Key West Beaches 101: A Guide to the Best Beaches in Key West
Key West is not known for its beaches, but there are a handful of options that fit the bill. Strong tides and heavy winds often keep the water from being all that favorable. However, local businesses have set up appropriately so that vacationers can still enjoy a day on the sand.
Key West Dog Beach
Address: 100 Atlantic Blvd, Key West, FL 33040
A small lot on the water may not be considered a true beach by some vacationers, but all furry friends will beg to differ. Perhaps the most pet friendly beach location in Key West, Dog Beach is a small shore where canines are given free access to the water. This is not the site for the family to go relax, but rather a walk destination for the dog to enjoy the sun and sea freely.
*Limited acreage and potential hazards mean the dogs should be accompanied at all times.
Fort Zachary Taylor
601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is perhaps the best all-around beach option in the Keys. The 87 acre state park is the home for pre-Civil War Fort Zachary Taylor. For those available in the historic site, tours are available daily. Beyond the stone walls is a sizable beach that caters to all ages. Families can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs as well as equipment for the water. Access to the sets it apart as many advise against swimming at other locations. In addition, it is one of the only beaches to offer both cafés and public restrooms.
Higg’s is often considered a second option to the more popular Smathers and Fort Zachary Taylor. The benefit of this is that it is often less crowded and vacationers do not have to arrive quite as early to find their spot. It breaks from the traditional beach experience as swimming is not always an option and the sand is not native to Key West (imported from the Caribbean). Nearby services do provide a range of options for entertainment beyond swimming with rental equipment, tours, and charters.
This is one of the preferred options for dog owners who feel that Dog Beach does not offer the appropriate size. Rest’s limited size keeps from having too many visitors, but is large enough laterally for pets to enjoy. Additionally, the White Pier sits alongside with a breathtaking view of southern Key West. There’s a reason it lacks the traffic of the other beaches, but certainly has its merits.
Smathers is arguably the top beach option in Key West with no admission, remarkable views, and plenty of sand. Like many other places, the tides keep Smathers from being an ideal swimming location. Outside of the water there is still plenty to do with Jet Ski rentals, volleyball courts and general leisure areas. The greatest feature comes free of charge at the end of the night though with one of the best sunset views in the Keys.
South Beach provides a welcome retreat to the often chaotic nature of Key West. It is not equipped to be a day-long, but is a perfect location for an hour two of relaxation. A nice location for a walk, South Beach appeals to the right visitor.