Smathers Beach, 2601 S Roosevelt Blvd, Key West, FL 33040
Is there a more charming place than Key West? Just thinking about a trip there is dreamy and filled with visions of sunshine and margaritas. We traveled to Key West in the winter which is the perfect time.
It was fantastic driving down the Overseas Highway. It is a 113 mile highway drive from Key Largo to Key West. The water becomes a rich blue-green color the farther down you drive. It's stunning beauty was an experience we will never forget. Our time in Key West was short but sweet. We revisited some favorite places we remembered from our honeymoon 30 years ago. We think you will treasure them too!
Key West Sand
Just like in Key Largo, the sand on Key West beaches is unique. It is not the same as Clearwater, Siesta Key or even Ormond Beach. It is thick, but has lots of rocks and shells in it. We always wear water shoes when swimming at Florida Keys beaches. Some people will be disappointed by the swimming conditions at Smathers Beach and other Florida Keys beaches. Why? There will likely be seagrass along the shore and in the water, making it murky. The Keys have a lot of mangroves too. Florida Keys beach water is not dirty, just different. Smathers Beach is very clean with good facilities. Sand is brought in to many of these beaches, just like Miami Beach. As long as you are prepared for this, you will enjoy your visit. Know before you go!
Key West Water
A Florida Keys beach is not like Destin Beach. If you're looking for white sand and crystal clear water, don't plan a Florida vacation in the Keys. However, Smathers Beach is one of the better sandy beaches in Key West. You will find pockets where it is shallow to wade in and reach the sandbar. It is a natural paradise that needs to be seen to be appreciated.
One of the most incredible experiences while driving down to Key West is seeing the color of the water. It just keeps getting better the more south you drive. The aquamarine color takes your breath away. We stopped at a number of roadside areas just to take in the sun and sea. If there has been a storm, the water may be churned up with sandy particles, but in December it was all clear. Was the water warm? Yes, it was still warm in December and the weather was perfect too.
Key West Beach Parking and Amenities
We don't want to discourage you from visiting Key West: it is a one-of-a-kind experience! Smathers beach is located on the south side of the island, along the Atlantic Ocean and State Road A1A, and begins at mile marker zero. Parking is $5 per hour from the following hours:
Monday through Saturday
8:00 AM to 12:00 AM (Midnight)
12:00 PM (Noon) to 12:00 AM (Midnight)
This beach has clean restrooms with showers. There is a vendor that rents chairs and umbrellas but it is pricey. It’s $50+ tip for 2 chairs and an umbrella for the day. There is a food truck on the street by the beach along with other vendors. Jet skis and kayaks can be rented too.
Key West Beach Activities
It's hard to isolate our focus to just Smathers Beach when Key West offers so much to do! It is a great place for fishing enthusiasts. The Gulf Stream, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean converge in the area to provide a diverse range of fishing opportunities. The warm waters provide an abundance of baitfish that attracts larger fish species like tarpon, wahoo and tuna. What don't you want to miss in Key West? We know there are a lot of Florida travel bloggers writing about Key West, so we will just mention a few of our favorite activities. The Dry Tortugas National Park is amazing but you must book online in advance. It is in high demand even at $200 each adult.
Look Out! This Could Happen...
We stayed in the middle of the island at the Silver Palms Hotel & Suites. This boutique hotel in the heart of Old Town Key West had a saltwater pool and tropical décor. It is Certified as Florida Green Lodging, but that's not why we chose it. The price was right, it had free parking and we were within walking distance of many places we wanted to visit. Although we consider Smathers Beach relaxing, Key West as a whole is VERY busy and noisy. This destination has a reputation as a lively, party town. It has more bars per capita than any other place in the country! We wanted to visit the famous Sloppy Joe's, but it was jam-packed! They have a live "crowd cam" so check online before going. The other warning we have is about driving in Key West. The streets are narrow and busy. We can't believe we got around in our pickup truck! It is safer and easier to take a trolley or rent a motor scooter. If you are on a budget consider a bicycle: our hotel had rentals right on-site.
If you want to be near the water, then choose the Southernmost Beach Resort. In 2022 it completed a $15 million renovation to its exterior, lobby, breezeways and guest rooms. With three pools, a restaurant and spa it is newly refreshed and ready for Keys visitors. They even offer a Florida wedding package.
What We Really Think About Key West
Duval St. is the main strip of bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment in Key West. But don't be afraid to explore other areas a few blocks away from Duval St. (during the daytime). Just the architecture of Key West homes is worth an afternoon of exploration. We are budget savvy travelers so we ate at Margaritaville Key West Restaurant. We visited Hemingway House (for Picasso paintings and 6-toed cats) and the shipwreck museum. A lifetime of memories awaits you in Old Town Key West. Just before you enter Key West, at mile marker 5, you can camp with a waterfront view. Find out more about Boyd's Key West Campground.
Key West Hotels
Margaritaville Beach House Key West
Southernmost House Hotel
Kimpton Key West
Silver Palms Inn Hotel & Suites
Key West Restaurants
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.