It’s an island paradise…but with very few beaches. This surprises many.
Well, really there’s a very simple explanation for this: Key West and the rest of the Florida Keys are actually coral islands. This means that once a long time ago, the waters around the islands were deeper and the islands themselves were once reefs.
But the passage of time brought a lot of changes to the face of the earth and among those affected was the area of the ocean where the Florida Keys are sitting on. Now, what was once a rich marine reef is now an island paradise rich with history, attractions, and fun things to do.
What few Key West beaches are left are now precious little pockets of delights where anyone from every walk of life can spend some quality beach time in this southernmost tip of the Keys.
Fort Taylor Key West Beach
A state park (Fort Zachary Taylor State Park) and a local favorite, Fort Taylor Key West beach is a mixture of sand and coral rock with no less than three beautiful coves. Until lately, the beach was replenished with sand so that people could set up their towels on the sand. But with the recent Hurricane Dennis, much of that sand was swept away, leaving Fort Taylor Key West beach much like the way it was before – rocky!
But the waters are great for swimming. Snorkelers will especially enjoy exploring the rock-pile barriers located just offshore where many small tropical fish thrive.
Smathers Key West Beach
As the largest Key West beach, Smathers stretches for about 2 miles along the island’s southern shore. Here you can participate in all sorts of beach activity, including tanning, volleyball, and water sport or beach sport rentals. Surfing is probably not a good idea, but snorkelers have a nice swimming area, again located offshore. Majority of the fun things to do on this Key West beach happens right on the beach.
Dry Tortugas Beach
Another state park (Fort Jefferson State Park) and a local favorite, Dry Tortugas beach is located nearly 90 miles from Key West. People who’ve been to the place say that it is one of the nicest beaches in the entire chain of Florida Keys, with crystal clear waters and nice, fine white sand.
You can get there by taking the Dry Tortugas Ferry. The trip will probably take you an entire day, if not less, but it includes breakfast, lunch, snorkeling gear, and a guided tour of the historic fort – so it’s all worth it!
Alternatively, there is also the Dry Tortugas seaplane which offers amazing flights with stunning views of the emerald green backcountry islands.