Florida Keys Beaches, USA

Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Florida Keys, USA

A beautifully composed photo of Sombrero Beach avoiding the inevitable seaweed spoiling the shot! Still, the sand is nice and white. Photo by Franz-Stellbrink.

Sombrero Beach in the city of Marathon is one of the Keys’ most attractive beaches with narrow white sand backed by palm trees. It’s easy to get to and offers full facilities,  a fine city beach good  for swimming, picnics and volleyball. Loggerhead turtle nest there from April-October so some areas will be off-limits at that time.

Best Florida Keys beaches

America’s Florida Keys are a 120 mile long chain of tropical islands curving around the base of the Florida peninsula, connected to the mainland by a vastly long and much-filmed  bridge.
The main islands run from Key Largo, Islamadora, Marathon, Lower Keys down to Key West, the most distant and most famous island.
Florida Key beaches are not comparable with either East Florida or West Florida beaches as they are much smaller and have a tendency to seaweed collection, both on shore and in the shallow waters, especially on the Caribbean side.

Key West, Florida, USA, seen from air.

A jam-packed Key West seen by satellite by Planet Labs.

Life in the Florida Keys is mostly about boating, fishing and diving and not so focused on pure sandy-beach holidays, due to the small size of the most beaches and amount of seaweed, flotsam and jetsam (marine garbage) littering the shore. Tourists who want fine, manicured sand and clear, calm waters may prefer to stay in a resort with a man-made beach or head for the Caribbean.

More Florida Keys beaches

The mile-long Sandspur Beach, on the Atlantic side of Bahia Honda.

The best beaches in this region are found in Bahia Honda Key (30 miles north of Key West) and Smathers Beach, Key West.

On the Atlantic Ocean side of Bahia Honda State Park there is the park’s longest beach, Sandspur, family-friendly with generally calm waters and a gentle gradient as well as shallow Loggerhead Beach with a large sand bar offshore. On the Caribbean side, the smallest beach is Calusa (near the Bahia Honda Bridge) offering traditional Caribbean qualities of clear water, white coral sand and a palm backdrop.
Depending on the season or how unlucky you are, seaweed and sand flies may be troublesome.

The Park offers facilities such as charter fishing boats, kayaks and bicycle  rentals, camping, restrooms, showers, shops and cafés as well as  daily snorkeling tours to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary one of the best reefs in the Florida Keys.

 Bahia Honda Park accommodation

Three camping areas in the park provide a total of 80 campsites for both tent and RV campers. Rest rooms and hot showers are easily accessible. In addition three duplex cabins are furnished for 6 people per cabin with linen and utensils provided.

Early morning on Smathers Beach in Key West. Photo by Juliancolton

Smathers Beach is Key West’s largest beach, a busy 2 mile length of sand located south of Roosevelt Boulevard with plenty of parking and many activities on offer – water sports rentals, parasailing, windsurfing, volleyball, bike paths, snack vendors, restrooms, eating and drinking spots and more.

Smathers Beach, Key West, Florida, USA

Smathers Beach seen from the sea. Photo Marc Averette.

Key Largo rocky shoreline, Florida, USA

Key Largo  shoreline. Photo Yinan-Chen

The Florida Keys Shipwreck Heritage Trail is a line of nine wreck sites (20-130 ft deep) that stretches from Key Largo to Key West.
The Keys are excellent for fishing, kayaking, snorkelling and diving and are home to the North America’s best living coral reefs, where colourful fish large and small are a great attraction, as are the wreck dives onto accidental as well as deliberately sunk shipping.

Higgs Beach and its fine white sands lies at the end of Raynold’s Street and is a brilliant place for children, with playgrounds, water sports rentals and all the facilities a mother needs for free! Good snorkeling too.

A fun day out for children is to head for Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park with its imposing old fort. It has a calm beach with lots of shade and is known for marvellous sunset views, though the sands contain coral chips so beach shoes are useful. It’s recommended that you take your own food and drink supplies as those on sale are well overpriced.

For pooches, Dog Beach is makes a fine barking point, located at the end of Alberta Street, though it’s hardly large.

Layton FL, Long Key SP beach, USA

Long Key SP beach, Layton FL. Photo Ebyabe

Florida Keys Weather

Bahia Honda at night looking east, Florida USA

Bahia Honda SP looking east. Florida Keys, USA. Photo Viktorwills

The official hurricane season begins June 1 and ends on November 30 but storms/rain are most likely mid-August to mid-October so the best time to go to Florida Keys for a full-on beach experience is April-June. In summertime the average high air temperature is 32C (89F), water temperature 30C (85F), in winter air lows reach 18C (65F).

Get to the Keys from the mainland via U. S. 1, the Overseas Highway which is a wild drive and one of the most unusual aspects of the Keys!

Visitors to the Upper Keys can fly into Miami International Airport or Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. From there get a shuttle bus or rental car and arrive in the Upper Keys in about an hour from Miami or 100 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale. Travelling to Key West from the mainland will take about 3. 5 hours.

Tourists can fly to Marathon, the small city at the mid-point of the island chain, aboard small airlines such as Florida Coastal Airlines and SeaCoast Airlines. Shuttle buses and rental cars are available in Marathon.

Visitors can also fly to Key West International Airport from many Florida cities. Shuttle buses and rental cars are available.