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    The best beaches in Key West to enjoy sun, sea and relaxation

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    Joel Fulleda

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    We are Key West, the most populous and well-known city of the archipelago of the Florida Keys (or more simply Keys) which extends southwards for 160 kilometers from the continental tip of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. This strip of tiny white-sand coral islands begins to develop 24 kilometers southwest of Miami.

    It must be said immediately: although they are very famous for the context in which they are found, the Key West beaches they are not the best in the Florida Keys. Those towns are narrow, small and quite crowded; moreover, the water, however hot, is not always crystalline. In fact, it is often clouded by algae and sand, which can cause some discomfort.

    Of course, the sand is fine and white, and the presence of palm trees swaying in the wind blowing from the ocean creates a pleasant tropical atmosphere, to be experienced by strolling at sunset with a refreshing drink in hand and taking souvenir photos and selfies; however, the seaside experience of Key West, in absolute terms, could disappoint the expectations of those who expect an incredible tropical paradise without defects. In our opinion, the best beaches around Key West remain those at Bahia Honda State Park.


    • The beaches of Key West
      • South Beach
      • Higgs Beach
      • Rest Beach
      • Smathers Beach
      • Dog beach
      • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park Beach
      • Dry Tortugas National Park
    • Events on the beaches
    • Where to eat on the coast
    • Key West beachfront hotel

    The beaches of Key West

    In addition to the pleasantness of the tree-lined streets with delightful historic Victorian homes and B & Bs, the homes of Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and President Truman, the aquarium, lighthouse and tropical gardens, Key West still has some pleasant beaches to visit: we are here to tell you about it. Here is a map to get an overall idea of ​​where they are in relation to the city center.

    South Beach

    Accessible from 7am to 23pm, South Beach (1405 Duval St.) is a popular narrow public beach located at the south end of the main road and stretches east. Beyond the bathing experience that can be done there, this beach is a symbolic place because it is located in the area of ​​the boa del Southernmost Point, the southernmost point in the United States.

    Unsurprisingly, for this reason, everyone wants to take pictures, take selfies and of course we did too. Here you can still relax on the sandy coast, enjoy the breeze, the swaying palm trees and swim in the warm and shallow waters of the coral bottom, but you should know that you will always be in good company! Crowding aside, romance is guaranteed at sunrise and sunset, two very suggestive moments. There is parking on the street. A local history note: writer Tennessee Williams owned a home here and swam in this shoreline.

    Higgs Beach

    At 1000 Atlantic Boulevard, at the west base of Edward B. Knight Pier, we point out Higgs Beach: with shallow waters, this is a small sandy beach with tropical vegetation behind it that gives it some coolness and shade. These crystal clear waters are signposted for snorkeling (near the pier). You can relax in the sun (well protected), explore the marine life (sometimes the stingrays meet), play tennis, play volleyball and for the little ones a play area has been set up. Near the beach there is the interesting garden of the West Martello Tower (free admission), a restaurant (it's called Health!, the management is the same as the famous Blue Heaven) and free parking.

    Rest Beach

    Adjacent to Higgs Beach, east of the pier, we find Rest Beach (White St. & Atlantic Blvd., accessible from 6am to 23pm). It looks like a small park with a soft sand beach on which coral fragments are deposited and reach the shore. On the coast surrounded by vegetation there are picnic tables; from the pier, also called White Street Pier, you can fish and be spectators at splendid sunrises and sunsets.

    This is a very popular place for those who want to relax early in the morning, perhaps strolling along the seafront; yoga classes are held there in the evening. It is a perfect place to be outside with your dog. Free parking is across the street. Here is the Key West AIDS Memorial.

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    Smathers Beach


    In the southern part of Key West, outside the center and not far from the airport, is the largest beach in the city: Smathers Beach (2601 S. Roosevelt Blvd.). Long but not deep, Smathers Beach offers a beautiful sandy beach shaded by palm trees. In addition to free parking, there are volleyball nets, picnic tables and, for those who love to exercise, there are cycle paths. If you plan to spend a few hours here, it is advisable to bring water and food as there are no refreshment points in the immediate vicinity. On the other hand, you can rent beach beds and boats to practice water sports; moreover, for those who love sunsets this is one of the most beautiful locations from which to admire them. The coast is accessible from 7am to 23pm.

    Dog beach

    Are you traveling with a four-legged friend? You can take it with you to the Dog beach (1500 Vernon Ave.) a small beach with soft, light sand, trees and bushes where dogs can play, run and swim on the only shoreline dedicated to them here in Key West. Palm trees provide pleasant shade for owners too!

    Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park Beach

    The beach that we point out to the west of the island is a splendid natural area that also has reasons of historical interest. In fact, as can be guessed from the name, the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park Beach (601 Howard England Way) is home to a fort that played an important role in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. It can be visited every day through guided tours or freely. In the park you can cross, on foot or by bicycle, the short paths that develop in the green.

    Not far away, the south end of the park ends with a very beautiful beach that is still little known by tourists: the beach is partly rocky, while in the clear waters of the sea overlooking Cuba it is possible to swim, snorkel and fish. For some city dwellers, this is the best beach in Key West, and not just for the beautiful sunset it offers.

    Behind it there is a pleasant shaded area with a covered area for picnics. The $ 6 admission for cars also includes a parking permit. Entry on foot costs $ 2,5. At thel Key West Cafe, overlooking the waterfront, you will find snacks, ice creams, cold drinks and souvenirs.

    If after the beach you feel like doing some Shopping no problem, there is no need to move from the heart of the island. To make purchases that remind us of Key West once back home, just walk along Duval Street, in his crossing and Mallory Square.

    Dry Tortugas National Park

    A day trip that can only be done by air or by boats (The Yankee Freedom III - 100 Grinnell St.) and seaplanes (Key West Seaplane Adventures-Key West Airport) is at Dry Tortugas National Park, 110 kilometers west of Key West. The island is almost entirely occupied by the Fort Jefferson, built in the 800th century at the behest of the US navy commodore David Porter who was looking for the ideal place to drive out pirates from the Caribbean.

    History aside, here there is no shortage of suggestive blue waters, coral reefs, marine life and the conspicuous presence of birds that make you fall in love with this oasis of peace, a UNESCO heritage site. Snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving are practiced. The park can be visited with guided tours or independently.

    Events on the beaches

    In addition to Sunset Celebration (every day at sunset on Mallory Square), the waterfront comes alive when they take place Events near the beaches.

    • From January to August the Key West Fishing Tournment, which consists of sport fishing competitions divided by categories (men, women and children).
    • In June it takes place the Swim Around Key West, a race of about 20 kilometers around the island during which swimmers are accompanied by kayakers. Colors and atmosphere make it spectacular.
    • One of the Independence Day events is the 4th of July Fireworks, which takes place at White Street Pier, a fireworks display that kicks off shortly after sunset. Many people watch the show on board a boat.
    • La Annual Key West World Championship is a speed race that takes place in November in the offshore waters. Spectators gather at the harbor to see the boats in action as they whiz by at over 160km / h.

    Where to eat on the coast

    Although there are many clubs and restaurants to try in the city - starting with Sloppy Joe's (201 Duval St.), famous for its small restaurant drinks and Ernest Hemingway as a loyal customer - others restaurants on the beach they are ideal for savoring good food and at the same time enjoying a dream panorama.

    As anticipated, at Higgs Beach it is located Health! on the Beach (Atlantic Blvd.) a restaurant open for lunch and dinner with an adjoining bar. The excellent cuisine and atmosphere on the premises make this lovely beach cafe worth a stop. The dishes are inspired by Italian and Caribbean recipes: spaghetti with tomato sauce and meatballs, homemade lasagna, roast chicken breast with Brussels sprouts, steamed mussels and the typical cake of the area, the Key Lime Pie.

    On the private island Sunset Key, that everyone notices and envies from Mallory Square, at the luxurious cottage of the same name, is located latitudes (245 Front St.) which in 2016 was judged the best restaurant in Key West by Open Table and in 2017 it was among the XNUMX most romantic places in the USA. Here you can enjoy an excellent view of the Gulf of Mexico with the suggestion created by the torches that light up the night. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; in the morning try the pancakes with maple syrup, cream and blueberries. Some renowned house dishes are shrimp pasta, beef carpaccio, shrimp rolls and fish tacos. More formal dress is required in the evening and reservations are recommended.

    At the Decan Key Resort & Spa we point out theHot Tin Roof (0 Duval St.) a casual-chic island-style restaurant located on the waterfront overlooking the harbor. Dishes on the Florida and Caribbean-inspired menu are enjoyed for breakfast, brunch and dinner. We mention cinnamon waffles with pecans, pancakes with blueberries, omelettes, noodles with shrimp, spicy tacos with tuna, crab patty and grilled fillet of beef. The name of the place is a tribute to the work "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams which, as mentioned, frequented Key West.

    Directly on South Beach, we point out Southernmost Beach Cafè (1405 Duval St.) where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served overlooking the ocean. In the morning, pancakes with fruit, chocolate drops and maple syrup are excellent. Try the creative cocktails and local dishes with fresh fish. Other delicacies are fish'n chips, tacos, filet mignon, fish pappardelle and fried rice with shrimp.

    Key West beachfront hotel

    Hyatt Centric Key

    To better appreciate the charm and atmosphere of the beaches of Key West it would be perfect to stay overnight in structures on the coast. In this regard we point out a few hotels particularly interesting.

    • Coconut Beach Resort (1500 Alberta St.) is in a quiet, oceanfront area. Rooms and suites (with full kitchens) have microwaves and small refrigerators; some have a private balcony and others a spectacular panoramic view. The hotel offers an ocean view spa, swimming pool, jacuzzi and a small, very private sandy beach.
    • Sea & Dewey House (506 South St.) features rooms with romantic ocean views, private balconies or porches, wi-fi, mini refrigerators, and coffeemakers. There are also three swimming pools, a fitness center, a spa and two beaches.
    • Il Galleon Resort and Marina (617 Front St.) is a central accommodation facility overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, near the historic marina. In a tropical atmosphere the resort features spacious and bright accommodation. The hotel has a marina available for guest boats, a private beach, a bar overlooking the harbor, a large swimming pool facing the waterfront and a sauna.
    • Also on Front Street, at number 601, we find it Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa with contemporary style rooms. The hotel has a spa, outdoor pool, restaurants, free wi-fi and waterfront views from the rooms.

    If you want to have a more detailed idea of ​​the hotel offer of the city, I refer you to our article entirely dedicated to where to sleep in Key West. 

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

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    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
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