Visitors come to the Florida Keys for the beautiful weather and the chance to bask in the sun, at one of the many Florida Keys Beaches, while folks back home are shoveling snow and shivering. For many vacationers, a beach is requisite, and they plan on soaking up the sun and enjoying the ocean on their tropical vacation to the Florida Keys. The Keys do have beaches, but they are not as big as the famous beaches in other parts of Florida. Our coral reef protects our coastline from pounding waves, which is what creates sandy beaches. That’s also why we don’t have large waves, by the way. Well, in any case, human technology and parrot fish come to the rescue with imported sand and constant upkeep. Viola, we have Florida Keys beaches! Here’s a quick run-down of public beaches by area, starting in the Upper Keys and heading south and west towards Key West.
Upper Keys Beaches
John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Parkhas a beach area, with sand and trees for shade. The swimming area is a protected lagoon, with a spit of rocks forming the outer edge of the lagoon. Birds like to sit on the rocks, which makes for great pictures. You can walk along the mangrove edge of the swimming area-there’s a path, to the rocks. They have vending machines and a bathroom right next to the tiny beach.
Holiday Isle is located at Mile Marker 84.5 and has a beach. It’s a resort compound aimed at younger crowds and rowdy fun. They have tiki hut bars on the beach, rows of lounge chairs on the beach, jet ski rentals, and bikini shops galore. You can drive in and use their beach for free. They hope you’ll also buy a drink or two while you’re there.
Anne’s Beach is around Mile Marker 73, way down the road from Key Largo. It’s on the Ocean side, and you can easily miss it if you go too fast. It’s just a strip of parking next to the ocean, with a small bathroom facility. People make pit stops here, wading in to cool their feet before they continue on south.
Long Key State Recreation Area beach is located at Mile Marker 67.5 on the Ocean side. It’s not the greatest beach in the Keys…you really can’t swim because you have to go out so far until the water gets deep enough.
Middle Keys Beaches
Sombrero Beach is in Marathon. It’s one of the nicest Florida Keys beaches and it’s totally free and open to the public. Take a left onto Sombrero Beach Road at Mile Marker 50, the first light as you enter town from the east. The grounds have just been done over, with new bath houses, playground, and baseball diamond. The beach is one of the larger ones in the Keys, and it curves around gracefully, facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Bahia Honda State Park beach is one of the best in the Florida Keys, and is often written up in travel magazines as one of the best in the country. It’s on the Ocean side and faces an old bridge towards the West, so beach sunsets are spectacular.
Lower Keys Beaches
Beaches in the lower keys means mainly beaches in Key West. There are several in this small city:
- Smathers Beach
- Higgs Beach
- South Beach
- Dog Beach
- Fort Taylor beach