The 10 most amazing beaches along the colorful Florida Keys

You don’t have to be a “parrot head” or a pugilistic author to experience the place that drew in both Jimmy Buffett and Ernest Hemingway. The colorful Florida Keys are for everyone! From families looking for some of the country’s most amazing snorkeling spots to singles looking for a street party in paradise, read on to discover the top 10 beaches this side of Margaritaville.

Sandspur Beach

Sandspur Beach @viagemeturismo

Sandspur Beach is a full mile of gorgeous beach and great swimming in the heart of Bahia Honda State Park, and some consider it one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. The offshore reefs keep the water shallow and calm, perfect for toddlers to splash in and play. You can rent kayaks in the park for another fun family activity, and there are picnic areas, public washrooms, lots of bike paths, and a snack bar that sells pizza and ice cream.

Best for: Families with little kids
Book a rental: On Big Pine Key

Calusa Beach

Calusa Beach @mkfc1981

Calusa Beach is on the Gulf side of the Bahia Honda State Park, between Big Pine Key and Marathon. It’s one of the top 10 beaches in the Florida Keys for a picnic because it’s sheltered, calm, and tremendously pretty, and it has a covered picnic area and lots of parking. Calusa is a great beach for families with young children, because the water is very calm, but the shore does slope off quickly just past the beach, so keep an eye on young swimmers. It has excellent snorkeling because there are tons of fish in the water and a reef close to shore. There’s also a nature center for those who want to learn about the local plants and animals.

Best for: Family picnics
Book a rental: On Big Pine Key

Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach @alekomioo

Smathers Beach has virtually everything you could want on a beach, except lifeguards. Smathers is Key West’s biggest public beach, and it’s brimming with activity. The beach is right next to Roosevelt Boulevard, with a wide sidewalk packed with bikers, inline skaters, and people out for a stroll. On the water, you can windsurf, kite surf, kayak, or jet ski. And if you want to stay on the beach, you can play volleyball or just people watch, because when it’s busy, it’s full of beautiful people. Vendors up and down the beach rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and any type of activity equipment you need. The soft sand and shady coconut trees at Smathers give it an island paradise feeling, plus the food trucks will keep you fed and there are plenty of bathrooms.

Best for: People watchers
Book a rental: On Key West

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park @ajp 001

Desiring something more quiet and secluded? You can only get to Dry Tortugas National Park by taking a two-hour catamaran ride from Key West. The trek is well worth it, as the waters around the seven islands of the Dry Tortugas are full of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles, shipwrecks, stunning reefs, and lovely shoals. Bring an underwater camera to get pictures of the great sea life you’ll see while snorkeling or scuba diving. Back on dry land, you’ll relish the serenity of drying off on the soft white sand of a beach you have practically all to yourself.

Best for: Anyone seeking fewer crowds and more beach
Book a rental: On Key West

Sombrero Beach

Sombrero Beach, Marathon @j hmmmgraphy

Right in the heart of Marathon, the water at Sombrero Beach is a little deeper than at most beaches in the Florida Keys, so it’s best for strong swimmers. Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards, but the conditions are generally good. There are also washrooms and a nice playground.

Best for: Good swimmers
Book a rental: In Marathon near the beach

Zachary Taylor State Park Beach

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park @travelwith_els

The popularity of Zachary Taylor State Park Beach makes it one of the top 10 beaches in the Florida Keys. It’s also the southernmost beach in the US. Fully equipped with bathrooms, a snack bar, picnic areas, barbecue grills, and places to rent beach equipment, Zachary Taylor Beach has all the facilities you need to plan a full beach day. Additionally, it’s very convenient as you can even bike there from downtown Key West. If you want a little break from the sand and water, or if you’d like a little culture, stop at historic Fort Zachary Taylor for a fascinating look at the history of the Keys.

Best for: Everyone
Book a rental: On Key West

Higgs Beach

Higgs Beach @rimhajri

Higgs Beach is the go-to beach when Smathers Beach gets too crowded, but it’s also a great choice if you brought your dog on vacation. Higgs is very popular because of the variety of activities you can do there. The beach has a children’s playground, beach volleyball and tennis courts, lots of room for swimming and snorkeling, and a bike path along the beach. Tropical Water Sports will rent kayaks and paddleboards to those who want to get on the water, and chairs and umbrellas for those who want to relax. There’s a restaurant right on the beach, appropriately named Salute! on the Beach. The restaurant’s view can’t be beat, and the mussels and other seafood are excellent, but be sure to save room for their famous Key Lime Pie. Your canine buddy will love Higgs Beach Dog Park. It has separate places for small and large dogs, and drinking fountains throughout to keep your pup hydrated.

Best for: Anyone who wants an active day on the beach
Book a rental: On Key West

Rest Beach

Rest Beach @jcarrillbro

Just next door to Higgs Beach, Rest Beach is one of the nicest places to watch the sunrise on Key West. It has a nice yoga deck with yoga classes offered every evening, so you can enjoy the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset as you execute your poses. Rest is a great spot for snorkeling and a nice surf break. The pretty White Street Pier separates Higgs and Rest Beach and is perfect for a stroll, and it’s popular with fishermen who come to fish off the pier for snook and redfish.

Best for: Early risers
Book a rental: On Key West

Anne’s Beach

Anne's Beach @itmustaben

If you prefer to lounge sans clothing, Anne’s Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand surrounded by mangrove trees and a pleasant boardwalk. No need to be shy, as Anne’s Beach is known as a local nudist beach, so feel free to swim in the buff. There are many private coves, and the crowds tend to stay away. There are also several nice picnic tables, so bring a picnic lunch and a cooler.

Best for: Nudists
Book a rental: On Islamorada

Key West Dog Beach

Louie's Backyard dog beach @hung_w_chien

Key West Dog Beach, at the corner of Vernon and Waddell, is a pet-owner favorite on Key West. It’s about a half-dozen blocks from Higgs Beach Dog Park, and dogs are more than welcome to run, splash, and fetch to their heart’s content. When they’re all tired out, you can head next door to a restaurant that not only serves excellent food and cold drinks, but also welcomes your pet with open arms. Their conch chowder is a great starter, and you can’t go wrong with their shrimp and grits, pork chops, lamb ribs, or fresh catch of the day.

Best for: Dog owners and their furry friends
Book a rental: Near Higgs Beach