Top 5 Key West Beaches 

Top 5 Key West Beaches 

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Looking for the best beaches in Key West, FL to relax and have fun with friends and family? Check out our list down below.

1. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach

Rent bikes at Caribbean House and spend the day at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Beach. This is a unique experience, one that not only provides a superb natural setting to bird-watch or swim but also to immerse yourself in history.  It is the Southernmost State Park in The Continental US.  The beach is  sandy but near the water the bottom becomes rocky so being ocean shoes.  The beach area is shaded with lush surrounding trees and a lovely picnic area. The rock formations make for great  snorkeling so walk right off the beach to swim in the Straits of Florida (where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet). Additionally, you can visit Fort Taylor, which has the largest Civil War armament in the world. Food and refreshments are available at the Cayo Hueso Cafe, where you can buy sandwiches and drinks while relaxing by the ocean. There is  also operates a small gift shop where you can pick up last minute items such as sunscreen, towels and snorkel gear. A chickee hut rents chairs, umbrellas, snorkel gear. Many couple take advantage of this beautiful setting as the stage for their Key West wedding. The concession is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
This beach is also right next to a small beach called Straw Hat Beach.

You'll find the live beach cam here.

What can I do at Fort Zachary State Park?

  • Bicycling
  • Birding
  • Fishing
  • Geo-seeking
  • Walking or hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Swimming
  • Sun tanning
  • Snorkeling
  • Hosting an event like a beach wedding or family reunion

What are the Fort Zachary Taylor Beach hours?

The historic state park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown any time of the year. The fort in the park closes at 5 p.m.

Is the beach free?

No, you'll need to pay a fee of $5 per vehicle when entering the state park. Pedestrians and extra passengers in your vehicle pay $2.50. For a motorcycle or other single-occupant vehicle, you'll pay $4.50.

Where can I rent a chair?

You can rent beach chairs, snorkel gear and umbrellas at the on-site Chickee Hut Beach Rentals.

Where can I park?

You can park at the tourist parking lot near the state park.

Is the state park dog friendly?

Not really. Dogs aren't allowed at the fort, cafe or water in the historical park.

Where is Fort Zachary Taylor Beach?

2. Higgs Beach

Besides having gorgeous sunrises and sunsets on the beach, Higgs Beach is known for its pier, African Refugee Cemetery and tennis and pickleball courts. Enjoy clear waters while wearing water shoes, as there may be rocks in the water.

What can I do at Higgs Beach?

  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Suntanning
  • Walking around a garden or down the pier
  • Playing on the Astro City Playground
  • Winning a game of tennis or pickleball

What are the Higgs Beach hours?

The beach is open every day of the week, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Where can I rent a chair?

Some people who have visited the beach have mentioned they were able to rent umbrellas and chairs, but they didn't say where they got them.

Where can I park?

You can park at 1707 White St. Parking for free or on the street.

What's the history behind Higgs Beach?

The U.S. Navy rescued 1,432 African slaves from three U.S. boats participating in illegal slave trading. The navy brought the slaves to Key West, FL, where they were given freedom, food, clothing and shelter. However, due to the horrible conditions they were kept in before being rescued, 294 Africans died from disease. These Africans were buried at the African Refugee Cemetery.

Is Higgs Beach Key West dog friendly?

Yes, you can take your dog to Higgs Beach Dog Park.

Where is Higgs Beach in Key West?

3. Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach is a well-maintained, quiet beach with shallow water. The largest beach in Key West, Smathers is a great place to lay out in the sun, play beach volleyball or go kayaking in the salt water. Sometimes the beach has food trucks with wonderful food you can try as well.

Where can I rent a chair?

Some people online mentioned they were able to rent umbrellas, paddle boards and chairs at a hut, but they didn't say what its name was.

Where can I park?

On the street for $4 per hour from 8 a.m. to midnight. 

Where is it?

4. Dog Beach

Although small, Dog Beach is the best place to take your pup because it's the only place in Key West where dogs can swim in the water. Watch out for seaweed!

Where can I park?

Many people park their bikes or motorcycles at the entrance to the beach. Everyone else parks on the street.

Where is Dog Beach?

5. Rest Beach

Similar to Higgs Beach, Rest Beach has a pier called Edward B. Knight Pier you can walk out on to take nice photos of the ocean. The beach itself has a bike path called the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail behind it, where you can ride your bike. It also has palm trees nearby and a seawall that you can sit on. Try to find some seashells in the white sand, too.

Where can I park?

There are a couple of parking spots near the beach.

Where is Rest Beach?


Looking for the best Key West hotel near these great beaches? Stay at the Caribbean House. Not only do we provide great service, we also have a complimentary breakfast, high-speed Wi-Fi and private bathrooms.

If you're willing to take a day trip, there are other beaches and parks up the Florida Keys. You can find out more here.

*Note that for all the public beaches in Key West, you're not allowed to bring open containers of alcoholic beverages or anything glass. If the beach doesn't have hours listed, it is most likely open from dawn until dusk. Most of these beaches are free to visit as well.*