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A Guide to the Best Florida Keys Beaches

Welcome to your quintessential guide to the best Keys beaches, where the sun kisses the horizon and the waters invite you to dive into an endless blue paradise. Whether you are seeking a serene retreat or an adventure-soaked getaway, the Keys offer a beach for every type of traveler.

Begin your journey at a Key Largo beach before venturing down. Bahia Honda is renowned for its iconic Old Bahia Honda Bridge and postcard-worthy vistas. This beach boasts some of the clearest waters in the Keys, making it a top choice for snorkeling and swimming.

It’s also home to stunning Calusa beach. As you continue your adventure, don’t miss the charms of Anne’s Beach, Big Pine Key, Key Colony Beach, and Sombrero Beach in Marathon, public beaches with an abundance of sea life making them a haven for families and sea turtles alike, where the gentle shores and shaded picnic areas promise a perfect day under the sun.

Further along, discover the hidden gem of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West. Here, history and beauty merge beneath a canopy of Australian pines, offering not only a unique white sand beach experience but also a glimpse into Florida’s rich past. And for those who revel in the simpler pleasures, the tranquil sands of Higgs Beach provide a peaceful escape with stunning views of the Atlantic.

Each of these beaches tells its own tale of natural splendor and invites you to create memories that will last a lifetime. Join us as we explore the sun-soaked shores of the Florida Keys and Key West, where each grain of sand whispers the secrets of the sea.

Our favourite Key West and Key Largo beaches:

Bahia Honda State Park

A true gem located in the Florida Keys, specifically on Bahia Honda Key near Big Pine Key. Known for its stunning beauty and shallow waters, this state park offers one of the region’s most spectacular sandy beaches, often listed among the best in the United States. The park features a picnic area, clear, turquoise waters and an abundance of marine and bird life, making it a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The park is not only famous for its picturesque beaches but also for the historic Old Bahia Honda Bridge. This bridge provides an iconic backdrop and serves as a vantage point for breathtaking views of the surrounding keys and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bahia Honda is also a hub for a variety of beach games. The park boasts volleyball nets and tennis courts. Visitors can also enjoy snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters and kayaking along the gentle shore.

For those interested in exploring the natural environment, Bahia Honda State Park offers several walking trails that meander through the island’s unique flora and fauna. The Silver Palm Trail leads to a viewing platform at the end of the old bridge, providing panoramic views of the park and its surroundings.

Sombrero Beach: Marathon

This public beach sits just off Sombrero beach road and is renowned for its breathtaking stretches of white sand, which create a stark and beautiful contrast against the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic.

As one of the most family-friendly public beaches in the area, Sombrero Beach offers an array of amenities that make it an ideal spot for a day under the sun.

The public beach is equipped with ample picnic tables scattered throughout the area, inviting families and groups to enjoy leisurely meals with the soothing sounds of the ocean as their backdrop.

These facilities, combined with well-maintained volleyball courts and shady areas provided by native trees, enhance the beach’s allure, making it a perfect getaway for both relaxation and recreation.

Whether you’re looking to unwind with a book on the soft sand, enjoy a picnic with friends, or simply soak up the scenic beauty, Sombrero Beach in Marathon is a destination that captures the serene spirit of the Keys while offering every convenience for a memorable beach day.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State ParkLocation: Key West, Mile Marker 0

Located in Key West at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, this is a remarkable site that combines historical significance with natural allure. Known to locals and visitors alike simply as “Fort Taylor,” this park is more than just a historic fort; it is also a celebrated beach destination and an ecological treasure.

The park features a unique blend of coastal environments, including a notable area of mangroves that play a critical role in the local ecosystem and add a layer of natural intrigue to the park.

Fort Zachary Taylor itself stands as a sentinel at Key West’s strategic point, offering a glimpse into the area’s military history, dating back to the mid-19th century. Visitors to the park can explore the fort through guided tours that illuminate its past, including its role during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

Higgs Beach: Key West

This beach is particularly renowned for its soft, white sand that stretches along the clear, inviting waters of the Atlantic Ocean, providing a serene setting for beachgoers.

The beach is fringed with lush, tropical vegetation and palm trees adding a vibrant splash of green to the sun-soaked landscape.

It’s not only beautiful but also culturally significant, housing the African Cemetery at Higgs Beach, where Africans who perished after being rescued from slave ships in the mid-1800s are memorialized.

Higgs Beach is well-equipped for a comfortable and enjoyable visit featuring picnic tables, volleyball courts, and even a dog park. The presence of a pier and a nearby restaurant enhances the beach experience.

Cannon Beach: Key Largo

Cannon Beach is perhaps the most distinctive Florida Keys beach, particularly famous for its historical artifacts and shallow waters. Located within John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park, Cannon Beach is named for the 17th-century cannons that rest on its shoreline, offering a glimpse into the maritime history that characterizes much of the Key Largo.

This beach is a fantastic spot for beginners in snorkeling. The underwater attractions also include an artificial reef, created by the deliberate sinking of an old Spanish shipwreck, which lies very close to the shore.

This sandy beach itself is relatively small, providing a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Picnic tables and barbecue grills are available, making it perfect for a leisurely day under the sun. The park also offers facilities such as showers and restrooms, enhancing the comfort of all visitors.

This Key Largo beach provides a unique blend of beauty and historical intrigue. Hear the famous largo sound here. Be sure to also visit Harry Harris Park and Far Beach when in Key Largo.

Calusa Beach

Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach, both located in Bahia Honda State Park are our favourite Florida Keys beaches. Calusa Beach, situated on the Gulf side of Bahia Honda Key, is celebrated for its picturesque views of the old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge, creating a perfect backdrop for both relaxation and photography. The calm waters and easy accessibility make Calusa Beach ideal for families and casual swimmers.

Best of the Rest

No matter the length of your stay in the Florida Keys, exploring the stunning beaches, and cruising across the scenic bridges to get there are essential experiences. Check out our ‘best of the rest’ Florida Keys best beaches.

– Smathers Beach, Key West

– Far Beach, Key Largo

– Florida Bay

– Founders Park Beach, Islamorada

– South Beach, Key West

– Dry Tortugas National Park & Seven Islands

– Curry Hammock State Park, Middle Keys

– Anne’s Beach, Islamorada

– Curry Hammock State Park Beach, Mile Marker 56.2

– Veterans Memorial Park, Big Pine Key

– Long Key State Park, Mile Marker 67.5

– Rock Reef Resort, Key Largo

– Harry Harris Beach and Park, Key Largo

– Sunset Park Beach, Key Largo

10 Best Things to Do in Key West

1. Explore the Best Beaches

From the popular Smathers Beach to the more secluded spots, Key West is home to some of the finest beaches in the Keys. Whether you’re up for sunbathing or building sandcastles, these beaches offer pure bliss.

2. Discover Hidden Beaches

Venture off the beaten path to find Key West’s hidden beaches. These less-traveled spots offer tranquility and a perfect escape from the more crowded main beaches.

3. Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Experience the underwater world without getting wet. A glass bottom boat tour lets you gaze at the vibrant coral reef and marine life in comfort.

4. Dive at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Key West is a diver’s paradise providing a spectacular backdrop for scuba diving adventures.

5. Walk on the Iconic bridges

Take a leisurely stroll or drive across the many bridges, an engineering marvel that offers panoramic views of the open ocean.

6. Relax at Fort Zachary Taylor Beach

Known as one of the best Keys beaches, it’s ideal for a day of relaxation, snorkeling, and picnicking by the historic fort.

7. Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square

Join the festive atmosphere as street performers and musicians gather for the nightly sunset celebration, a beloved Key West tradition.

8. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Step into the world of the famed writer Ernest Hemingway by touring his home, gardens, and the famous six-toed cats.

9. Kayak Through Mangroves

Make your way through the serene mangrove forests in a kayak to explore the wildlife of Key West’s quieter side.

10. Tour the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

A magical experience for all ages, this conservatory houses hundreds of different species of butterflies.


Where Are the Florida Keys Beaches Located?

Part of the continental United States, they’re an archipelago located at the southernmost part of Florida and are connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, including the famous Seven Mile Bridge.

The Florida Keys extend from the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles south of Miami, and stretch out into the Gulf side of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

What are they known for?

The Florida Keys are renowned for their picturesque scenery, characterized by beautiful beaches with fine white sand and swaying palm trees. These iconic tropical landscapes are complemented by serene mangrove islands that provide vital habitats for diverse marine life.

This stunning archipelago offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and a laid-back atmosphere, making it a favored destination for a relaxing day, even if they can be a bit crowded.

Do you have to pay an entrance fee?

Entrance fees at certain beaches and parks, such as Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Bahia Honda State Park near Key Largo, and the Dry Tortugas National Park are common.

These fees – which help maintain each Florida keys beach – enhance the parks’ facilities and natural habitats, provide access to a range of amenities including historical sites, beaches, and recreational activities like scuba diving and jet skiing.

Check the parks’ websites or contact them directly for the latest information on fees and offerings.

What happens at Mile Marker 0?

Mile Marker 0 on the southern tip holds a unique charm as the symbolic end of U.S. Route 1, a road that traverses nearly 2,400 miles across the United States.

This iconic spot captivates travelers with its emblematic significance, marking the culmination of a journey from the chill of Maine to the tropical warmth of the Florida Keys.

The allure of Mile Marker 0 is amplified by its proximity to picturesque beaches ideal for hotel guests to enjoy a refreshing swim, many coconut trees, sea life, tropical fish, palm trees and more.


The Florida Keys offer a breathtaking array of beaches, each with its unique charm. Idyllic spots that promise unforgettable experiences and serene escapes into nature’s beauty, making them a must-visit for beach lovers.