Traverc pexels-leonardo-rossatti-2598683-1 Take a Caribbean Beach Vacation in Key West Florida

Take a Caribbean Beach Vacation in Key West Florida

By Cindy M. Rhoades 

People tend to get confused about Key West beaches, don’t know what to expect, and really do need a Key West Beach Guide. Especially if they’ve never been to the Florida Keys, they tend to recall images they’ve seen of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Fort Meyers on the mainland of Florida. While Florida’s mainland shoreline tends to be long and sweeping with lapping or crashing waves, the Florida Keys provide an entirely different experience. More like what you find in The Bahamas than the continental United States, Key West Beaches are really like the Caribbean.

When you think about the sub-tropical geographic location of the island it all makes sense. The Florida Keys are actually an archipelago of over 1000 tiny coral islands in shallow water about 200 miles from The Bahamas, depending on where you land. A Key West island vacation provides a wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand tropical Caribbean-style coral reef beaches. This is because they are flat islands, the top remnants of former coral reefs.

Florida Keys beaches look a lot like The Bahamas, with white sand, coral rocks, living reefs, and shallow turquoise water with tropical fish right off shore. The living coral reef line is 7 miles offshore and protects the flat islands of the Florida Keys from crashing waves. This creates fantastic swimming and snorkeling, where you can wade out into the water a considerable distance, and in many places snorkel a living reef without even getting on a boat. The other amazing thing about Key West is that on such a tiny island of only 2 miles by 4 miles there are many different beaches to enjoy.

While there are so many things to see and do in Key West, it’s actually possible to plan your vacation around the beach experience and find something to do for every member of the family. Smathers Beach is known for its long strip of white sand, wind and kite surfing, and volley ball. Higgs Beach is loved for swimming, the landmark White Street Pier, a popular restaurant, and the Astro City children’s playground. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and is generally considered the favorite snorkeling beach with the amazing feature of a pre-Civil War fort, stands of pine trees and trails to explore.

Then you have one-of-a-kind little island spots like South Beach that has a fantastic resort restaurant scene, Dog Beach, where you spend the day with your four-legged family member, Rest Beach, where you can meander through the vegetation, and tiny Simonton Beach on the Gulf side of the island that offers a sandy spot to peak at little Christmas Tree Island off-shore.

The island also boasts beaches that are a little ways away from the island proper. Bahia Honda State Park really feels like The Bahamas includes over 500 acres of sand and water, and is 30 miles north of U.S. Highway 1. And then there’s Fort Jefferson National Park and the Dry Tortugas which is 70 miles off-shore and is reached by boat or seaplane. Many consider this place the “Jewel of Key West.”

The Key West shore is also a popular destination for island weddings. Especially at sunset, couples have their tropical dream wedding on the island and say their vows on the sand. Many choose to stay in private vacation rentals for their accommodations and hire professional wedding planners who know how to set the perfect wedding on the beach.

So there you go. When you plan your beach vacation, don’t think of ‘long stretches of sand with crashing waves’ as you find on the mainland of Florida. Think ‘my Caribbean vacation.’ And as a bonus – Remember, beyond the white coral and shoreline, you can explore the underwater living coral reefs on the Atlantic side and immerse yourself on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island’s ‘Back Country.’

If you are interested in learning more, take a look at the Key West Beach Guide developed by Vacation Homes of Key West. You can find it at –

Cindy Rhoades

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