Smathers Beach – What to Know

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Smathers Beach – Courtesy of CC

 

At slightly less than a mile in length, Smathers is Key West’s largest beach. For visitors anxious to enjoy the palm-lined, white sand beach, its a two mile (20-minute) bike ride away form the center of Old Town. When tourists envision spending the day at the beach, they flock to Smathers. Located on the southern side of Key West along the Atlantic Ocean, Smathers parallels A1A, has plenty of parking, and is easy to reach from anywhere on the island.

While you’ll find plenty of beachgoers at Smathers during the day, it never feels crowded. However, if you’re looking to avoid the masses who frequent the beach during the day, you’re in luck. Sunrise and sunset are superb times to appreciate the beauty of Smathers Beach while dodging the crowds. Just don’t forget your camera.

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Smathers Beach at Sunrise – Courtesy of CC

From swimming and snorkeling, to jet skis and parasailing, Smathers offers something for everyone. Other amenities include restrooms & showers, sand volleyball courts, and kayak & other water-sport rentals. Feeling hungry? Just head street-side and hit up one of the food trucks offering seafood, burgers, shaved ice, drinks, and more. 150,000 annual visitors can’t be wrong.

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Looking for a place to call home during your next Key West vacation? Check out our licensed vacation rental in Old Town Key West at oldtowntruman.com.

Next time: Catch that Key West Sunset: Part I

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Higgs Beach – What to Know

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Higgs Beach – Courtesy of CC

If you’re staying in Old Town, then you’re only a 10 or 15  minute leisurely bike ride from Higgs Beach Park. One of Key West’s most-visited beaches, Higgs and its neighboring park encompass 16 acres along the Atlantic Coast. Located at the southern end of White Street (or Reynolds St.), Higgs has just about everything you’d want from a day at the beach. Arrive early, and for a daily fee you can claim your chair & umbrella. The staff at the chair rental stand will help you find the best spot and get you set up for the day.

Along with the beach, the park & surrounding area offers visitors a chance to experience and explore West Martello Tower –  a Civil War era fort, Key West garden club, Key West Wildlife Center, recently-discovered African cemetery and burial grounds, the AIDS Memorial, White Street Pier, and other events and activities.

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Higgs Beach – Courtesy of @wonderfulkeywest

With a wide, sandy beach, shallow blue water, long wooden pier, snorkeling, beach chairs, a restaurant, and free parking, Higgs Beach is tough to beat.

Recently, Jimmy Buffet fans who didn’t have tickets to his sold-out Key West show were able to enjoy the concert as it was televised live on Higgs Beach. The concert was free and hosted by Buffet’s daughter. Along with the concert, beachgoers were treated to food, drinks, and live music from local reggae band, The Skank.

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The Skank performs at Higgs – Courtesy of Heather K.

Locals and visitors alike enjoy heading to Higgs for Salute! On the Beach. Located directly on the beach, Salute! boasts a full bar, fresh apps, fish sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and nightly entree offerings. It’s hard to beat this beachside cafe for lunch, dinner & ocean views.

If you didn’t bring a picnic lunch or you aren’t quite feeling up to leaving your lounge chair for the stroll over to Salute!, have no fear. Local favorites like Sandy’s Cafe and Cuban Coffee Queen will happily deliver breakfast or lunch straight to you at the beach. Just tell them to meet you at the Higgs Beach chair rental stand and you’ll be set for the day.

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Looking for a place to call home during your next Key West vacation? Check out our licensed vacation rental in Old Town Key West at oldtowntruman.com.

Next time: Smathers Beach – What to Know

Who Says Key West Doesn’t Have Good Beaches?

Smathers Beach - Image Courtesy of CC
Smathers Beach – Image Courtesy of CC

With the temps dropping and winter quickly approaching, Colorado feels about a million miles away from the Florida Keys. It’s not even December and we’ve already faced one early snowstorm that threatened us with 12 to 16 inches in one night. As I type this, it’s 80 degrees, breezy and humid down there, and 30 degrees, blustery and dry here in the Rockies. This has me already wishing I was back in Paradise, sunning in a lounger at one of Key West’s fantastic public beaches.

So it’s ironic that over the last few days, I’ve had two people mention Key West’s lack of beaches. Key West doesn’t have any beaches! one of my condo neighbors exclaimed as we made small talk in the elevator. And prior to that, while talking travel at a local pub, I had to endure the myth yet again. How come you guys like Key West so much? It’s not like they have any good beaches!  And these two people have both been to Key West.

Clear Blue Water at Fort Zach Beach - Image Courtesy of CC
Clear Blue Water at Fort Zach Beach – Image Courtesy of CC

Wondering why travelers continue to underrate the Key West’s beaches, I did a quick online search and was surprised by what I read. On one site, a national travel blogger claimed that people who came to Key West for its beach scene had obviously never been there before. And another article in which the author suggested that if you came to Key West looking for beautiful, sandy beaches, you were going to be disappointed.

Key West has at least four wonderful beaches, and if you don’t mind a 45 minute drive up the Keys, Bahia Honda State Park is must-see.

Scanning through the search results, I came across some interesting perspectives on the many beaches that the tiny isle of Key West has to offer. Having spent a lot of time at the beach in Key West, I’m hoping I can help dispel some of the misinformation and offer vacation travelers a better perspective on the lower Keys beach scene.

I’ll give you the lowdown on the beaches to add to your itinerary, including Higgs, Smathers, South, Fort Zach, & Bahia Honda. Hopefully, your next Key West vacation will be more enjoyable now that you know what to expect.

Looking for a place to call home during your next Key West vacation? Check out our licensed vacation rental in Old Town Key West at oldtowntruman.com.

Next time: Higgs Beach – What to Know

Making the Most of Your Key West Vacation

How did you spend your first trip to Key West? A friend recently told me a story about his first – a few guys celebrating an upcoming wedding with an impromptu bachelor party in Key West’s historic Old Town. They spent their time wandering Duval Street in a drunken stupor and ate “almost every meal” at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.

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Mallory Square – Courtesy of Good Free Photos

Sound familiar? Lined with so many hotels, bars, restaurants, galleries, & shops, Duval Street is often the first (and only) stop for visitors to this tiny island. Often referred to as party central, Duval Street is most famous for its adult-themed entertainment, including pub crawls, live music, dive bars, lax public drinking enforcement, and even more lax dress code.

So while it’s neither surprising nor uncommon to hear Key West vacation stories similar to my friend’s, it is a bit unfortunate because this tiny island has so much more to offer.

Many of Key West’s treasures can be found off Duval Street.

Assuming you’ve got more than 24 hours to spend in Key West, there’s a wide variety of things to do before you head out for a night of frozen drinks and live music. And if you aren’t quite feeling up to one more meal at Margaritaville, or you’d just like to experience the slightly quieter side of Old Town, there’s an array of excellent restaurants off Duval that are absolutely worth your attention.

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The Famous Key West Lighthouse

Want to hit the beach? There’s some fantastic beaches to choose from. Feel like some museums and history? From Hemingway’s home to Truman’s Little White House, there’s dozens of attractions to explore. Feeling a bit lazy? Let the World Famous Conch Tour Train guide you around paradise.

If you’d like to make the most of your next Key West vacation, set down that frozen daiquiri and follow Southernmost Points for a glimpse of all that Key West has to offer.

Next time: Who Says Key West Doesn’t Have Good Beaches?