The Florida Keys may be small, but when it comes to their beaches, they are mighty. With many beaches here opening up into the Atlantic Ocean, there is an endless supply of crystal blue ocean, soft sand and views stretching into the horizon. Visiting more than one area is the best way to make the most of a trip to the Florida Keys, but even if you only have a few days, you’ll find a beach that meets your expectations.
Whether you want to experience an adrenalin rush by parasailing and windsurfing, explore the local wildlife through snorkelling and diving, or simply relax and sunbathe on some soft white sand, all of this and more is on offer in the Florida Keys. So pack your swimsuit and your sunhat and get ready for some of the best beaches in the USA.
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Florida Keys Beaches
20 Best Beaches In Florida Keys
1- Harry Harris Park, Key Largo
A fabulous beach for a family day out, Harry Harris Park in Key Largo has various activities to enjoy, including excellent fishing and snorkelling.
Entry to the park is free except on weekends when it only costs $5 for non-residents and has lots of tidal pools that are great for kids.
You’ll have everything you need to enjoy a full, fun day trip, such as picnic areas and bike trails.
If you need a break from the soft sandy beach, bring your lunch and drinks as the area has no cafes or shops.
2- Cannon Beach, Key Largo
Natural grassy sand beaches await you at Cannon Beach, famous for its coral reefs.
Its variety of marine life means activities that will allow you to admire a world of wonders beneath the waves, whether you want to stroll along the boardwalk, go kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving or on a glass-bottomed boat trip.
Aside from Cannon Beach, there are two other beaches for you to experience; both have been maintained in their natural state.
You won’t find soft white sand but swaying grass and a few rocky sections, but this makes them even more beautiful.
3- Far Beach, Key Largo
Easily Key Largo’s most popular beach, also situated in John Pennekamp State Park, Far Beach has soft warm sand and swaying palm trees – the picture of paradise.
The water along the beach is warm, shallow and perfect for paddling or swimming with kids.
The state park is a self-proclaimed dive capital of the world, and you’ll find options aplenty for diving and snorkelling tours around the stunning reefs just offshore.
If you are thinking of staying a little longer, camping is available so that you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves.
4- Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West
Famous for its diverse marine life and the historic 19th-century Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas is more remote than some of the more popular beaches, but the journey is worthwhile.
Lying in the west of Key West, it is comprised of seven tiny islands, all of which can be hopped around by boat.
Wildlife here is abundant and beautiful, and you can enjoy snorkelling, diving or bird watching.
Since they’re quite far away and there are multiple islands, you’re likely to only see a few other people on your trip and can enjoy the national park mostly to yourself.
5- Rest Beach, Key West
C.B. Harvey Memorial Rest Beach is one of the area’s smaller beaches with few attractions or concessions.
However, this means not many people visit, so you will have the golden sand and uninterrupted sea views all to yourself.
The beach is named after a former Key West mayor and is adjacent to well-known Higgs beach (also featured on this list).
At only 984 ft (300m), although not one of the more lively or well-known Florida beaches, you can still take part in snorkelling trips, dolphin spotting boat rides and sunset cruises, and many other exhilarating water sports.
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6- Simonton Street, Key West
Almost destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the area and beach here at Simonton Street have been restored to their former glory and are popular with locals and visitors.
Although it’s quite small, given the size of the island, this beach still packs a punch in terms of activities on offer and places to eat and drink.
There’s plenty of space on the powdery sand to plant your towel, but you can also rent deck chairs and umbrellas if you’re planning to stay awhile.
Offshore, tropical fish and manatees can often be seen when snorkelling and there is a sand spit not too far out, while onshore, you can grab a drink in one of the many beach bars or head to the main road for a bite to eat.
7- Smathers Beach, Key West
One of Key West’s most spectacular beaches, Smathers beach is a 1.8-mile (3km) stretch of perfect white sand and sparkling blue waves.
You’ll find plenty of water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding and kitesurfing, as well as sailing for those keen.
There are also plenty of beachside cafes and restaurants serving fresh seafood where you can sip on a drink while watching the sunset.
The only downside (or upside if you’re a fan of planes!) is its proximity to the airport, meaning it’s easy to get to but can be fairly noisy.
8- Higgs Beach, Key West
Close to Smathers, Higgs Beach is slightly more tranquil and undisturbed, which is a good option if you need some peace and quiet.
Parking here is free, which gives it an advantage compared to other beaches, and you can enjoy all the usual activities such as diving and snorkelling off the pier, where you’re sure to spot tropical fish.
The pier itself is known as ‘the road to Cuba’ due to its massive length, and walking along here makes for a lovely break from the beach should you need one.
Some exciting tours are on offer, such as jet-ski tours, dolphin watching and parasailing – if you’re in need of an adrenaline rush.
9- Zachary Taylor State Park Beach, Key West
This state park, home to Fort Zachary Taylor, is a great way to combine a bit of history with relaxation and a beautiful beach.
The area is well-known for spotting tropical marine life such as parrotfish, lobster, yellowtail snapper and vast amounts of colourful coral.
Fishing is also permitted if you’d rather catch your dinner, although you can find great fresh food at Cayo Hueso Café.
Start the day with a bike ride and historic tour of the Fort or take in one of the many nature trails to spot some wildlife before spending the afternoon recovering and relaxing on the beach while watching what some call the best sunset in Key West.
10- Veteran’s Memorial Park, Little Duck Key
A little-visited but beautiful beach, Veteran’s Memorial Park Beach is a grass-covered beach with clear blue waters, making it the ideal place to stop for a few hours or take a picnic.
It is not a touristy beach, so there is not too much in the way of shops or restaurants.
It’s simply a long stretch of free to access coastline, so nothing is stopping you from bringing a snorkel, towel and snacks and enjoying it for as long as you like.
You’ll often spot locals fishing off the now little-used Seven Mile Bridge as the waters here are filled with lots of unusual and rare fish.
11- South Beach, Key West
South Beach is one of the smallest public beaches in Key West but is still a great place to hang out for half a day.
Located at the end of Duval Street, it is only 650 ft (200m) long.
It is backed by the Southernmost café, which serves fantastic snacks, drinks and breakfast, which is helpful because, unfortunately, coolers aren’t allowed on this beach, and there are no public bathrooms.
Nevertheless, you can easily rent a couple of deck chairs and spend a few hours here. The shallow water stretches out far into the ocean meaning it’s safe for kids to paddle by themselves. For the adults, Duval Street is well known for its clubs and late-night parties which go on until sunrise.
12- Long Key State Park, Long Key
Originally popular with saltwater anglers when it was home to a fishing camp, Long Key State Park has reopened as a beautiful and tranquil spot ideal for bird spotting, water sports, and enjoying the area’s natural scenery.
Aside from snorkelling, fishing and bird watching, kayaking is also a popular activity along the shoreline, where you can spot marine life in the water and mangroves.
Should you need something land-based, there are two hiking trails where you can see a variety of local plants and wildlife.
If you want to stay the night, a great way to support the rebuilding efforts is by camping in one of the tent-only campsites.
13- Coco Plum Beach, Marathon, Vaca Key
Coco Plum is another natural sand beach located right on the Atlantic, with endless sea views.
The beach is next to a protected wetlands area which is also a turtle breeding ground for Leatherbacks, Loggerheads and Atlantic Greens, so you might spot some turtles swimming just offshore.
But this can also mean the area is closed at certain times of the year.
The beach is vast, meaning you’ll easily find a quiet spot to yourself without any crowds, and it is also pet-friendly, so you’ll often see locals walking their dogs.
14- Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Vaca Key
Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum are virtually interchangeable – both located in the Marathon area, with long white stretches of sand that house endangered turtle breeding grounds.
The season is April to November when the city limits human proximity to the nesting activity, where the turtles hatch at night and crawl to the sea, but you might be able to spot it if you’re lucky.
The turtles take up a tiny portion of the beach, and aside from this, you’ll find volleyball courts, water sports, and picnic areas to make the most of your time here.
15- Calusa Beach, Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key
Located on the Florida Bay side of Bahia Honda State Park, you’ll be greeted by palm trees and a view of the old Bahia Honda Bridge and the Overseas Highway.
The old bridge is a must-visit place for a walk to get a sweeping view of the bay.
The sand here is impossibly white and the sea is relatively shallow, although deep enough for the activities Calusa is reserved for, which are swimming and snorkelling only.
So if you’re looking for diving or water sports, this isn’t the beach for you, but you will find a quiet little area to enjoy a few hours in the ocean and have a picnic or drink on the sand.
16- Curry Hammock State Park, Big Pine Key
Sitting between Key Largo and Big Pine Key, Curry Hammock State Park is the biggest area of undeveloped land in the Keys.
The reason for this is to protect the vast number of native and migrating species of wildlife who make their home here.
This, along with the 1200m sandy beach, draws people from miles around.
Swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and SUP are all on the agenda.
On top of this, wildlife viewing is encouraged, and you can spot manatees, dolphins, sharks and stingrays from the beach.
For an exciting excursion, go hiking in the nearby hardwood forest, where you can see ancient fossilised coral.
17- Loggerhead Beach, Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key
Also known as Oceanside Beach, Loggerhead beach is a spectacular Bahia Honda beach that is popular for snorkelling.
The beach has a little offshore ‘island’, which is a collection of large rocks with trees, that you kayak or take a boat to before snorkelling around the area in search of tropical marine life.
There is also a sandspit that appears at low tide and is a lovely place to wade out to watch the stunning sunsets.
With three nearby hiking trails and a range of flora and fauna in the area, it can get super busy, and the car park fills up quickly, so get here early to make the most of it.
18- Anne’s Beach, Lower Matecumbe Key
Named after well-known environmentalist Anne Eaton, Anne’s Beach in Islamorada is another that was sadly devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2019.
Unlike many other beaches in the Florida Keys, which have imported sand, Anne’s Beach is an entirely natural sand beach that is free to visitors.
You’ll arrive at a cute wooden boardwalk winding through the mangroves before opening to the soft white sands and lovely ocean views.
It is not as suitable for swimming as many other beaches since the water here remains shallow way out to sea. Some people enjoy sitting in the ankle-high water.
Its exposure to the open ocean makes it popular with windsurfers, which you can spot while enjoying a picnic in one of the beachfront pavilions.
19- Library Beach, Islamorada
A beach that many people never discover, Library beach is right behind the Islamorada Public Library.
It features a stunning little grass and sand beach with a family park, and while it doesn’t sit on the open ocean, you can swim in the winding channel of river that runs towards the mangroves.
Although it doesn’t have the view or range of activities of other beaches, it’s a perfect pitstop for an hour or two to occupy kids or sit with your feet in the water with a good book from the library.
20- Founder’s Park Beach, Islamorada
Arriving at Founder’s Park, you’ll find a quiet, palm tree-lined public beach ideal for a family day out.
Paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkelling are all available, and there are areas for barbecuing and locally run yoga classes on the sand.
Founder’s Park is a 40-acre (16 ha) area filled with a wealth of activities, so you don’t need to stay on the beach all day.
You can enjoy an Olympic sized swimming pool, fishing and diving tours, fitness classes, biking trails and volleyball.
There is a concert area where you can catch live music and performances at certain times of year too, so you’ll never be short on things to do at this Florida Keys beach.