palm trees that line the beach. Don’t be surprised if you witness a morning wedding – it’s a great spot to have one!

Fort Zachary Taylor

Easter Picnic 2010

Image via Photodropper

This beach is voted best for its sunset views as it faces the west. This is the one beach in Key West that charges admission – $1.50 for walk-ins and $2.50 for vehicles. The prices are not posted anywhere on a website and are subject to change. You an rent picnic tables, kiosks, and hold bbq’s. I did not personally get a chance to go to this beach, but hope to check it out next time.

Which Key West beach is your favorite?