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michelle028

Best beaches in Key West?

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Hi everyone,

 

I'm looking for a great beach in Key West - easy to get to from the cruise port - walking or by the Duval loop trolley that I can exit and hop off and walk to a beach.

 

I'm looking for calm and clear water in a safe area. Don't mind if its crowded.

 

Thanks!

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Um. Key West is not known for beaches. There is one on the ocean side but it’s better for boating and drinking.

 

 

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Yuppa - Key West is not the place to go for beaches and forget about calm and clear water. Higgs Beach and Smathers Beach have sand and water. Southernmost Beach is a Beach in name only. All of them are accessible by the Old Town Trolley

 

 

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Key West is a great port for shopping, dining, shopping, day boat type trips, historical sites...but not so much for a beach.

 

The Army had to haul in sand to make a beach for Harry Truman.

 

You don't mention your other ports, but they may offer better beaches.

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Ft. Zachary Taylor beach is about a 20-30 minute walk from the port, if you walk through Truman Annex. It's a small beach in a state park, so there is a small fee ($2.50 if you walk in). The sand itself is pretty hard and a bit rocky, so water shoes are helpful. There are pine trees and picnic tables behind the beach if you want shade. The calmness and clarity vary, so you never know, but on a good day, it's quite calm. Definitely safe. I really like the beach, think the setting is very pretty, and go there regularly when I'm in KW. You wouldn't save much walking to go there by the Duval Loop bus, as you will have to walk almost as long, but from a different direction.

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Ft. Zachary Taylor beach is about a 20-30 minute walk from the port, if you walk through Truman Annex. It's a small beach in a state park, so there is a small fee ($2.50 if you walk in). The sand itself is pretty hard and a bit rocky, so water shoes are helpful. There are pine trees and picnic tables behind the beach if you want shade. The calmness and clarity vary, so you never know, but on a good day, it's quite calm. Definitely safe. I really like the beach, think the setting is very pretty, and go there regularly when I'm in KW. You wouldn't save much walking to go there by the Duval Loop bus, as you will have to walk almost as long, but from a different direction.

 

Another fan of Ft Zachary Taylor here - my wife and I go there every time we stay in KW (but probably wouldn't bother on a cruise stop). The beach is rough, lots of coral rubble, but it's still a nice area with a decent snack shack, picnic areas, trees for shade, a good amount of space for wandering, and the fort.

 

 

If you do decide to walk there, look at a map to get an idea of where you are going. Last time my wife and I were there in Dec, we stopped to give a lot of people directions who were visibly confused on where they were going - particularly on the corner of Thomas and Southard, where it looks like Southard ends and leads into a private condo complex (Truman Annex)

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Another fan of Ft Zachary Taylor here - my wife and I go there every time we stay in KW (but probably wouldn't bother on a cruise stop). The beach is rough, lots of coral rubble, but it's still a nice area with a decent snack shack, picnic areas, trees for shade, a good amount of space for wandering, and the fort.

 

 

If you do decide to walk there, look at a map to get an idea of where you are going. Last time my wife and I were there in Dec, we stopped to give a lot of people directions who were visibly confused on where they were going - particularly on the corner of Thomas and Southard, where it looks like Southard ends and leads into a private condo complex (Truman Annex)

 

Forgot about Ft Zachary - Nice state park and you can snorkel here, although we prefer taking a day trip out to Dry Tortugas National Park for that when we stay in KW

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Forgot about Ft Zachary - Nice state park and you can snorkel here, although we prefer taking a day trip out to Dry Tortugas National Park for that when we stay in KW

 

 

That's a great trip - as long as you don't mind the 3 hour ferry ride, or the sea plan cost (one of these days my wife and I will suck it up pay to take the sea plane)

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I did this many years ago when it wasn't too, too expensive...

fort-jefferson.jpg

 

At that time (I think) you could walk out to Bush Key as long as it wasn't mating season for the birds...

027_24-L.jpg

 

If you go bite the bullet and go for the whole day.

 

Pjk

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I was at Fort Jefferson a few weeks ago, you can walk all the way around Bush Key, you just can't go to Long Key.

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Yuppa - Key West is not the place to go for beaches and forget about calm and clear water. Higgs Beach and Smathers Beach have sand and water. Southernmost Beach is a Beach in name only. All of them are accessible by the Old Town Trolley

 

 

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What beach are you referring to as "Southermost Beach"? The Southermost Hotel's beach?

 

The problem with those beaches on the south side of the island is that they are very hit or miss. On a calm/flat day, they are stunning. Any wind at all and they are "meh."

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What beach are you referring to as "Southermost Beach"? The Southermost Hotel's beach?

 

The problem with those beaches on the south side of the island is that they are very hit or miss. On a calm/flat day, they are stunning. Any wind at all and they are "meh."

 

That's the one. We always stay on that end of the island and have breakfast at the Southernmost Beach Café - most of the time we see the beach there is "meh"

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That's the one. We always stay on that end of the island and have breakfast at the Southernmost Beach Café - most of the time we see the beach there is "meh"

 

That is a pretty cool cafe, been there many times. On a nice day, right on the beach!

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That is a pretty cool cafe, been there many times. On a nice day, right on the beach!

 

Watching the cruise ships coming in!

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When not actually on a cruise, I find the cruise ships coming in to Key West annoying, lol. They just dump a ton of people into the street and crowd everything up, plus block the western views.

 

I really do enjoy watching the cruise ships leaving in the evening at South Pointe park (South Beach) though. You can get a table at Smith and Wollensky and enjoy dinner and watch the ships.

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When not actually on a cruise, I find the cruise ships coming in to Key West annoying, lol. They just dump a ton of people into the street and crowd everything up, plus block the western views.

 

I really do enjoy watching the cruise ships leaving in the evening at South Pointe park (South Beach) though. You can get a table at Smith and Wollensky and enjoy dinner and watch the ships.

 

I agree with you - aren't we hypocrites, lol!!

 

We try to time our KW visits when cruise ships are minimal. We always stay in Upper Duval since it tends to be quieter, at least until cruise ships come in and overrun the Southern Most Point in the US buoy.

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I've stayed at Southernmost on the Beach but the prices the last few years have gone haywire! I stayed in Key West last month for a few days but I'm not in a hurry to go back. It's charming, we like it, but for the prices, I'd rather hop a flight over to Nassau if I want a "vacation." Key West is more like a party scene to me and it really is a pretty good port stop for cruise ships. I won't ever go there on a cruise though since we live so close, it feels "weird."

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okay, I have 2 questions - we agree the beaches in KW are less than desirable

 

so>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

1. If we rent a car for the day can we head north a bit and find a nice beach that rents loungers?

 

2. Are there any great excursions/ferry that will take us to an offshore beach for the day that also rents loungers?

 

We are in KW from 7-5 so have a long day and would love to find a cool beach

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The Keys are not known for beaches. You aren't being realistic in what you want. The best beach, by far, is not accessible to you - it's at Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas and you wouldn't have the time to make it there and back. The best beach within an acceptable drive would probably be Bahia Honda and that's about an hour drive east. The only beach you would probably have access to would be Fort Zachery, and I'm almost certain you can rent loungers there, but don't picture your bright white Caribbean sand and crystal clear water. South Beach (next to Southernmost) is another option that has chair rentals but it's not exactly a great beach. And how could I forget... Smathers and Higgs Beach. You should just google and research them and see if any are to your liking.

Edited by BNBR

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None of the beaches are "good"...go to a beach in a different port. Key West is NOT a "beach" place.

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okay, I have 2 questions - we agree the beaches in KW are less than desirable

 

so>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

1. If we rent a car for the day can we head north a bit and find a nice beach that rents loungers?

 

2. Are there any great excursions/ferry that will take us to an offshore beach for the day that also rents loungers?

 

We are in KW from 7-5 so have a long day and would love to find a cool beach

 

1. No. There is no nice beach driving distance from Key West. Bahia Honda, mentioned above, was destroyed in Hurricane Irma and is mostly closed. It will be many more months, potentially a year, before the park is restored. You also would be taking a risk renting a car on the Overseas Highway. An accident can stop traffic for hours and you may miss your ship’s departure.

 

2. There are private charters that go to offshore sandbars. Fun in the Sun Charters is one example. You can find others listed on TripAdvisor under top attractions for Key West. They are very expensive. I’m guessing about $600 for a half day.

 

I’m sure you have better beach destinations on your cruise. I would do something else while in Key West.

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The main crescent beach at Bahia Honda is open. I wouldn't go there in a rented car on a cruise, though.

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The main crescent beach at Bahia Honda is open. I wouldn't go there in a rented car on a cruise, though.

 

Just to be clear, the nicer beach that has received so much press and is the reason the park is so well known, Sandspur Beach, is closed. The Bayside beach (Calusa beach) is opened along with about 20 percent of the park.

 

Have you been there recently? I was there about two weeks ago and the park looked terrible. Damage remains plainly visible everywhere, the concession building is closed, and even the open areas of the park look very bad.

 

It is not worth the trip in my opinion.

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The Keys are not known for beaches. You aren't being realistic in what you want. The best beach, by far, is not accessible to you - it's at Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas and you wouldn't have the time to make it there and back. The best beach within an acceptable drive would probably be Bahia Honda and that's about an hour drive east. The only beach you would probably have access to would be Fort Zachery, and I'm almost certain you can rent loungers there, but don't picture your bright white Caribbean sand and crystal clear water. South Beach (next to Southernmost) is another option that has chair rentals but it's not exactly a great beach. And how could I forget... Smathers and Higgs Beach. You should just google and research them and see if any are to your liking.

 

Smathers and Higgs would not be good beaches to go to, IMHO - they have sand and the ocean but that's about it. They have chair rentals but IIRC, its all open - very little, if any shade other than under the few pavilions they have.

 

And while we love going to Dry Tortugas, OP doesn't have enough time on their cruise stop to make it worthwhile to go, if its even possible given their timeline

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Just to be clear, the nicer beach that has received so much press and is the reason the park is so well known, Sandspur Beach, is closed. The Bayside beach (Calusa beach) is opened along with about 20 percent of the park.

 

Have you been there recently? I was there about two weeks ago and the park looked terrible. Damage remains plainly visible everywhere, the concession building is closed, and even the open areas of the park look very bad.

 

It is not worth the trip in my opinion.

 

I was there a few weeks ago. I wouldn't make the drive, either.

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yeah, I think we are going to maybe do a snorkel tour or something off the ship. Nothing else in Key West I want to do, been there too many times so have done all the "touristy" stuff. If we cannot find a good snorkel tour, we will probably just stay on the ship.

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I caught a commercial for Fury Adventures the other day. May want to check them out.

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yeah, I think we are going to maybe do a snorkel tour or something off the ship. Nothing else in Key West I want to do, been there too many times so have done all the "touristy" stuff. If we cannot find a good snorkel tour, we will probably just stay on the ship.

 

I would recommend Floridays for a great snorkeling adventure as opposed to the "cattle boats' that carry so many.

 

https://floridayskeywest.com And you can save $$$ by booking online.

 

Mike:)

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There are a few smaller boats - the Javacat or the Patty C - which wouldn't be too bad for a private charter. If you can swing four hours you'd have enough time to hit a snorkeling spot then hit the Sandbar...

image-L.jpg

 

image-L.jpg

 

These two boats will take two - six people, but there's one other that will take up to 11 - The Echo II.

 

Pjk

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Posted (edited)

How about Smathers beach? Any thoughts? What is the easiest way of getting there?

Edited by michelle028

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I assume you have read the previous remarks about the keys not being a beach destination as all of the beaches are man made.

 

The easiest and most direct way for you to get to Smathers Beach is to take a taxi which will be much less expensive than using the trolley.

 

Five Sixes Taxi 305-296-6666

 

Mike:)

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I assume you have read the previous remarks about the keys not being a beach destination as all of the beaches are man made.

 

The easiest and most direct way for you to get to Smathers Beach is to take a taxi which will be much less expensive than using the trolley.

 

Five Sixes Taxi 305-296-6666

 

Mike:)

 

Thanks!

 

What I'm thinking is to take the Trolley get off at Southernmost Point early morning and then take the taxi to Smathers.

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Thanks!

 

What I'm thinking is to take the Trolley get off at Southernmost Point early morning and then take the taxi to Smathers.

 

Skip the trolley as that is just unnecessary expense. You don't need both modes of transportation.

 

Mike:)

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I personally think Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach is nicer and much easier to get to than Smathers Beach.

 

However, if you want to see the Southernmost Point and then go to Smathers, then taking the free Duval Loop first and then a taxi makes sense.

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I personally think Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach is nicer and much easier to get to than Smathers Beach.

 

However, if you want to see the Southernmost Point and then go to Smathers, then taking the free Duval Loop first and then a taxi makes sense.

 

^^^ This

 

Smathers beach is also pretty much butted up to Roosevelt Blvd

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^^^ This

 

Smathers beach is also pretty much butted up to Roosevelt Blvd

 

What do you mean by this?

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Ocean, beach, Roosevelt Blvd

 

 

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I personally think Ft. Zachary Taylor Beach is nicer and much easier to get to than Smathers Beach.

 

However, if you want to see the Southernmost Point and then go to Smathers, then taking the free Duval Loop first and then a taxi makes sense.

 

By chance, how much do you think a taxi would cost from the Southernmost point to Smathers?

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Are you really this determined to go to the beach in Key West? What other stops do you have? Can you just extend an extra night and do a beach day in South Florida? Key West is simply not a great beach destination.

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