Key West Beaches
Key West is a small island with a lot of character and a fairly large population. With year-round sunshine and warm weather you’d have to guess that lots of folks will at one point or another seek out a beach in Key West to flop down and catch some of our Florida sunshine.
Along the south side of Key West are several spots to go bask in the sun and enjoy other activities. One of the most popular Key West beach locations is Smather’s Beach. This is the longest stretch of beach on the island and runs along the Atlantic. This beach has ample parking along the sidewalk adjacent to the beach and at the west end there are bathroom facilities and outdoor showers. There are designated handicap parking spaces along the stretch and also newly installed bike racks. There is also parking directly across the street along the road with several entrances.
There are several food cart vendors along Smather’s Beach and a few are there year-round. Coolers are allowed on the beach but alcohol is not formally allowed. There are covered cabanas every few hundred feet if cover from the sun is desired. There are companies that rent beach chairs, floats, umbrellas, Hobie Cat’s, paddleboards and kayaks.
Kiteboarding at Smather’s Beach is also popular when the winds prevail from the east and south. Kiteboarders can set up gear and launch at the very east end of the beach, the last jetty. There is ample parking past the end of the beach and usually when the wind is up you will find the locals down at Smather’s in the afternoon.
Just past the White Street Pier to the west of Smather’s Beach is Higg’s Beach. The stretch of beach offers areas along the pier and rock wall to fish. There can be a great variety of fish at White Street day or night. Rumor has it the tarpon and snook fishing at night around the pier can be quite good. I have not done it myself just yet. The West Martello Tower is situated on Higg’s Beach as well as a children’s playground, two pavillions, bathroom facilities and Salute Restaurant. While Higg’s is a smaller beach it has a lot to offer. There is also plenty of parking on either side of the restaurant and across the street from the beach are tennis courts and another children’s playground plus a dog park! This Key West beach is the only one with a dock that stretches out into the Atlantic and has steps going into the water. The dock is worth a stroll down just to get a different vantage point of the south side of the island.
West Martello Tower is a beautiful garden inside a brick fort if I had to describe it briefly. They ask for a nominal donation but it’s worth a look for the beauty of our flora and fauna plus some tropical birds have also made this their home.
Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park
Ft. Zach has the best of a lot of things you’d love to have at the beach. Parking, shade, sand, picnic tables, charcoal grills, chair and umbrella rentals and a concession stand complete with bottled beer and wine! Ft. Zach is one of my favorite places to go any time of the year. The Australian pine trees offer shade and a place to set up your spot for the day and then meander out on the beach for some sun. The park does have a fee to enter. By car it ranges from $4.50 and up but pedestrians and bicycle riders pay less. The fort itself is very neat and worth a look. At Halloween they decorate it and use it for a haunted house in the month of October.
This Key West beach is right on the corner of the island where the Atlantic meets Key West Harbor. Here you can sit along the many huge rocks that line the harbor and watch the fishing boats come in or the cruise ships leaving port to sail off into the sunset.